Sunday, July 10, 2011

Half Life-Roopa Farooki

Half Life
Roopa Farooki
St. Martin’s Jul 19 2011, $15.99
ISBN: 9780312577919

In London, Bengali expatriate Dr. Aruna Ahmed Jones married British Dr. Patrick Jones on the rebound from her failed romance with long time friend Ejaz “Jazz” Ahsan. In fact she fled Singapore's Little India to escape her past that included her father’s death, drug addiction, miscarriages and a psychological determination that she is bi-polar. Now less than a year with kind handsome Patrick, she reads Jazz’s father Bengali writer Hari Hassam’s note to a friend during the 1971 East and West Pakistan war: “It’s time to stop fighting, and go home.” Aruna agrees that it is time for her to stop fighting her ghosts and go home to confront them.

While she returns to Singapore, her inspiration lies dying in Kuala Lumpur General Hospital in Malaysia. Aruna knows she must confront Jazz and their past if she is to move forward with him or with Patrick who she expects will not welcome her back.

This terrific character study contains two discerning subplots as readers follow Aruna’s efforts to cleanse her mind from her self-imposed demons that force her into a Half Life and Haris’ death count vigil. Both are well written and nicely converge as the audience obtains insight into the Bengali culture living in Southeast Asia and London through this pair and others. Roopa Farooki provides a strong drama as Aruna learns that though Thomas Wolff is right that “you can’t go home“, Hari is also correct as sometimes you have no choice but to go home.

Harriet Klausner

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