Kicks the isolation door wide open.
The debut novel of acclaimed journalist Anish Majumdar examines the inner world of the mentally ill and those within their gravitational pull. A mother's delusions of Bollywood stardom become a son's raw materials for finding happiness beyond her shadow. Enlisting the aid of an Aunt with means and questionable motives, Neil finds love and forms crucial friendships. But when the life he's kept secret begins to crumble, a choice must be made: family or freedom? Intimate in approach and devastating in impact, The Isolation Door marks the arrival of a unique talent in American letters.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated towards schizophrenia research and treatment.
My two centsThe Literary Blog Hop Giveaway because I thought it was a beautiful piece to share with you all! There is a giveaway for 3 paperback copies (US/Can), courtesy of the publisher through TLC Book Tours.
Make-up, a beautiful sari, and non-stop prattling about her adoring fans. Neil is helping his mother get ready for her big acting gig. But in a blink of an eye, this innocuous scene turns ugly when I realised that Neil was humouring his delusional mother to get her ready for readmission to the hospital. It's tough love .. unfortunately with roles reversed.
The opening scene sets the tone for a young man's personal journey from isolation, fear, and frustration to compassion, understanding and reconciliation.
This book did not disappoint and exceeded all my expectations in a wonderful way. It has an atmospheric quality to it but it is a brutal read. It is an intimate look into a young man's life that is impacted by his mother's schizophrenia. It is emotional, a little shocking in spots, painfully tragic in many instances, and searingly honest.
There is so much to learn from this fictionalized experience: Neil's uncertainties and frustrations, his mother's confused struggle to make sense of things, a worried father and husband who does everything for the woman he loves, and the community from which they turn to for support.
There were a few touches that I found really compelling:
2. The parallels between Neil's relationship with his mother and girlfriend Emily. While his initial attraction to Emily - who was vulnerable and "damaged"- probably sprung naturally from having to deal with his mother's problems, the way he came to care for Emily probably wouldn't have been possible if not for his life experience.
3. The ending. I loved it.
Backing up a bit, when I saw this book up for review, I jumped on it. Coming from an Asian country where there is a continuing stigma on mental illness, I was curious to read another cultural take on this issue. The author is Bengali-Canadian-American and his strong ties to his own culture and the Bengali community played into the storyline. Always shrouded in secrecy, I felt an empathy to Neil's odd powerplay of relationship with his moneyed aunt (who didn't know how to handle her sister's mental illness) and moreso with his father who drew heavily from his friends and community for moral support and legal advice.
This is a compelling read that sheds light on the personal struggles of families dealing with mental illness of a family member. This does a beautiful job of humanizing the impacts of mental illness, not only spreading awareness but, more importantly, encouraging us to be empathetic and compassionate.
Uh-oh: This is written by a male. If you've read a lot of Murakami or Garcia Marquez, you'll know they love to punctuate their stories with some sexual scenes, which while not absolutely necessary to the storyline are there because, well, that's part of life. This is similar.
Verdict: An affecting, empathetic portrayal of a young life forced to cope with the devastation of mental illness in the family. Incisive, brutal, raw and honest. Kicks the door wide open on the travails of families dealing with mental illness so that people not only understand this issue but even lend a helping hand. A dark yet empowering read! I highly recommend it and look forward to more of Majumdar's work.
I knew what it was to flounder in the service of a loved one. To know you were doing the right thing even as every instinct for self-preservation claimed otherwise. I've witnessed my father do it for most of his life. Far from discouraging or depressing me, I felt bolstered by the realization. - p. 74
As a child growing up in Montreal, Canada, Anish Majumdar’s first creative writing lessons came courtesy of his mother, a former English teacher. Witnessing her struggle with schizophrenia had a profound impact and inspired The Isolation Door, his first novel.
About Anish Majumdar
His non-fiction work, appearing in many publications, has garnered Independent Press Association Awards for Feature Writing and Investigative Journalism. His short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives with his wife, son, and a growing menagerie of pets in Rochester, NY.
Connect with Anish Majumdar: Website | Twitter | Google + | Facebook
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I received copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Ravana Press (February 4, 2014)
This post is part of the The Literary Blog Hop Giveaway.
3 paperback copies (US/Can), courtesy of the publisher through TLC Book Tours
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