I didn’t expect much when Tanya Tania released. Which is why I didn’t even try to get a review copy. Even after it came I thought it would be one of those romance novels that they mark as women’s fiction that has rippling muscles and maybe a frenemy or two. Oh how wrong I was. The second I heard it was about two friends who write to each other (alas a story idea of mine gone down the drain) and then something happens…..DUN DUN DUN! Thankfully I won a giveaway for this book and immediately jumped in.
The story starts off with two friends who are not yet friends writing to each other. Their mothers were best friends and have named their children Tanya and Tania respectively, with a slight difference in spelling. One of them is now in Pakistan and the other is in India, both of them are living similar but different lives. The letters start off awkward and rude but slowly develop into a sort of immature friendship as they confess their crushes, feelings and familial problems to each other and find solace in the fact that someone else knows, even if they may not be able to do something about it. But then problems start happening in each country, in Pakistan boys start getting threats and non Muslims are told to get out and in India the Bombay riots take place. And this changes things forever.
WHAT I LIKED
I adored the writing style the author went for. As a kid, even now, letter writing was my favourite form of communication and this made it all the more endearing to me. The narrators were great as well (I listened to this on audiobook), perfectly pronouncing things in an Bombay Indian/ Pakisthani accent and showing off the characters’ personalities well. You get a glimpse of what’s happening and how terrible it is for each person but without too much information. it’s like listening to a friend talk about her troubles with you but only on the surface. You have limited information to work with and that itself was brilliant because it let your imagination run wild.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The author shows off her political leanings rather well. Making people who support the party she supports seem intelligent and suave and others seem weak minded losers. This totally put me off because I wanted to read a book, not listen to a political agenda. I don’t think, for this reason alone, I will buy any of the authors book. I wanted my mum to read it because the book itself is great and she prefers physical copies of books, I’ll not be purchasing it because of this. Another thing was the last chapter, the ending, was narrated rather badly, I don’t think it was the author’s fault but I do with it had been from a different point of view rather than what it was. Suddenly changing the POV from letters to something else felt a little harsh.
I rather this four stars and I’d definitely recommend the audiobook. The narration, for the most part, is impeccable and the author does a great job separating their personalities and yet finding similarities for them to “bond” over. An excellent debut and I’m sure we can expect great books from this author.
Last night there was a snowstorm that made my window disappear. I woke up gasping at the heater. This is my first letter in three years. First letter since I left Pakistan. First letter since Nusrat.
Tanya Tania is a story about two young women coming of age in two countries that are coming of age. Tanya Talati in Karachi and Tania Ghosh in Bombay, daughters of college best friends, write to each other of what cannot be said to anyone else: a mother who has gone from quiet to silent, sex that has become a weapon, a servant with unforgettably soft hands and a country beginning to play with religion. When Tanya’s brother receives a kidnapping threat, she sets in motion what no one could have predicted, least of all Tania, who finds herself alone in a forbidden bazaar in Bombay, listening to the sounds of a riot torn city coming closer and closer and closer . . .