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Book Review: Saba and her cat named Grey by Durjoy Choudhury

Saba and her cat named Grey by Durjoy Choudhury is a beautifully written novella that makes a pleasant read even if you pick up this book out of your genre or accidently. The novella finely studies a character named Saba. She is young and moved to Calcutta recently. The novel covers her stay and experience with the city. She moved from Delhi, joins a lifestyle magazine, and soon finds herself handling its food section. On one side if the story is about a woman’s tussle in the society, on the other hand it is laced with recipes.

At her place of residence, Saba being a lonely woman in the city, finds comfort in the company of a cat named Grey. The cat lives with her. The author explores the essence of womanhood, the place of a liberal female in the world by aligning Saba’s story with Grey. Both are brave, ferocious, love freedom, and can do anything for their privacy. Saba is the lead character. She is not a perfect woman with controlled emotions. Like many, she too had inclinations for men, longed for a beautiful life, a perfect family, and much more. But as you chug ahead with the story, Saba’s past and memories will take you on a rollercoaster ride. She hardly connects with her younger sister. She hates her mother. She separated from her husband Imran, in Delhi. Life has never been a smooth ride for a woman in our country – it is evident from the novella.

Wrapped by social taboos, Saba feels suffocated for freedom and good life. The story has shades of tragedies and the author has carefully covered them through sweeps. It is a contemporary read but also makes notes of events that once disturbed the whole nation, and Saba was no exception to that. She lost her roots due to 1992 riots, and father in Gujarat of 2002. Not at length…but yes the novella discusses the food politics and immigration issues that the nation had been witnessing for last some years. The author did not put an exact focus on social-political fiascos, he covered them subtly.

It is a slow burn but a brilliant novel. The author paid great attention to gastronomic details. Non-veg food connoisseurs will love this book for its cuisines. The story solely belongs to Saba. However, a few auxiliary characters like Amartya, Roshini, and Imran did great job within their space. The story may not converge for a consolidated point but it fosters a lovely reading experience. Saba meant free fresh morning breeze. The character defined its underlying value. Overall a powerful novella about romance, family allegiance, gastronomy, lonely life in a metro and much more. This is Durjoy Choudhury’s second novel. He sounds like a veteran of the field. The way he describes tense ambience and tapestry of emotions, probably no new other writer can do that. An unassuming effort yet a pleasant read! Truly a great novella with a great story of a young woman. A highly recommended novella!

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