Book Review: Fireflies by Shiva Naipaul

After reading 4-5 books, I always dive back into a classic. The slow pace of the story, the deeper meaning of words, the grey areas where characters seek their energy, a classic has the power to take away all the heaviness. This month, I picked up Fireflies by Shiva Naipaul as my classic, and I must say it was a complete roller coaster ride of emotions. From the characters to the situations they were pushed into, I was completely engrossed into it.

The story of Fireflies revolves around Trinidad’s most respected Hindu Family, the Khojas, who are superbly orthodox and reside over acres of useless land that reaps the lowest quality of sugar cane and have hoards of jewelry fiercely guarded by Mrs. Khoja. The only silver lining they have is Baby, the protagonist of the story who is married off to a bus driver and who doesn’t want to settle down like a regular Khoja.

The characters of Fireflies are pretty much a hateful lot but brilliantly portrayed by Naipaul. The mediocre Govind with delusional grandeur, his arrogant wife who has spent her life flattering her husband, the six malicious sisters, five of whom are widows and one of them who runs wild.

However, the only protagonist and the appealing character is Baby, a lesser member of the crazy Khoja clan and the one who doesn’t expect much, as she has resigned to her fate and prepared for her duty to service of other always, including a drunk husband who beats her all the time. The one who leads her life with dignity, with two kids, husband’s death and her struggle for independence to loss of her hopes and dreams. She is smart, loving, generous nd she is the one who single-handedly carries the story till the end.

Speaking of technicalities, the language of Fireflies is easy to understand and decipher. The characters are a bit tricky to understand first, but then Naipaul has given each character time to fold in front of you. The book is long, which may not be good for some, but then within the duration is the real beauty. Fireflies is not just a book to read and keep aside, it’s an experience that will be with you always. So make sure to grab your copy soon.

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