Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love, Life & All That Jazz by Ahmed Faiyaz - A Review

"How I wish you could see the potential, the potential of you and me. It's like a book elegantly bound, but in a language you can't read just yet." Lyrics from 'I will possess your heart', Death Cab for Cutie.

For the above quote, and many more, I am thankful to Ahmed Faiyaz, the writer of the book I am attempting to review presently. A book I was contemplating leaving unread after completing some fifteen pages made it's way quite unassumingly to my heart. So much, that my heart felt heavy when it ended. I wished it lasted longer, just to grant me some more of those amazingly real and relatable moments. But even as it ended, it made me believe in the concept of a silver lining, for a moment motivating me to find my own.

Love, Life & All That Jazz (LL&ATJ) is a contemporary tale of love, of dreams, of coming of age. It rotates around six central characters, aided finely by a few more who help shape and pace the story as it moves ahead.
  • Though some readers might differ, but for me, the main story in the narrative of LL&ATZ was that of Sameer and Tania- the couple with whom the story begins and ends. They are in love, but want different things from life- a fact that complicates their co-existence. While Sameer to make it big in life by pursuing and MBA and career in the UK, Tania is a focused interior designer with her own ambitions and plans to put to reality. Their story is about their long distance relationship, the yearning and the frustrations, and about growing up.
  •  Vicky and Naina, a rich and affluent charmer and his sultry, ambitious model girlfriend are the second couple in this book. They make for that killer couple on the page 3 circuit, a culture towards which Naina gravitates because of the demands of her career and Vicky avoids because of the fatigue emanating from constant attention of nosy shutterbugs. The possessiveness and ambitions, the love and temper- all accessorize their exclusive story woven into that of their other four friends.
  •  Tanveer and Tanaz, the third couple, are adorable and my favorite. Tanveer is the typical small town lad lost in a big city, with pressures and demands of his financially unstable family always looming large on his mindscape. He is bright, diligent, but insecure- and what comes as the proverbial ray of hope in his life is a vivacious Tanaz, the daughter of his Parsi landlady. But religious differences and responsibilities on Tanveer as the sole bread winner of his family bring in more than just complications in the beautiful life they both look forward to sharing.
This is broadly the set up of the story. Author Ahmed Faiyaz has done a wonderful job of finely interweaving each individual story into the over all narrative, with a pace that does not allow you to lose focus or interest. I'll be honest. I did not so much like the book after reading the initial twenty pages. It seemed one of those many books written by amateur, wannabe writers, which litter the book stalls with their jazzy covers and cheesy titles. (Oh! And this is not disdain. I am guilty of having read and thoroughly enjoyed many such books. But I kind of had had enough) So while I was contemplating leaving it and moving onto a historical treatise which lay unread beside my pillow, something in the narrative struck a nerve and I carried on. I am so glad I did.

The story begins with about five characters, and to confess, it is initially a little difficult to shift focus between all of them as they develop their distinct identities in the narrative simultaneously. However, as the story progresses, the author does a brilliant job of giving definition,background and a distinct flavor to each character, so much so that recalling any single name to mind after you're done with the book will make you picture clearly his/her character in  your head. What also helps is that all the characters and situations in the book are extremely relatable. With simplicity in his language, the author has managed to churn out some priceless dialogues and heart warming scenes. This is not one of the grandest of books you will read, but with literary opulence staring down and intimidating modest readers like me from all angles, the humble, breezy and comforting narrative of this book is what you might fall in love with.

Even though  I have labelled it a review, I don't think it is one. I will not rate this book. I cannot critique it. The hopeless romantic that I tag myself as forced me to find way too many familiarities (actual and imagined) with this book, and the consequent predilection just asks me to recommend this book to readers like myself. Heartaches, dreams, pressing family situations, uncertain careers- we are actually coming of age. Want to see a mirror, the kind which promises a silver lining at the end? Do grab this book.

Ahmed Faiyaz has decorated his book with exquisite quotations, one at the beginning of each chapter to give you an abstract peek into what lies ahead in the story. I end this post borrowing one from Chapter 10 of Love, Life & All That Jazz...
"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." -  Thoman Merton

Leonid Afremov again. Can I ever thank him enough for adding all these colors to my life?


  1. it definately seems to be a good piece of fiction,i believe the contemporary indian authors are finally coming of age, especially after reading a string of authors with a tongue-in-cheek way of writing and exploiting our generations language HINGLISH...

  2. one more thing,i loved dis painting u hv posted in de end,though i dnt have much knowledge in dis domain,bt still dis pic struck a chord with me, there is something in it which im nt able to express or even think off myself..

  3. Hey!
    Finally you're back here. With full ceremony, I welcome back one of my most regular readers. And I'm happy! This book is a light read, and I needed one after reading a string of really heavy books. Also, this painting, it is by one of my favorite artists. Not that I know a lot of artists, but this one, I love. You'll find his paintings on most posts, they are just the most beautiful things to accessorize my blog !

  4. thanx dee, its all my pleasure to read such wonderful thoughts of yours.
    yeah i have seen those paintings in almost all your blogs and i even myself googled this artist and believe you me, i was in awe of his work,simply mesmerizing.

  5. See! There it is! He is fantastic. And you keep reading, and also offer some critical insights, if you ever feel my work is not as good as it should be!

  6. ohh man,dee u made my day,but trust me,no adulation but i can never have the audacity to find any flaw in your work,its always so complete,you never leave a stone unturned,you always raise the bar so high,I just want to keep learning from you..:)

  7. Hi Saumaya, much appreciate your effort to understand and review the book by understanding its souls. To me, its the story closest to my heart, and I always hope I was a better writer back when I began writing this one. But I'm glad that you and others have connected to it, and draw optimism from it. This is what keeps me going.

  8. @Ahmed
    I cannot believe you took out time to comment. It is indeed a really sweet gesture on your part. Thank you so much Ahmed. And your other two books are immediately on my reading list. Will let you know how I found them soon.

    As for Love, Life & All That Jazz, there are lines from this book which'll always stay with me. Thank you for that too :)

  9. @Apoorv
    For all the encouragement, thanks again!

  10. You're welcome :)