My reading took a backseat this year because of the kid being home and all the stress and anxiety. I am finally feeling much better and I am able to read some books. I finished a book few days back which ended up as my favorite read of this year so I had to write a review for it. It had been so long since I read a 5 star book.
This is a murder mystery/literary fiction by Polish author Olga Tokarczuk who has won Nobel Prize in literature. I heard someone mention this book as a book where hunters keep getting murdered and an old woman, who is an astrologer and main protagonist thinks it’s animals seeking revenge on hunters but nobody believes her. This premise was enough for me to pick up the book.
It is a thriller but it is easier to guess what is happening after a point. If you go into this book expecting it to be a great mystery novel, you will be disappointed. However, the book has a great story, it is written very well and you should treat it like a literary fiction which is what it is. The translator has done a great job too.
The author talks about so many things in this book that I had never thought about before. The book was very thought provoking in many ways. The main protagonist talks about astrology a lot and even though I consider astrology a pseudoscience, I was convinced by the author to at least look up and read about how astrology works.
Look at the number of sticky tabs I have stuck to this book (that’s the most I have stuck in any book I guess) –
The book has a great discussion about hunting and how people think it is okay to hunt as long as they have a legal license. The author questions how it is different from poaching as in both the cases you are killing the animal. Does it really matter that you have law on your side? The animals who cannot communicate or talk are still being butchered for fun and money.
“Killing has become exempt from punishment. And as it goes unpunished, nobody notices it anymore. And as nobody notices it, it doesn’t exist. … That’s just how the world would look if concentration camps became the norm. Nobody would see anything wrong with them.”
“From nature’s point of view no creatures are useful or not useful”. Even a tiny insect is important as it can be a food for some small animal which in turn could be a food for a bigger animal.
“But why should we have to be useful and for what reason? Who divided the world into useless and useful, and by what right?
Everyone knows the profit to be reaped from the useful, but nobody knows the benefit to be gained from the useless.”
While reading this book, I was thinking about the incident where a Gorilla had to killed because a mother could not keep her child safe. She did not notice that her child was entering Gorilla’s cage and as a result, the Gorilla had to lose its life. Because of the fault of humans, animals end up losing their lives. The author questions this too at one point. Why is human life considered more important than the lives of other animals on this planet? Why are animals so easily disposable?
“People think they can do what they want to Animals, as if they’re just things. “
What gives you the right to hurt innocent animals who mean no harm to you? I remember during a visit to one of the national parks, someone told me that animals while they are inside the national park are protected. But if an animal goes outside the park territory by mistake, it can be shot by anybody. I was disturbed during the whole trip because I could not understand why such an innocent animal would be killed? Is there shortage of food? I don’t think so. Hunting is a sport and people take license for hunting poor animals. They are having fun killing someone. I still cannot understand how someone can feel happy shooting and killing animals. How is killing a human different from killing animals? Both are living beings that can walk. How can you show love to your dog while killing a deer? How can you treat your dog or cat as a family member, while eating beef or pork? How is one animal different from another? I can never understand that.
There were other quotes and discussions about life in general too that I loved –
“Sometimes, when a Person feels Anger, everything seems simple and obvious. Anger puts things in order and shows you the world in a nutshell; Anger restores the gift of Clarity of Vision, which it’s hard to attain in any other state.”
-> That is so true. Some of the best decisions I have ever made have been when I was angry. Otherwise, I keep contemplating a lot on what I should do and never really take any action until it is too late.
“We’re living in a world we fabricate for ourselves. We decide what’s good and what isn’t, we draw maps of meaning for ourselves… And then we spend our whole lives struggling with what we have invented for ourselves. The problem is that each of us has our own version of it, so people find it hard to understand each other.”
-> This was my favorite quote from this book.
The author is an intelligent woman who writes well too. I am definitely going to read everything she has written and has been translated to English. I have now found myself a favorite author too. 5/5 stars without any doubt. Do read this book if you can.