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Half Life Paperback – July 19, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this compelling tale, novelist Farooki (Bitter Sweets) follows Bengali doctor Aruna Ahmed Jones, who has impulsively married a British physician, hoping to forget a tragic romance with her old friend Ejaz Jazz Ahsan, who she left behind in Singapore's Little India. A recovering drug addict, Aruna has suffered from bipolar disorder and had a string of miscarriages during her time with Jazz, leaving her in a delicate state of mind; inspired by a letter from Jazz's adopted dad, who, in a parallel plot, is dying in a hospital in Malaysia, Aruna decides to leave her husband and return to Singapore to face Jazz and the terrible news that tore them apart. Farooki's hypnotic narrative is driven by a delicate, probing intensity, full of grace and poignancy. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A lovely, graceful, and utterly compelling love story.” ―Entertainment Weekly

“Compelling... Farooki's hypnotic narrative is driven by a delicate, probing intensity, full of grace and poignancy.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Lovers of literary fiction will not want to miss this vibrant, moving novel from the gifted Farooki.” ―Booklist

“Utterly compelling...Moments of utter emotional bleakness are rendered bearable by the fragile beauty of the images Farooki uses to describe them. This is proper storytelling - we are provided with a character we find ourselves caring about, and want to discover what becomes of her. One thing will always stand out when it matters: the author's voice. And Farooki has one to be proud of.” ―The Independent (UK)

“A heartfelt tale that skips seamlessly from continent to continent and reveals how the ghosts of our pasts have to be laid to rest before we can come back home.” ―Farahad Zama, author of The Marriage Bureau for Rich People series

“Aspirations and family ties play out across three generations of the Khalil family in Farooki's fine new novel.... [A] flawed yet likable cast... question what, exactly, leads to a more fulfilled life. This character- and culture-rich novel will appeal to Jhumpa Lahiri and Zadie Smith fans.” ―Publishers Weekly on Corner Shop

“Farooki's characters are convincingly complex... While her first novel, Bitter Sweets, was called "enjoyably breezy" (New York Times), this work has a depth to it that requires more substantial adjectives. Highly recommended.” ―Library Journal on Corner Shop

“A complex exploration of the ever-changing nature of wants and desires and the consequences of achieving one's dreams, Farooki's tale eschews easy answers for the complex, appealing characters that people its pages.” ―Booklist on Corner Shop

“[An] enjoyably breezy book... Despite its emphasis on deception, dislocation and the loss of love, [Bitter Sweets] retains a cheery consistency: It has managed to be sunnily devious from the start. And it delivers a refreshing message. Only by means of all their elaborate deceptions do these characters figure out who they really are.” ―Janet Maslin, The New York Times with praise for Roopa Farooki

“Fast-paced and populated with characters as colorful as a closetful of saris, Farooki's debut follows three generations of an Indian family....While there are enough surprise plot twists to keep the tale entertaining, it's the characters' emotional musings that make it memorable.” ―People (3 stars) on Bitter Sweets

“Roopa Farooki's delicious debut novel...is a candy apple of a book, an alluring confection that is substantial and healthful at its heart....This book...is simply, shrewdly sweet.” ―More magazine on Bitter Sweets

“This sparkling, fresh debut follows three generations of a family caught up in the web of their own deceit.... Farooki's vibrant characters leap off the page and straight into the imagination in this clever and intricate novel.” ―Booklist (starred review) on Bitter Sweets

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312577915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312577919
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,194,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Crystal Starr Light VINE VOICE on June 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"...running away really is the easy part; it is coming home that is hard"
Aruna Ahmed Jones just picks up and leaves her London apartment, her job, her material possessions, and her husband. Because it is time to face what she ran away from: the man she loved, Jazz Ahsan, and the secret of her past.

I Liked:
I read mostly science fiction, fantasy and mystery. But I couldn't help but be intrigued by the premise of this book (especially after watching the fantastic Slumdog Millionaire). And this isn't one of those books that promises the world and leaves us with pebbles and salt. Roopa Farooki delivers.
The cast is small, but each character plays a unique, varied role. We focus on three primary characters: Aruna, Jazz, and a former poet, Hari Hassan. All three are unique, rich, and well-developed. Aruna is our primary protagonist, the woman who leaves her life in London (and her husband, Patrick) to return to Singapore and the life she ran away from. It is easy to sympathize with her plight, to feel her emotions (which she relays with stunning clarity and unashamed candor), and to journey with her on this emotional roller coaster ride. Jazz is our secondary protagonist, the former lover of Aruna. I enjoyed learning how he lived his life in Aruna's absence, how caring he was to her, how he wastes his time in a loveless relationship to a shallow woman. Lastly is Hari Hassan. I was dumbstruck at how different he was, yet he was interesting and complicated as well. It was a unique move of Farooki to make him hospitalized (at least, I've not read many books with this development), so I was impressed and torn at his helplessness, at his lack of privacy, and at his slowly deteriorating condition.
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Format: Hardcover
This is not a literary jewel, but is, a very enjoyable read. It is fresh, it is interesting, it is a well told story. The author totally has her own style, and was successful in making the thought provoking points she sought to make. A different sort of tale, a different look, different characters, and a different conclusion than you will think. I will totally seek out other books by this author. Recommended to you with zeal, and with confidence that you will react as I did.
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Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a pre-sale book, so my issues with formatting may have been changed before the actual print, but I doubt it. This book took me forever to read! With that said, let's first talk about formatting of the book. This book is 260 pages. However, the margins were ridiculously large on all sides and the font was larger than necessary. I almost felt like I was reading an over-sized print book at times. That was an initial turn-off.

The chapters are broken up by the names of the three main characters with a subtitle of the location. I didn't feel that the location was necessary and I honestly didn't read them because I'm not familiar with those parts of the world. I did like that the chapters were the characters' names though, because the perspective changed with each chapter and the reader was not left guessing whose perspective was being read.

Within each chapter there were 2-3 breaks. It took me the better part of the book to realize that the pattern seemed to go as such; first section: present time, second section: past, third section: present. This was very confusing.

Also, the information on the back of the book says, "With shades of Slumdog Millionaire..." which is a movie I enjoyed. However, I saw no shades of that movie/plot within this book; other than the characters were from a similar part of the world.

The cover of the book also does not give any idea to the story of the book. If anything, the cover is deceiving as to what the book might be about.

With all that said, the story was rather, meh. I did not feel all that connected to the characters and did not find the plot in general to be that intriguing. I made it through, did not like the ending, and was glad to be finished. The only reason I gave it two stars was that there were sections of the book where I found the writing to be very well written. I'm no writer, but felt that I saw glimpses into the writer's potential.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I decided to give this a 3 because it did have a moderately compelling storyline. I was not overly intrigued until I was over halfway thought it. I liked the fact that the author used a lot of flashback to keep the suspense going. What I did not like was all the present tense verbs that were indiscriminately used at odd times. I doubt I would read much else by this author. I did not like how abruptly it ended. I do not expect that all loose ends are to be tied up at the end, but I believe there does need to be closure. And I didn't really sense this with this book.
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Format: Paperback
In London, Bengali expatriate Dr. Aruna Ahmed Jones married British Dr. Patrick Jones on the rebound from her failed romance with long time friend Ejaz "Jazz" Ahsan. In fact she fled Singapore's Little India to escape her past that included her father's death, drug addiction, miscarriages and a psychological determination that she is bi-polar. Now less than a year with kind handsome Patrick, she reads Jazz's father Bengali writer Hari Hassam's note to a friend during the 1971 East and West Pakistan war: "It's time to stop fighting, and go home." Aruna agrees that it is time for her to stop fighting her ghosts and go home to confront them.

While she returns to Singapore, her inspiration lies dying in Kuala Lumpur General Hospital in Malaysia. Aruna knows she must confront Jazz and their past if she is to move forward with him or with Patrick who she expects will not welcome her back.

This terrific character study contains two discerning subplots as readers follow Aruna's efforts to cleanse her mind from her self-imposed demons that force her into a Half Life and Haris' death count vigil. Both are well written and nicely converge as the audience obtains insight into the Bengali culture living in Southeast Asia and London through this pair and others. Roopa Farooki provides a strong drama as Aruna learns that though Thomas Wolff is right that "you can't go home", Hari is also correct as sometimes you have no choice but to go home.

Harriet Klausner
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