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Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Review : ‘The Collected Works of AJ Fikry' by Gabrielle Zevin



Don't you love the book cover? When I first began to read, ‘The Collected Works of AJ Fikry’, I was told that that it might be similar to ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak but Gabrielle Zevin’s work was not. And I must say I am thankful for it. Why? Read on…


The place where everything happens is Alice Island, and here is a quaint bookstore, called Island Books. That is where our main protagonist lives. His pregnant wife has passed away recently and left the store to him. Drunk and unhappy was AJ Fikry’s life. His disgruntlement comes through in the first few pages, when he is rude and obnoxious to Amelia Loman, a rep from Knightley Publishers, whom he practically throws out of his store refusing to read a book by an old man whose wife has just died and who writes a book about it.

AJ returns home, which is above his store and attempts to eat a little vindaloo, while getting drunk. He wakes up to find an extremely rare Tamerlane by EA Poe, missing from his personal collection. The chief of police is sympathetic, because the copy would sell at a great financial value in a few years. AJ returns to the police station again, this time with a two year old, whom he found at his doorstep. The two year old, Maya is a girl who quickly makes herself inseparable from AJ, whom he eventually adopts.  

The story reads wonderfully not just because it was about books, but because it said so much about publishers, writers, agents and even the bibliophiles. If you are a true reader, then you will love how each of the chapters began. The story runs into when and how AJ gets married and how Maya is ahead at her creative writing class, and how the missing Tamerlane is discovered and so much more.

It is about book sellers and book readers, second chances, and writing. Zevin does a brilliant mesh of the whole thing. She manages to find place for policemen, a sad sister-in-law, an unknown author and even odd poets, here and there. The supporting cast is well drawn out part, which is just right.

It is a sentimental and philosophical story but Zevin never overdoes any of these. Literary tools are used everywhere and it is eventually what Fikry says and what the book does, ‘the more I believe that this is what the point of it all is. To connect, my dear little nerd. Only connect.’



Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN: 9780349139395
Price: Rs 350/-

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