The Rape Trial by Bidisha Ghosal: When do we say,' Enough is enough?'

What happens when women take justice in their own hands, going after their abusers, harassers, rapists–doing to them what men have been doing to women since centuries? What happens when the onus of protecting women lies no longer in the hands of the law? Women have been the victim of gruesome rape, of constantly being stalked by serial molesters, of having their agency defined by the standards men believe to be right. It’s no surprise then that years of systematic abuse and conditioning women continue to tolerate becomes too much to take in. The likes of powerful men like Harvey Weinstein, MJ Akbar, many journalists and celebrities who have been profiting off of the exploitation of women working with or under them has been brought to light. The question still remains: what measures have been taken since the Nirbhaya case and thousand other rape cases to make sure the accused got what they deserved? The answer lies in the fact that women, once again, have faced the brunt of being raped. They risked their lives outing their abusers at the cost of being ostracised.

When Rahul Satyabhagi belonging to one of the most affluent families in Badrid Bay was accused of raping Avni Rambha Ahuja, the members of the elite and friends of the Satyabhagis and Rambhas were divided. Rahul was vindicated at the trial and Avni moved to another country. This didn’t stop him from suing her and from the media from making him the flag-bearer of Men’s right activism. But a recent sting operation done on Rahul exposed him as guilty by his own admission. He not only bragged about the rape but joked about doing it again.

Rhea Arora Raj had been childhood friends with Rahul Satyabhagi and Avni Rambha. Their families were close-knit but it only lasted until Rhea’s parents filed for divorce. Rhea joined her dad’s business when she was still in school. Soon enough, she climbed the corporate ladder with her name on every achievement board. By the time she reached college, she was already handling majority of her dad’s work and launching projects of her own. That’s where she met her lifelong friends and confidantes; Hitaishi and Amruta.

The sting operation broke something inside the three friends; Rhea, Amruta & Hitaishi. They were appalled at Rahul’s audacity, of his lecherous mindset. They no longer wanted to be mute spectators to such a travesty. Here’s when they decide to do something to stop these rampant attacks on women. They took matters in their own hands & set things straight. Not really knowing where this would lead them, the trio set off a precedent in the city and all over the country. Suddenly several rapists were found mutilated and tortured. News broke out about a group of vigilantes who were out to attack men. It’s ironical how the society was now worried about rapists more than women being raped. Bidisha has handled the narrative with sensitivity making sure she drives her point across.

Things get even more interesting when the police, now desperate to catch someone, drag a young girl into the police station levering chargers of first degree murder on her. Urvi Nanda’s case becomes a sensation. Here I would like to mention how fantastically Bidisha wrote the court-room scene. From the journalists to the lawyers to the police, her characters seemed real and very believable. I raced through the pages because of how intense and captivating her arguments were.

The Rape Trial shows us what happens when women do to men what is being done to them since centuries. I don’t know what the moral stand or real solution to this problem is. The story is violent, gory and harsh but depicts the double standards our society seems to be reeling in. There were a lot of scenes that were uncomfortable, a lot of areas that are neither white or black but completely grey. But these are the times we live in. The author evoked feelings of anger, hurt, helplessness that countless women have felt and continue to feel. Their agencies being controlled or completely taken away at the whims of men. The power structure is so skewed, and if we’re taking a few steps forward, we’ll also going back a thousand times.

The book reads like a thriller with several twists and turns coupled with excellent writing that’ll keep you hooked. The Rape Trial by Bidisha Ghosal makes for a great read. I have been reading the book since the past couple of weeks and now that I have finished reading it, I already miss it. Such is the power of words.

You can buy the book here:

Notion Press: https://notionpress.com/read/the-rape-trial

The Little Prince by Antoine de-Saint Exupery: An emotional rollercoaster of a book.

The Little Prince is a novella that was written by Antoine de Saint- Expert in 1943. It has since been translated into several languages & has made its mark as a classic. Although meant for children, TLP carries poignant themes of love, loss, loneliness, and human nature. I don’t know what I was expecting while reading this book but it had a profound impact on me.

A narrator, who is a pilot, crash lands on Sahara & only has 8 days of water supply left. Here’s when he meets a little boy, Nicknamed ‘little prince’ who belongs to a tiny planet called B-612. While the narrator is busy repairing his plane, the little boy recounts his life on his pint-sized planet, where he spends all his time cleaning minuscule volcanoes and removing unwanted seeds. 

The tone and narrative technique written from the perspective of the pilot add a sombre, measured pace which works for the fantastical and unrealistic elements the author was going for. The author derived inspiration from his own life when in 1939 his plane crash-landed at the Sahara desert. Due to severe dehydration, both Antoine and his co-navigator, began hallucinating and started seeing mirages. They were finally rescued by a group of nomadic Arab people. 

I’m not going lie, I was really emotional after reading TLP. Maybe it was the subtle theme of childhood nostalgia, of growing up, learning life’s nuances & unlearning them after a point. It’s a little book but there’s so much to unpack here. The beauty of reading is that you’re allowed your own interpretation. You’re allowed to acknowledge the book for what it makes you feel.

Read it because you’ll understand life so much better.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: A novel about art, beauty and dark side of humanity.

Oscar Wilde in his widely read and often critiqued book explores themes of aestheticism, vanity, of inherently flawed individuals, and hedonism.

A book that explores art, beauty, and the moral grounds one is faced with, of corruption and its consequences, the dark side of humanity, and how one can become maniacal in their idiosyncrasies, and temperament. Oscar Wilde in his widely read and often critiqued book explores themes of aestheticism, vanity, of inherently flawed individuals, and hedonism.

It’s difficult to review a book of this nature. A lot has been discussed and written about it already, and rightly so. We have Basil Hallward, who paints a beautiful portrait of Dorian, and is enamored by his beauty, and gentle nature. Dorian Gray, a charming lad, with a sheltered life, tumbles into the company of Lord Henry, and here’s where his perfectly happy, non-problematic life turns into a devil’s playschool. He continues to live a shallow life, reveling in richness and lavish dinners, tainted by the superficiality of the world, and getting deeper into the pits of self-obsession. His narcissistic personality overpowers his ability to form normal relationships. Dorian ceases to age while something cruel and bizarre starts happening to the painting.

Oscar has written a harrowing tale of a man who never ages. It’s sinister at best, mocking in its approach to how beauty surpasses moral intellect and art. The book also harbors themes of eternal youth which reminds me of Doctor Faustus. I think it also partially touches upon homosexuality, which is a brave attempt, considering the time it was written in.  It’s a tragic commentary on the human soul, and how it’s easy to manipulate individuals, reflecting on the power art holds and how it’s so misinterpreted.

I had a perfect picture with my little brother (who is not-so-little anymore) but I realized I need to stop worrying about perfect pictures and be more candid. This is me making him pose with the book. He was cranky the entire time.

Prelude To A Riot by Annie Zaidi: The novel captures the beginning of the end of a divided India.

Mass polarization and hear-say instead of careful deliberation is the tone of today’s India. Mirroring the dysfunctional, unreliable & highly fractured world, Prelude To A Riot takes us through the lens of the past, the series of events that followed it, ultimately leading to our downfall.

Annie Zaidi’s novel captures the anxiety, fear, injustice and othering of certain sections of society in this slim book of merely 192 pages. Situated somewhere in South-India with banana and pepper plantations, two families—one Hindu & Muslim who are estate-owners, reside. The seeds of communal tensions have been sowed, now with intolerance and refusal to consider humanity as a foundation, with a dash of bigotry and ideological differences, this plant of hatred and indifference takes shape. Prelude to A Riot, written through soliloquies of characters, shows the trailer, before the actual movie. Riots are not only limited to burning of vehicles, destroying anyone or anything that comes in between—but years and years of conditioning, years of being made to feel inferior, through an attack on one’s faith, an assault on one’s identity. Discussing a number of socio-political issues with utmost sincerity, Annie brings to light several privileges that come at a high cost and the push and pull between ‘them’ and ‘us’ 

The current political scenario has collectively disappointed us as citizens, targeting and casting one religion as the ‘other’. In one of the instances in the book, Appa, an estate owner resents Muslim and refers to them as ‘outsiders’ despite them living in the state for several decades. This hit home. I had to stop reading because for the first time I realized this wasn’t only fictional, that this is the reality we’re living in. I can’t describe the feeling of helplessness that took its course right after. Mass polarization and hear-say instead of careful deliberation is the tone of today’s India. Mirroring the dysfunctional, unreliable & highly fractured world, Prelude To A Riot takes us through the lens of the past, the series of events that followed it, ultimately leading to our downfall. 

Please read this book. 

Identity: Beyond Borders

The anti-narcotics team had arrived. We were about to go through another rigorous round of security check. Sheru, one of the sniffer dogs, was sun-bathing when he heard his name being called, after which, he jumped excitedly and proceeded towards us. If you’re a fully functional human being with a heart, the sight of a dog in uniform will melt you. We took out our cell phones but were soon rebuked for doing so. This was serious business and Sheru had work to do. Walking in and around our luggage, which were quite a few, Sheru moved on to other passengers. At this point, we were getting late. We had to cross the Wagah Border by afternoon and we hadn’t even boarded the bus that would take us there. To add to our woes, it had started raining. Having grown up in India, watching parades being held on Independence Day at the Wagah Border, always seemed mystical—something out of a movie. Except this was real life, and this wasn’t a drill or an extended joke. My siblings and I had imagined a lot of things we’d be able to witness at the border. It was our first time, it was going be a historic moment for us all. Naturally, we were thrilled. The whole idea of crossing the border by foot is, in my opinion, a little hilarious and maybe unreal. How can a single man-made line divide entire countries? How can the fate of so many people be decided, depending on which side of the line you were in? I guess, my questions were about to be answered.

At one point of time, we were in the no-man’s land— that little space before you step into another country, not belonging to either India or Pakistan. A single step forward would put an official tag of which country I was standing in. It didn’t mean anything, it didn’t deter where I was from, it didn’t take away my roots. Standing there under the biting Amritsar rain, waiting to cross the border, it didn’t feel too magical or heroic. Instead, I was trying to absorb, to understand the seriousness of the situation. I was blown away by the high-rise walls, the beautiful golden dome that you see, with ‘India’s Line of Defense’ written in bold right at the center. In between dragging our luggage and getting anxious about just everything in general, we forgot that our crossing the border coincided with the lowering of the flags’ ceremony, a daily military practice, at the Attari-Wagah border, carried by both India and Pakistan’s security forces ever since 1959. There were people from both sides of the line, who had come with their friends & family, to witness the parade. There were the national flags of both the countries, dancing in the rain, looking at its people, and what had become of it. Despite the terrible weather, the stands were filling up fast. You could see colorful umbrellas forming a canopy at opposite ends, a kind of shield, a form of defiance. Humans have unwavering resilience when they put their mind to something. It was time for us to finally walk our way into another country, passports ready. My grandmother was given a wheelchair, chaperoned by one of the coolies who helped her cross the border at lightning fast speed. 

 It’s a joke in the family now; of us parading in the middle as we dragged our luggage to the other end while the crowd sat at both sides watching us march helplessly. 

I couldn’t stop noticing a woman in her late 50s, who was alone, carrying a dozen bags filled with fresh produce, a few belongings that she would be needing and sheer determination on her face. Maybe she was a vendor, making a living selling fruits & vegetables. She painstakingly tried lifting her heavy bags onto the trolleys right after crossing the border. To avoid a crowd, the security was tightened. The woman was struggling to assemble her belongings and she asked my brother for help. We were busy collecting our luggage to be put in trolleys so that we could proceed towards immigration. We looked back to see the woman give her blessings to my brother for his help, smiling, her eyes moist—forming wrinkles that made her look older. She waved at us and went her way. Did she belong to India or Pakistan? It didn’t matter, not at that moment. There were so many like us, wanting to see their relatives, with longing in their eyes & joy at seeing their loved ones after an unsparing journey. 

This wasn’t going to be the first and last time I was to experience human empathy in all its glory. Belonging to a family who suffered the aftermath of Partition, I know well enough, the limitless ways in which people have extended their support throughout. It’s times like these when humans surpass themselves, with only kindness and empathy as their deus ex machina

We may be divided, we may have forgotten true nationalism, but the kindness of our hearts cannot be bought, it cannot be traded or diminished. We may lose everything one day but empathy? It’s embedded in stone and it’s here to stay. 

WORDS

I wonder how a few words strung together have the power to make one believe in something, anything. I wonder how a single line captivates us so much that we stop reading it mid-sentence, closing the book & taking a pause because what we just read made us feel things we didn’t know we were capable of feeling.

I wonder how a few words strung together have the power to make one believe in something, anything. I wonder how a single line captivates us so much that we stop reading it mid-sentence, closing the book & taking a pause because what we just read made us feel things we didn’t know we were capable of feeling. These words and these stories have transformed, inspired and created a whole generation of people who feel a little less burdened, and a lot more carefree. I’ve always had an over-active imagination. Growing up, I found myself struggling to contain them, thinking something was wrong with me. I was filled with ideas, some were crazier than I would like to admit, but there were quite a few. It didn’t matter how or where, my head would always be like a movie, with characters playing their part, almost like reading from a script. The only problem was I didn’t know what to do with this huge cast that was living rent free in my head. Books were there. I had access to them. But I didn’t turn to them frequently. They didn’t catch my attention. My mother would dread summer vacations since I’d be dancing on her head, crying over how bored I was, and how summer vacations should not even be a thing. It was almost hilarious because my brothers would spend hours on video games or going outside to play. I would accompany them, play for hours but still come back wanting something more simulating, something that would hold me down. 

And just like most great things, I picked a book out of nowhere. For the first time in my life, the stories in my head seemed real. I don’t think you understand the power a 12year old feels when she realizes that the things in her head weren’t crazy after all, and that impossible, magical and even extraordinary things happen in books and nobody thinks you’ve lost it.

I was invincible. I didn’t know what to do with this newly recognized power. I was going crazy just thinking about it. I started devouring books, anything I could get my hands on, and finished it in a day, ready for another book. 

I often wonder what life would’ve been like if I wasn’t an active reader? To be honest, I shudder to even consider such a possibility. If life with its rocky roads, and curvy turns has thrown me off guard & made me lose balance then books with terrific healing power and warm embrace have helped me prepare for the uncertain. 

Words, well, they’re not just words after all. 

Top Ten Favourite Books of 2019

To squeeze together everything about 2019 in a post is a herculean task. For I can never write in words how much books have changed me inside out, how every story has molded how I view the world and how every character taught me empathy, resilience and love.

I’m sitting in front of my bookshelf that’s messy and unstructured, quite like life itself. Some books are placed perfectly in their place,  others have toppled and reshaped themselves, trying to fit in, while some others are holding on to dear life. To squeeze together everything about 2019 in a post is a herculean task. For I can never write in words how much books have changed me inside out, how every story has molded how I view the world and how every character taught me empathy, resilience and love. I quit my job earlier this year to focus on working in the publishing industry. After interning for 3 months at BEE Books , I started working as an Editor which has been a lifelong dream. It was unnerving quitting a full time job to pursue a career in publishing knowing there aren’t many options where I live. I also travelled a lot this year, and spent quality time with family & friends. .
I didn’t write much at all considering it was supposed to be top priority. But hey, it’s never too late to start working on what you want.

In terms of reading, it has been quite a learning experience. I’ve read non-fiction & fiction, each widely contrasting to one another. I’ve had bouts of reading slumps, life getting in between everything, losing motivation et cetera. Through it all, I managed to read 42 books which I’m content with. The quantity doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, but if you want to read as many books as you can in a lifetime, such measures of counting and setting up reading challenges must be employed.

Here are the books I loved and recommended to everyone this year(in no particular order of publication):

  • Educated by Tara Westover: If there’s one book you can read this year, let it be this one.
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
  • My Sister,The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  • The Empty Room by Sadia Abbas
  • Small Days & Nights by Tishani Doshi
  • Eating Wasps by Anita Nair
  • A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Here’s hoping 2020 to be a blessed reading year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: A psychological thriller that’s unputdownable!

Alex Michaelides’s debut novel reads like a slow burn thriller but surprises you when you least expect it.

I’m going to go so far as to say that The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is hands down one of the best debut novels I’ve read. His immersive, slow-burning, keeping-you-on-the-edge novel has lived up to the hype it has been receiving and rightly so.

When Alicia, a famous painter shoots her husband five times without any remorse, she becomes the talk of the town. Discarded by the people, her refusal to defend herself or talk, immediately perks the psychotherapist, theo’s interest. While Alicia is being kept in a forensic unit in London, called The Grove- Theo is hellbent on making Alicia talk. He’s as fascinated about Alicia’s life as he is about her deafening silence. When the opportunity to become her psychotherapist arrives, Theo jumps to take the offer. Here starts the cat & mouse chase as Theo tries to unravel layer by layer, dissecting the infamous life of Alicia, and what caused her to murder her husband.

The narrative structure of the novel doesn’t read like a thriller in the sense that it doesn’t have whiplash moments, or hands-on-mouth kind of a situation- it seeps deeper into the psyche of the mind, and tries to understand the ‘WHY’ rather than the ‘HOW’. The more you read it, the more bizarre and twisted it becomes. We see the story unfold through Theo’s eyes as he begins his sessions with Alicia, trying to talk his way through the walls she’s built. Not just that, we also learn a lot about Theo, his abusive past, and why he wanted to make a career in mental health, and his ultimate fascination of the notorious Alicia.

Read The Silent Patient for its immaculate plot, excellent narrative structure, and for an in-depth character study that runs parallel to great storytelling! It has also been optioned for a film, and I CANNOT wait!


Author: Alex Michaelides

Publisher: Orion Books

Genre: Psychological thriller

Rating:4.8/5

 

Blurb

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

Mental Health Representation in Books & Why It’s Important.

The importance of mental health representation in books.

Dorian Gray Syndrome, famously coined after Dorian Gary, Oscar Wilde’s most talked about character in his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, displays chronic narcissism, dysmorphophobia, and failure to cope with psychological maturation. Dorian is described as self-obsessed, is hated by society, and ultimately meets a cruel end. BDD or Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental illness characterized by this illusion that one’s body part is flawed, and therefore needs fixing. The thoughts can be compulsive and pervasive, taking up several hours in a day. But I’m not here to give you a rundown of what it is about. The time in which Oscar Wilde wrote his only novel was devoid of the concept of mental illness. Anyone displaying any signs of an unhealthy mind was considered mental or crazy or Satan’s spawn.

However, we’ve come a long way since then. Writers are advocating for mental health representation in books, voicing their opinions strongly, and ensuring awareness of mental illness takes place through the written word.

When I read Matt Haig’s book, REASONS TO STAY ALIVE, I was overwhelmed by the accuracy with which he spoke about his tryst with anxiety and depression. At that time, I knew only the surface layer of what anxiety might feel like, having experienced general anxiety that comes with living. Little did I know, I would come back to read this book over and over again when my anxiety had skyrocketed, leaving me with dread and constant worry. What is it about the written word that’s so comforting? Why are we drawn to fictional characters, their life, and their experiences? The week following my onset of anxiety I would unknowingly just reach for his book and spend hours reading and then re-reading some more. Even while at work, I would look forward to just returning home so that I could read. It’s unexplainable, the desire to get lost in words. Not much has changed, I still reach for a book, and it’s a reflex I’ve mastered. Books have made me realize we’re all together in our pain and struggle, that even if our world is turned upside down, we can turn to books even if it’s not real.

Mental health representation in books is highly imperative and plays a huge role in defining mental illnesses across all specters. The ability of the readers to be able to connect with the characters, to empathize with them, to understand how despite all the barriers, one is not alone, helps in coping with their own struggles. A simple acknowledgment on the part of the writers about mental illness goes a long way in removing the stigma and spreading awareness. Mental illness is a broad spectrum, one that cannot be confined to a particular book; but the act of learning and relearning by the mere turning of pages brings to the reader a sense of responsibility and a conscience that didn’t exist earlier. They begin to unravel layers of complexity in their brains and start to see things from other people’s perspective. It’s important to note that readers are smart, they grasp the subtleties and hints and a sudden change in emotion of the characters way better than writers could possibly imagine. Reading opens up space for the readers to finally let themselves lose, to understand their emotions and maybe come to terms with it. Hence, the onus falls on the writers to be sensitive to the characters, and give them the ending they deserve.

While many readers believe that the representation of mental health in books has helped them tremendously, others beg to differ. For someone who is suffering from mental illness, it becomes difficult to read about characters that hit really close to home. The pain and heartache become all too familiar, often acting as a trigger. Every reader is different, and their experiences have shaped them into the person they are which is why certain stories instead of calming them, tend to revive memories they wish to forget. Here’s where the depiction of mental illness falls into a grey area.

Most books, though well intended, fail to act as flag bearers of mental health because of their over-stereotypical nature, and exaggerated narrative, lack of sensitivity, and not to mention the tragic fate of their characters who’ve endured some form of mental illness. A dangerous trend of romanticizing and painting a rosy picture of mental illness has created a superficial image in the readers’ mind. It has become the new cool, and something the reader must aspire to in order to be accepted in their social circle. Not only is it detrimental to their own character development, but it also tears apart the struggles of people with mental illness. Misrepresentation of mental health robs a person from hope, and a chance to live a normal life. Extensive research and in-depth analysis are required on the part of the writers to be able to do justice to their story, and to mental health.

It’s more than just accurate representation in books. Most youngsters are still trying to understand what goes on in their heads, and books come closest in unraveling the chaos that is in their minds. In India, mental illness is still a stigma. Many people are unable to get help and suffer in silence. The existence of real characters displaying mental health issues is a powerful medium through which one can feel validated, and identify the core of their problem.

A little sensitivity, knowledge, and empathy on the part of the writers can go a long way in assuring people who may be suffering to believe in a better world. To know that you can be going through the hardest time of your life, and still emerge unscathed. For them to understand that their mental illness should not define who they are, that they are stronger than the voices in their heads, and to not feel alone in a world that has the potential to swallow you up in its entirety.

While we’re at the topic of mental health, it’s only fair that we hear what writers feel about mental health representation in books. I spoke to some authors and this is what they have to say:

  • There are a few stories on mental health and mostly deal with women or children. There are very few novels about men who are going through a mental breakdown. If at all, they are thrillers usually. Madness or mental breakdowns make people vulnerable. There are so many ways that a mental health breakdown can be depicted. For example, many people sometimes won’t even consider that Gatsby was not mentally stable. I think the representation of mental health is something readers have to develop as awareness as well.

————— Faiqa Mansab, author This house of Clay and Water

  • As an author, I think that mental health concerns are really not addressed I books adequately. There are different aspects to mental health other than depression which is never really spoken about in books. Schizophrenia is always spoken in the context of thrillers or suspense but no one ever covers the misery or the helplessness that a person suffering from schizophrenia goes through. There’s some awareness about depression and to some extent about general mental health after Bollywood started speaking of it, as it became somewhat acceptable but in books, we are yet to see that happen.

———-Monica Mujumdar Dixit, author of A Quest for Spring

  • To be honest, I am aware of 2 fiction novels by Indian authors that deal with mental health – Life is What You Make it by Preeti Shenoy and a recent one Missing Presumed Dead by Kiran.

Mental Health is certainly not an easy topic to write about. It needs much more research than simply going online and typing Mental Health on Google. But it can no longer be ignored. Data by WHO indicates one in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders. Despite these numbers, people are unwilling to talk about their issues. There is a stigma attached to it and people end up suffering in silence. I truly believe authors need to be encouraged to write about diverse characters. It is the best way to create a conversation about issues that so many of us have to face in isolation.

You know when we read an interesting story and we go like “Oh man, I totally get what she’s going through.” That’s what we need today with these sticky topics too. Those who suffer should know they are not alone in this battle. When I say diverse … I strongly believe we need to bring more variety to our characters. Let’s weave stories that represent divorce, homosexuality, mental health, learning disabilities in their true form. These stories don’t have to be grim and depressing. I was lucky to work with Juggernaut and write about some tough topics in my debut novel. I do hope as authors we continue to see that support. Indian readers have devoured novels like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Bell Jar. And Preeti’s novel went on to become a bestseller. So we have the appetite…we just need to be presented with a spread.

————-Donna Dias, author of Love is Never Easy

I’ve compiled a list of books, TV shows, and Movies that talk about mental health:

BOOKS:

  • Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  • First, we make the beast beautiful by Sarah Wilson
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.
  • The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

TV-SHOWS

  • Modern Narratives
  • Rewind to the 90s
  • Public vs Private
  • The Good Doctor (ABC)
  • This is Us
  • Jessica Jones (Netflix)
  • You’re the Worst

MOVIES:

  • The Silver Linings Playbook
  • Black Swan
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Still Alice
  • Shutter Island
  • Fight Club
  • Finding Nemo

At the end of the day, one needs to understand that the experience of reading a book is subjective, and our collective thoughts will be different. However, mental health representation depends highly on how the authors treat the issue. We need more writers who are empathic, and understand how vulnerable people with mental illness feel so that the stories they create make them feel that all is not lost even though it may feel like it.