Sometime during my childhood, I learned that Heaven was under the feet of my mother. I was probably sitting in Sunday School, resenting that I was there instead of sleeping in, wishing to be anywhere else. What did it mean, that Heaven was beneath her feet? Was it a mobile place? Did I have to lift her to get in? For a long time, my mother was just my mother. She wasn’t the key to Heaven. And so it was in Please Look After Mom as well.
There are two questions swirling at the center of Please Look After Mom, a heartbreaking look at a family’s unraveling after its older, ailing matriarch goes missing at a subway station in Seoul. The first comes fast; it hits you hard, in the gut, and makes you think that if it were you, if it were your mom who had gotten lost, you would do whatever it took to find her. In fact, you would never lose your mother in the first place. You are so caring, so diligent a child that the prospect of not knowing your mom’s whereabouts is actually impossible. But is that true? If your mom got lost, would you pace the streets of your city, day in and day out, like you expect the characters here to do? Would you place ads in the paper and flyers on telephone poles? Would you revisit the subway station over and over? Well, would you? After a while, probably not. You have a life, a job, a family of your own. But you wonder, if this happened, would you do more than they did to find their lost mom?
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In India, the word “Maoist” is thrown around like “terrorist” in America. Anyone who fits the profile–physical, geographic, socioeconomic–falls into the Maoist bucket, just another drop in the undercurrent of revolution flowing through the subcontinent. While some Americans peg people as terrorists for their looks and supposed faith, many Indians imagine that anyone who fights the system, for better pay or food or civil liberties, is a Maoist, no matter their actual political affiliation.
Read more: Book Review: “Walking With the Comrades,” by Arundhati Roy | Divanee – South Asian news and entertainment.
Books about beauty tend to suffer from a certain level of hokeyness that comes with reassuring readers that it’s okay to care enough about their appearance to read an entire volume on it. On top of that, books that push a certain beauty philosophy risk traipsing into marketing territory. Kristen Ma’s “Beauty Pure and Simple” skirts that line, but stays on the safe side with an interesting and educational read.
Read more: Book Review: “Beauty Pure and Simple” by Kristen Ma | Divanee – South Asian news and entertainment.
With people fighting to earn Foursquare badges by checking in to their apartment buildings and other mundane locations every day, it’s hard to remember that we do not live in a video game where our sole purpose is to make it to the next level. In a whimsical and truly playful turn, Salman Rushdie stabs at our desire to collect magic mushrooms through the eyes of a 12-year-old protagonist in “Luka and the Fire of Life.”
Read more: September Book of the Month: “Luka and the Fire of Life” by Salman Rushdie | Divanee – South Asian news and entertainment.
If anyone were ever an armchair adventurer, it would not be me. My favorite books are emotional and psychological. I like to read about feelings. But despite that, I loved “The Last Man on the Mountain: The Death of an American Adventurer on K2.” For all its action and adventure, it was the psychological trauma and tension that came to life and made this an entrancing read.
Read more: August Book of the Month: “The Last Man on the Mountain” by Jennifer Jordan | Divanee – South Asian news and entertainment.