The Isolation Door by Anish Majumdar {+Literary Blog Hop Giveaway!}



Kicks the isolation door wide open.

Synopsis of The Isolation Door by Anish MajumdarNeil Kapoor, 23, finds the fragile threads of a new life threatened by a mother's descent into schizophrenia.

The debut novel of acclaimed journalist Anish Majumdar examines the inner world of the mentally ill and those within their gravitational pull. A mother's delusions of Bollywood stardom become a son's raw materials for finding happiness beyond her shadow. Enlisting the aid of an Aunt with means and questionable motives, Neil finds love and forms crucial friendships. But when the life he's kept secret begins to crumble, a choice must be made: family or freedom? Intimate in approach and devastating in impact, The Isolation Door marks the arrival of a unique talent in American letters.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated towards schizophrenia research and treatment.

My two cents

This post is part of the The Literary Blog Hop Giveaway because I thought it was a beautiful piece to share with you all! There is a giveaway for 3 paperback copies (US/Can), courtesy of the publisher through TLC Book Tours.  

Make-up, a beautiful sari, and non-stop prattling about her adoring fans. Neil is helping his mother get ready for her big acting gig. But in a blink of an eye, this innocuous scene turns ugly when I realised that Neil was humouring his delusional mother to get her ready for readmission to the hospital. It's tough love .. unfortunately with roles reversed.

The opening scene sets the tone for a young man's personal journey from isolation, fear, and frustration to compassion, understanding and reconciliation.

***
This book did not disappoint and exceeded all my expectations in a wonderful way. It has an atmospheric quality to it but it is a brutal read. It is an intimate look into a young man's life that is impacted by his mother's schizophrenia. It is emotional, a little shocking in spots, painfully tragic in many instances, and searingly honest. 

There is so much to learn from this fictionalized experience: Neil's uncertainties and frustrations, his mother's confused struggle to make sense of things, a worried father and husband who does everything for the woman he loves, and the community from which they turn to for support. 

There were a few touches that I found really compelling:
1. I found really touching the loyalty of the relationship portrayed between husband and wife. One event just about broke my heart (no spoilers).

2. The parallels between Neil's relationship with his mother and girlfriend Emily. While his initial attraction to Emily - who was vulnerable and "damaged"- probably sprung naturally from having to deal with his mother's problems, the way he came to care for Emily probably wouldn't have been possible if not for his life experience.

3. The ending. I loved it.

Backing up a bit, when I saw this book up for review, I jumped on it. Coming from an Asian country where there is a continuing stigma on mental illness, I was curious to read another cultural take on this issue. The author is Bengali-Canadian-American and his strong ties to his own culture and the Bengali community played into the storyline. Always shrouded in secrecy, I felt an empathy to Neil's odd powerplay of relationship with his moneyed aunt (who didn't know how to handle her sister's mental illness) and moreso with his father who drew heavily from his friends and community for moral support and legal advice.  

This is a compelling read that sheds light on the personal struggles of families dealing with mental illness of a family member. This does a beautiful job of humanizing the impacts of mental illness, not only spreading awareness but, more importantly, encouraging us to be empathetic and compassionate. 

***

Uh-oh: This is written by a male. If you've read a lot of Murakami or Garcia Marquez, you'll know they love to punctuate their stories with some sexual scenes, which while not absolutely necessary to the storyline are there because, well, that's part of life. This is similar. 

Verdict: An affecting, empathetic portrayal of a young life forced to cope with the devastation of mental illness in the family. Incisive, brutal, raw and honest. Kicks the door wide open on the travails of families dealing with mental illness so that people not only understand this issue but even lend a helping hand. A dark yet empowering read! I highly recommend it and look forward to more of Majumdar's work. 

Interesting line:
I knew what it was to flounder in the service of a loved one. To know you were doing the right thing even as every instinct for self-preservation claimed otherwise. I've witnessed my father do it for most of his life. Far from discouraging or depressing me, I felt bolstered by the realization. - p. 74  


About Anish Majumdar

AnishAuthorPicAs a child growing up in Montreal, Canada, Anish Majumdar’s first creative writing lessons came courtesy of his mother, a former English teacher. Witnessing her struggle with schizophrenia had a profound impact and inspired The Isolation Door, his first novel.

His non-fiction work, appearing in many publications, has garnered Independent Press Association Awards for Feature Writing and Investigative Journalism. His short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives with his wife, son, and a growing menagerie of pets in Rochester, NY.

Connect with Anish Majumdar: Website Twitter | Google + | Facebook


Check out the rest of the tour here.
I received copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Book Depository
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Ravana Press (February 4, 2014)

Giveaway!
This post is part of the The Literary Blog Hop Giveaway
3 paperback copies (US/Can), courtesy of the publisher through TLC Book Tours
Please use PromoSimple form below, and don't forget to check out the other stops! 


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14 comments :

  1. Thank you so much for the insightful and thought provoking review, Aloi! One thing you touched on that's always fascinated me while growing up in a Bengali family in Canada was how this unquestioning loyalty to your family can co-exist with a deep-seated need to hide "shameful" things like mental illness in a loved one. So much pressure and love, and I'd imagine a struggle that other Asian cultures are also dealing with in their particular ways.

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    1. I know the stigma exists everywhere but in many countries, even the mere mention of going to a doctor is considered taboo. Its just isn't talked about. It's a wonderful thing to have family there to support people and their families, but the stigma adds a whole other layer of complication. I am always humbled at how loyalty and love is a given despite the "shame." Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is good to have more people rallying around this difficult subject matter.

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  2. I just read this book and loved it. I was quite surprised at how such a slim book could hold so much. A great give away prize!!

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  3. Great review of the book! As I mentioned yesterday, it sounds like a really interesting title tackling a hard but important topic. Thanks for hosting this great giveaway :)

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  4. I love the whole idea of the story especially since my older brother is schizophrenic and used to tell us he could control the universe. It's scary and painful to live with someone who has such a debilitating mental illness like this. We haven't seen him in three, almost four years, and it makes me sad but kind of relieved which then makes me guilty. Can't wait to read it:)

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  5. Sounds like this was an absolutely fabulous read! Thanks for being on the tour.

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  6. Looks like a compelling story about interpersonal relationships and a difficult subject that should be discussed more in the open. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

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  7. Sounds very good! Mental illness is scary, but fascinating in a way, too. I hope to win a copy! Thanks!

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  8. It sounds like an important book. Mental illness has such a stigma, in any country. It affects everyone. I'd love to win a copy.

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  9. It sounds like an emotional read

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  10. This book really looks right up my alley with my interest in mental health. Thanks for hosting a great giveaway and thanks for linking up!

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  11. This book looks very interesting. Unfortunately I'm on the wrong continent for winning. Even so, I am glad you are part of the blog hop and hope you are having a good time with it!

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  12. Great review of The Isolation Door, which coincidentally I'm reviewing next week for TLC. The relationships were what touched me at my very core. But I can't say too much here or I'll give away my review!!!

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  13. What great timing for this book, just two weeks after "Bell Let's Talk" in Canada. It is important for more information to come out about mental illness, and it becomes that much more poignant from a writer who has lived it. Whether it is a true story or a fictionalized character, there will be truth in Anish Majumdar's words. I hold books like these in my heart.
    A wonderful giveaway. Thanks for hosting it!

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