I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
As a book blogger, I’ve worked with countless authors and publishers to review and promote their books. There are a few authors that I went on to be in touch with long after I’d reviewed their books and Pragya Bhagat is one of them. I reviewed Pragya’s book, More Than a Memory, and I fell in love with her poems. She then went on to write this guest post about writing memoirs on my series, AuthorsGetLit.
Pragya is the only Indian author I’ve worked with personally and I never cease to tell people how much I love her writing! When she asked me if I wanted to read and review Yarn, I jumped at the opportunity.
“Naniji, tell me your story.” What begins as a young woman’s question to her grandmother unexpectedly turns into a family saga. Compiled through family albums, home videos, journal entries, and interviews, Yarn follows the life of Pragya Bhagat’s grandmother, Shyama. At the age of ten, the pushes Shyama from Pakistan to India, but this is only the first of her many migrations. As each chapter of Shyama’s life unfolds, Pragya reflects on her own experiences with her grandmother, on family and friendship, on loving and losing. In her search for Naniji’s story, Pragya discovers parts of herself. Poignant and vulnerable, Yarn is the extraordinary tale of an ordinary Indian family, its joys and fears, its silences and secrets.
Yarn is the story of Pragya’s naniji (grandmother), interwoven with accounts by and of the other members of her family. Though the memoir starts off as one about Shyama ji, her nani, slowly, we get to read about Pragya and her relatives too. Every experience of Shyama ji is compared with something similar or polarly opposite in Pragya’s life.
Shyama ji was born and lived in Jallan, Pakistan and was forced to move to India after the Partition in 1947, when British India was split into India and Pakistan. As practicing Hindus, Shyama ji and her family were forced to leave Jallan and move to a foreign land, India.
I’ve read my fair share of memoirs and I can strongly say that I’ve never fallen more in love with the subject of a memoir. The story of Shyama ji started in the cobbled streets of Jallan and is now continuing in the middle class suburbs of Austin, Texas. All her life, she was struggling to find stability, constantly trying to make life better for herself and her family. This memoir ends with how she’s currently enjoying life in Texas.
Pragya doesn’t hold back while discussing her family. Every relative of hers whose story is worth mentioning is mentioned. The book made me feel like I’ve known her family for ages now. In fact, I’d love to have a chat with Shyama ji, nothing about what I learned from the book, but a regular one you’d have with an acquaintance over chai and biscuits.
Yarn is a story of resilience in the face of adversity and loss. It’s about family values and how they can change with time. Filled with stories that’ll make you fall in love with someone else’s grandmother, this is one memoir you definitely don’t want to miss out on!
Rating: 5 out of 5