[Book Review] The Dove's Lament by Kirthi Jayakumar


When I first heard the title The Dove’s Lament I was intrigued. My mind envisioned all the possible associations with the word dove. Was it a book about the oppressed, the meek or was it about a mute witness. ‘What was the reason for the lament?' I asked myself. Then I happened to see the unique design on the cover of the book and was even more curious. (I later learnt that it was the handiwork of the multitalented author herself)

I secured for myself a copy and when I read her foreword I was thoroughly floored. The foreword built up in me a great curiosity that was validated in story after story. The 148 page book is a unique experiment as it combines stories with an essay that gives a time, a locus and an ethos to each story – the story and the essay together interlock the theme discussed and it gives credence and ensures that the events described stay with us for a very long time.

While I was reading it, I was struck by how the book is a work of fiction, history and journalism all rolled into one. With her astute grip on politics and world affairs, The Dove’s Lament is a wonderful read and the writer presents the human angle to mankind's suffering.

Her language is powerful and forceful and her choice of words is amazing.

The impact of a book largely depends on the way, we, the readers experience the events in the book and Kirthi succeeds in this enterprise through the characters that she has created and the powerful narration that makes us participants in a 'lived' experience. She combines effective journalism with traditional empathetic and compelling storytelling.

Kirthi has also adopted a unique storytelling style in the book. The stories do not reveal everything in one go – it feels more like a quest where the writer teases your imagination, tweaks your curiosity by revealing clues bit by bit and you stay glued to the writing eager to piece together all the clues and then read on, just to derive the satisfaction of knowing whether your guesses were right.

The Dove’s Lament is an incredible exploration of the psyche, the mindscape of people encountering extreme trauma. While I liked all the stories- the seventh story Desiccated Land is my favourite for its pace in the narration.

If I were to pinpoint the negatives in the book- I would perhaps touch upon the length of the stories. They seem a bit short and since the narration is particularly interesting, one feels cheated when the stories end too soon. The stories also focus on very few characters and the exchanges between them are almost minimal. Sometimes the essays tend to veer towards a textbook style. But this does not take away the impact of the book or the sincerity and sensitivity of the writer.

The Dove’s Lament promises the reader a world tour that you can take sitting in your arm chair – and you can travel on the wings of the dove to nations far away - nations ravaged by war and the powerful writing grips you and you stay afloat and it takes an enormous effort to realize that you are actually reading a book.

The Dove's Lament is published by Readomania and is available on Flipkart and Amazon. Do grab your copy today!



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