Book review: The Sleeping Dictionary

Author: Sujata Massey


I'm not gonna lie: I got this book because of it's title. I was intrigued by the word "dictionary" as a book worm I am and I was pleasently surprised with the plot. You're not going to guess, unless you are super intellingent and savvy (?), what it means until you're half way through the story. 



When I realized it was based in India I was dissapointed, I don't know why! Maybe because it was out of my comfort zone, but I was instantly gripped by the story of this girl, whose real name we'll never know, that loses her family in a tsunami. Don't worry, I am not spoiling anything. 

The author is part Indian, a good reason why this book taught me a lot about this country. I learned things about this culture, some things I should have known. It starts around the 1930's and it's fascinating throughout.

The characters in this story are rich, complex and complete in their own essence. The journey the main character embarks in due to a natural disaster is full of pain, but of learning. 

I would say this is a Bildungsroman: a novel of formation, education, culture, a coming-of-age story. It starts when Kamala (the last name we'll known her by but not her birth name nonetheless) is 10 years old and it ends when she's 26.  However, she doesn't go "out there" by her own motus but because she's forced by the tide wave. 

I highly recommend this novel if you want a page turner, and if you like historical novels where books take an important part. It definitely "teaches" a lot about a culture and perspective of the time of WWII from the view of the Indians and English living in Calcutta. 

Five stars for me!


BEWARE: the movie by the same name starring Jessica Alba is NOT based on this book.

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