Literature uses language as a medium of expression- the written word. By thus using it, literature polishes language. Literature perfects a language- makes it precise, moulding it to articulate the various shades and nuances of meaning and self-expression.

Book Review Circle gossip

In this issue I shall continue to share the results of my research on ‘how to read literature’.

Read LiteratureI shall talk of 4 more methods of understanding a literary text better. They are:

Social Context

            No matter how fanciful the literary work is, it always draws from societal patterns and has a message for it. The message may be didactic, or simply analytical. But the novel will always refer to social customs, behaviors and patterns. The reader may try to analyze these patterns in the novel. For example, in the popular children’s classic the ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ the author juxtaposes social norms of propriety against the rebelling nature of the protagonist, Huckleberry Finn.  Huck prefers to live in the wilderness, instead of townships. In spite of being a white boy, Huck befriends Jim who is a runaway slave. Huck’s values go against societal norms. And yet he is not evil. The author, Mark Twain forces us to examine the value and efficacy of such social norms through his novel.


How has the author organized the novel? From what sources has he used information for the novel? Are the sources adequate? What kind of questions does the author raise in the book? Does the author give sufficient points to justify his question? For example in the Booker Prize winning novel Disgrace, J M Coetzee questions the nature of social disgrace and in order to illustrate his point, he narrates the story of various individuals in various forms of social disgrace.


            Is the author articulate enough? Does he attempt to answer the questions raised in the book? Are their passages of eloquence in the novel? Is the author indicative and succinct? Or does he provide meticulous details? In the Booker Prize winning novel Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha, the author’s writing style resembles the thought patterns of a 10 year old Irish boy. This technique is called ‘stream of consciousness’. The reader is challenged to look beyond the simple boyish statements of Paddy Clark in order to discover significant story developments.

Personal Evaluation

            Reading is not a passive process. The reader interacts constantly with words written by the author. These words conjure up images, thoughts and emotions in the reader. After finishing a novel, therefore, the reader’s very personal response to the novel is an important component of the pleasure of reading- and also a very important determinant of the commercial success of the literary work.

Book Review Circle suggested read:

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey. This book has been longlisted for The Booker Prize,2010. If Carey wins this year, he shall be the only novelist to have won The Booker thrice!

Book Review Circle Quiz:

See if you know answers to the following
  1. Who are the 2 authors to have received The Booker Prize twice?
  2. Which novels by Peter Carey were awarded The Booker?
  3. Which novels by J M Coetzee were awarded The Booker?


  1. Peter Carey and J M Coetzee
  2. True History of the Kelly Gang, and Oscar and Lucinda
  3. Life & Times of Michael K and Disgrace

Do write in to me at with your comments, updates and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ok. I will leave you to munch on that.

Happy reading till we meet again.