Book: The Island of the Day Before
Author: Zuni Chopra
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 224; Price: Rs 299
I had known Zuni Chopra as daughter of journalist Anupama and filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra. She’s just another star kid till I came across her second book The Island of The Day Before, which actually is the only work by her I have read. Honestly, I wasn’t very excited to review this book by some 17-year-old kid whose only credentials I knew were being the daughter of famous parents.
But, once I started reading, Zuni changed my mind. You can always learn the art of writing, anybody can be a writer, but there are some who are born to write. Zuni is one of them. She can play with words, she is developing her own style and she knows how to keep her readers hooked… all the qualities of a successful writer.
It wasn’t difficult to understand that the book is written by a teenager on the cusp of losing childhood and moving toward adulthood. The stories are a mix of fantasy, pragmatism and observations but they also reflect the inquisitive mind of a youngster ready to venture into the big bad world of maturity and practicality. Her protagonists are both scared and brave… an insight into the mind of a teenager looking forward to her tomorrow.
The Island of the Day Before is a mix of poems, short stories, flash fiction… as if the author has opened her doors to her readers and is letting them enter her mind full of imagination and optimism. The stories maybe dreamy but there’s hint of dark world too. For example, in her story about the Matchstick girl, Zuni though brings to life a non-living object, she doesn’t shy away from telling her readers that not all are as lucky as this one particular matchstick girl. The story is also a message to all adults who stop believing in miracles. Zuni’s observations of the material world are subtle hints to all mankind of losing dreams and fulfilling hollow promises.
The stories are heavily influenced by many writers, which I assume must be Zuni’s inspiration. You can catch a glimpse of Carroll Lewis and JK Rowling when the author weaves the tales of chocolate ponds and sailing ships, but you also have observations of urban youngster sharing a glass of beer with ordinary men and listening to their extraordinary experiences. She maybe under the influence of her idols, but it’s only a matter of time when this young girl would shine bright with her own light.
The world is a tough place to be, but it’s these beautiful, hopeful voices that make it a better place. There are not many young writers and books for young adults in India. Zuni Chopra can easily fill that void. She has the ability to connect with her readers…both young and adult and she can write about the issues bugging her generation with much more ease than any writer older than their generation.