A review of the last book I read

Welcome to the first post of my 16 day blog challenge! Today, I’m writing a short book review of a book I finished quite recently, The Parcel by Anosh Irani. Now just to let you know, since having children, I haven’t read a huge amount of books, which is probably the worst consequence of having them. Worse than the belly flab!

I used to be a bookworm in my teens so not finding the time for reading has been really disappointing. However one of the positives of the pandemic and the current lockdown is that I can find more time for reading as long as I give the Netflix a bit of a rest!

I started reading The Parcel a few years ago when I picked it up at an airport. I read about half and stopped, mainly because I found it too disturbing. But I returned to it a few weeks ago because I hate leaving books unread. So yes you need a lot of nerve to get through this book.

The Parcel is a story about a transgender woman, Madhu in Mumbai, India. It details her childhood and how she was led through unacceptance, to run away from her family, ending up at a brothel. There she found her ‘community’ and thereby lived a life of extreme emotional and physical trauma. Madhu’s life as a prostitute, beggar, sister to younger girls is detailed, and the novel is quite graphic in places, and a little vulgar. The Parcel should definitely have a rating of 18+.

The unique thing about this book is the heart breaking story of Madhu’s life which will sadden anybody with a half a heart. The issues raised in the novel are something that anybody from the Sub-continent will be aware of; the hideous way the transgender community is treated, the abuse they endure and the poverty and crime they get caught up in, when all they really want is acceptance.

For me it was an eye opener to actually see the world from the point of view of a eunuch or ‘hijra’ as they’re referred to in Hindi and Urdu. The novel is educational and shocking in equal parts.

The Parcel actually refers to a 10 year-old-child that is sold to the brothel by her family and how Madhu and her friends train them into a life of prostitution. It’s a devastating read and really highlights issues of child prostitution, the treatment of transgenders, and poverty in India.

I think the author has done an amazing job writing such a real and believable character when he is not transgender himself. (I don’t think anyway)

If you’re looking for a real and raw read then this is it. I remember feeling similar anguish whilst reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, which was again a culture shock as well as heart rendering read.

I love reading novels that are written by authors of colour as there’s such an insight into different cultures and ways of life. If you have no experience of countries like India and Pakistan then this will be an even more shocking read!

Have you read The Parcel? What did you think of it?

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