Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners but is now currently being hosted by Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog. This meme is quite easy to follow – just randomly pick a book from your to-be-read list and give the reasons why you want to read it. It is that simple.

This week’s book:

Goat Days by Benyamin

Blurb from Goodreads

Najeeb’s dearest wish is to work in the Gulf and earn enough money to send back home. He achieves his dream only to be propelled by a series of incidents, grim and absurd, into a slave-like existence herding goats in the middle of the Saudi desert. Memories of the lush, verdant landscape of his village and of his loving family haunt Najeeb whose only solace is the companionship of goats. In the end, the lonely young man contrives a hazardous scheme to escape his desert prison.

Goat Days was published to acclaim in Malayalam and became a bestseller. One of the brilliant new talents of Malayalam literature, Benyamin’s wry and tender telling transforms this strange and bitter comedy of Najeeb’s life in the desert into a universal tale of loneliness and alienation.

Why I Want To Read It

Happy start of the week everyone! I know that for many, including yours truly, Monday is your least favorite day of the week. But hey, perk up! Mondays also mean an opportunity to start over, to start afresh. It opens seven new days to better ourselves and pursue whatever we are passionate about. I hope that the rest of the week will go well. More importantly, I hope that you are all doing well and are in a good state of health, both in mind and body. The Philippines is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Further adding general anxiety is the confirmation of the country’s first monkeypox case. With the resumption of regular social and economic activities, many have been complacent. Many are taking protocols for granted. I just hope that the cases for both monkeypox and COVID-19 will be contained. I also implore everyone to be diligent in observing minimum health protocols.

To kickstart the blogging week, I am posting a new Goodreads Monday update. After immersing myself in the works of Japanese literature during my birth month, I have resolved to journey across the rest of the Asian continent. Asian literature is a very vast sphere and I have just realized how lacking my exploration of it is. I have always thought that I have read quite a lot of Asian literature but it seems that I have been mistaken. As such, I am again dedicating an entire month to works of Asian literature. I have just completed Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng’s gorgeous novel, The Garden of Evening Mists and I am currently delving into Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand. Tomb of Sand recently earned my interest after it won the 2022 International Booker Prize, even besting Nobel Laureate in Literature Olga Tokarczuk’s magnum opus, The Books of Jacob. To align with this month’s theme, I will be featuring works of Asian literature in my Goodreads Monday updates. This week I am featuring Benyamin’s Goat Days.

Interestingly, I am featuring an Indian writer for the second consecutive week. Not only that, like R.K. Narayan, Benyamin (born Benny Daniel) is a name unfamiliar to me. This just underlines the fact that Indian literature is a part of the literary world that I have underexplored. Sure, I have read several works of Salman Rushdie and some Booker Prize-winning works such as Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger and Arundathi Ruy’s The God of Small Things but beyond them, I admit that my venture into Indian literature is limited at best. This is considering the scores of literary figures that India has produced. I am now on a mission to expand my horizon vis-a-vis parts of the literary world I haven’t explored that much.

Originally published in Malayalam as ആടുജീവിതം Aadujeevitham in 2008, Goat Days is Benyamin’s most popular work. The novel is based on actual events and was a sensation in Kerala, Benyamin’s birthplace, upon its publication. It has also received several nominations from award-winning bodies. Its English translation, released in 2012, was longlisted for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Filipinos, I believe, can relate to the story because it is the story of an abused migrant worker in Saudi Arabia. Several Filipinos have flocked to the Middle East in search of the proverbial greener pastures. Unfortunately, several, mainly women working as domestic helpers, have been subjected to different forms of abuse. It is no wonder the book was banned in UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Hopefully, these books will open more opportunities to read works of Indian literature. However, I must first obtain a copy of the book. How about you fellow reader? Are there works of Indian literature you want to recommend? Do drop it in the comment box. For now, happy Monday and, as always, happy reading!