When you read a book, watch a movie, or get engrossed in a painting, there may come moments when you find an uncanny resemblance of a character in the art form with that of some real person you know. I have personally experienced it few times where I draw comparisons between the fictional character and someone from the living world. In this book however, instead of being similar to any living person I know of, I found the central character to be like a flower, a dandelion flower. That is my first experience of reading this very unique book “The Odd Book of Baby Names” by Anees Salim.
The book is about a dying king, who has had a number of children with women from all walks of life. He doesn’t host all these children into his palace, nor does he give their mothers any child support payment. All he does is that he gives each of these children very distinct and wonderful names, which he then pens down in his diary of baby names. The book however has been narrated in first person individually by 10s of the many children the king had. These children do not know each other and are part of different sections of the society. Each child talks about his/her own life, it’s journey, it’s hardships, it’s struggles, and it’s happiness.
The book is fuelled with light humour, a plot that I found interesting and captivating, dialogues with philosophical touch, and a background of historical fiction. One other noteworthy thing about the book is that although there are more than 10 individual characters explaining their lives distinctly in different chapters, yet their characters have been given a distinct arc, depth, as well as uniqueness.
While one child is a fez maker, another is a poet, one is a lonely girl who thinks her furniture mocks her, there is one who is an alcoholic and says he drinks to stay sober. I was bound to like this book. As I mentioned earlier the king reminds me of a dandelion flower, who parachutes 10s of sons and daughters across the kingdom, some of who land in the fertile lands of the palace, while others land in the harrowing dark lanes swelling with black fever. Yet most survive. You can purchase the book from Amazon.