Yesterday was ‘Read a Book Day’ in the US. Books are a great escape from the chaos of everyday life, so I thought I’d share a must-read book with you.
Set in an unnamed small town next to an unnamed sea, the novel follows the story of an unnamed boy grappling with the consequences of his unnamed father’s untimely death and its aftermath — The Small Town Sea by Anees Salim.
Salim’s obsession with human mortality is quite apparent in all his novels, and The Small Town Sea is no different. It is narrated in the form of a letter (epistolary) written by the unnamed protagonist to James Unwin, a literary agent. Beautifully capturing the unfiltered thoughts of a teen through his quirky and innocent perspective on the grim reality of death, the novel has the exact amount of dark humour.
“The best part of the sea is where it meets the land. The rest is like those big rolls of flower-patterned curtain cloth: if you have seen a square centimetre, you have seen the whole bundle.”
But, for me, the most important aspect was the sea and how Salim turned it into a character. It punctuates the story by being an ally, a nemesis, and a silent witness to the protagonist’s life.
The Small-Town Sea is vividly detailed and has beautiful nuances. From the nostalgia-inducing escapades of two teenage friends to the melancholia evoking motifs and metaphors around separation, loneliness and helplessness.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It has a rhythm akin to waves that can consume you entirely and a sadness captured so beautifully one wishes to be a character in it.
Well, we all know books are the quietest and most constant of friends, you know what else is – Just One Thing. Go forth and spread the word.