Sunday, 22 May 2016

Room by Emma Donoghue


This novel of 401 pages is   a page turner. Despite its   very dark   setting , Room comes out as a  life affirming and uplifting  work. It has made full use of imagination and has a powerful language. It is the story of   how love  between a mother and her child is born , nurtured and survives  despite all odds. A   room can be your world, and outside can be as unreal   as a story. After reading this book  , you  begin to look at the world from a different point of view , and that view lingers for a long time.
                 The book is narrated by a five year old boy Jack   who has spent his life so far  locked in one small 11feetx11ft shed,(Room),  along with his mother Ma.He has never set a foot outside. The Room is actually a prison  with Old Nick holding the key. Ma was kidnapped and has been kept in the room  against her will for seven years.She gives birth to Jack in this very room. Jack interestingly does not feel trapped.He is happy in his tiny universe. Room in this way, is both a jail and a haven. Jack’s whole world is Room .Jack thinks that  TV shows things that live on a planet inside the TV. The other  things of   his  world (Room ) are Floor, Bed , Duvet , Wardrobe, Rug ,Wall which have their gender too.                   
                                             To Jack, there is no outside, just “Outer Space,” glimpsed through a sliver of skylight and on TV. Gradually, the reality of the situation filters through: during the day, the boy and his mother practice screaming; in the dark, she flashes a lamp on and off. On certain nights, a man(Old Nick) enters, through a steel door, and the boy hides in the wardrobe, counting the creaks of the bed.   When the boy first sees the sunset: “I watch God’s face falling slow slow, even orangier and the clouds are all colors, then after there’s streaks and dark coming so bit-at-a-time I don’t see it till it’s done.”  
                   For Jack  Outside  is  rain, wind, germs and people touching him ; for Ma it’s relations with her parents, now separated.. There’s a brilliant television interview, too, with Ma skewering the interviewer at every turn. “You breastfed  him. In fact, this may startle some of our viewers, I understand you still do?”We see Ma only in Jack's adoration, but clearly she's an extraordinary woman, setting aside her own anguish to nurture the joy that Jack takes in their little world.  Ma is   trapped in a room with a small child she  loves.  How can she broach the subject of escape without shattering Jack's perfect harmony? And how will Ma ever establish the separation that must take place for Jack to develop into his own person, to comprehend the startling fact that he's not the only other person who exists  for her.  
                   The book was inspired by the true story of Elisabeth Fritzl, an Australian woman who had been imprisoned in her father’s basement  for twenty-four years .During this time , her father repeatedly assaulted  and raped her.She eventually bore him seven children  and had one miscarriage.Three of her children , one daughter and two sons had been imprisoned with their mother for the whole of their lives until rescue.  "I'd say it was triggered by it. The newspaper reports of Felix Fritzl [Elisabeth's son], aged five, emerging into a world he didn't know about, put the idea into my head. That notion of the wide-eyed child emerging into the world like a Martian coming to Earth: it seized me."(Emma Donoghue  in The Guardian).                                                                         
                      "Room" appeals to a larger audience.  Jack expresses a poignant mixture of  wisdom, love and innocence  that will make you ache to save him .In fact what does it mean to save Jack?Is it  delivering him to the outside world or , is it  keeping him preserved  forever?    You need to enter this small, harrowing place prepared only to have your own world expanded.
Room was shortlisted for Booker Prize. I recommend you to read this unsual  but brilliant  novel.