The Blurb reads,
“The Stolen Life of a Cheerful Man explores the contentious yet universal themes of intolerance and understanding, discrimination and acceptance, violence and forgiveness. Dimitris Politis plunges boldly into the reality of contemporary Ireland, but from his own Greek perspective, creating an extraordinary mirror between the two countries, where glittering Aegean waves are crowned by Atlantic rainbows. The reader is drawn into the story through its exciting twists and turns, interlinked throughout by a fast cinematographic pace. An excellent contemporary example of black fiction, the novel voices a loud protest against social and historical stereotypes and warns of how intolerance and ignorance can lead to disaster. In today s world, where countless countries are mired in financial crisis and where many forget the importance of tolerance and acceptance of their fellow human beings, the author cleverly reminds us that difference and diversity are universally present, shaping our world. This unique novel prompts us to remember that we are all born different and grow up differently, making each of us special in our own way, whatever our circumstances.“
So then, the book starts off with Dimos, a man from Greece, coming to Ireland, his home, to find someone dead. It is established early on in the book that the main character is gay. And looking at the time at which this book is written, I feel Dimos was justified in feeling what he did about being gay. We only have talks about being homosexual coming out recently.
What follows then is a labyrinth of twists and turns as we deconstruct Dimos’s thoughts over about a decade. We learn about his life and how he finds himself embroiled in terrorist activities. We learn of his adolescence, when he finds love, only to get rejected. And we learn of how he finds love in an unknown corner in Dublin.
The book is long. At 322 pages, it felt a little too long when I read it. But never boring. I felt like a small child, putting together a big jigsaw puzzle. I wanted to finish the jigsaw puzzle soon, but each piece I got in the book were in different corners of the jigsaw. It kept me very interested.
I really kept thinking about a lot of issues when I was reading the book. I never really understood why some part of Ireland was British, and to that extent, I could understand what the terrorists felt when a part of your motherland is divided because of politics.
I felt Dimos’s struggle. Not finding an identity for yourself is harsh. It hurts to not understand who you are and where you are coming from. I feel in these days of instant gratification and instant judgement, it is harsh finding something good about yourself.
This book, in its own way, opened my mind to reading queer fiction. Whenever I read M/M fiction or lesbian fiction, I could never understand the deeper connection that went about. Those books focused on sex, pure and simple. And that part didn’t speak out to me. This book has opened me to the idea. I think that is the way I am, as a person. I keep looking for a connection between the characters. I want to know the emotions behind their decisions.
This book did make me think about life. I mean, we live life with such masks. And to what avail? The world crumbles around us as we speak, or as I type. Things happened in Dimos’s life which drove him to do things which he was not proud of. And he lived his life living with a mask to cover them.
The end, was brilliant. It tied the whole book down, small pieces at a time, closing in the puzzle. I was absolutely shocked by what was written and I so don’t want to give it away. Finally, a book with a great ending!!! Kudos!!
To end this review, I’m going to quote a poem by my best friend, Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha
Identity is not what I promise others
Identity is what I do when I am alone
Identity is what I think of others
Knowing all the hatred they’ve shown
Identity is what every wound reminds me
Identity is what I learn and what I pass by
Identity is what I see in the mirror
After giving my best try
Identity is what I make out of my given chance
Identity is what I accept and what I deny
No one else has control over me
Life is about me, and what I identify
Please give a shoutout to this talented filmmker and writer at email@example.com
MY Review: 4/5