Review of Sleeping on Jupiter

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2-2.5 stars

Sleeping on Jupiter follows a series of characters through their week in a temple town in India called Jarmuli. The characters are connected through a tea stand that they all visit during their stay. I enjoyed reading about some of the characters but others were not compelling in the least.

Nomi – she is effectively the main character throughout the text, even though it does alternate around others. I found her story to be the best told and most compelling out of all of them. We follow her through her memories of childhood in the ashram that used to be active but has since been abandoned. Her story was an emotional journey about Nomi wanting to face her childhood demons. I wish the entire book was just about her.

Badal – he was my second favourite character to read about because his story was pretty twisted. He was a religious person with some demons of his own.

The trio of ladies – I thoroughly disliked their storyline. It didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the tone of the book. They provided some comic relief with their antics, but honestly, I didn’t think that worked very well with the rest of the book. Their story got more interesting towards the end but it wasn’t enough for me. I think the book overall would have been a lot better had those 50-60 pages with them been cut out.

Suraj – I hated the story through his perspective. He had some moments that made me think about memory and mistakes we made but for the most part he irritated me. He had some great moments when he was introspective but then it would be followed up with him drooling over Nomi. It was gross and didn’t fit well with the book. Even the writing (which for the most part was good) seemed to get cliche with him when he was lusting after Nomi – as in, comparing her skin to food multiple times.

Over all, I thought it was a well written book with some interesting themes (power of memory, dealing with personal demons, religious hypocrisy, friendship, family and others) but was ultimately disappointed with some of the characters. I thought that the book would have been a lot better without some of the perspectives, or if those perspectives were written to fit in better with the book. It felt disjointed at times, as if the author were writing 2 or 3 novellas instead of one novel.

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5 thoughts on “Review of Sleeping on Jupiter

  1. Good review. I did like it more than you it would have likely been 3-3.5 stars for me. I bumped it up a little because I thought parts were really clever and I liked the writing. I agree about the characters. I was most interested in Nomi’s story which was probably why I felt angry at the end.

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  2. I agree that the writing was quite good. That first chapter was especially haunting and gorgeously written. I really wish the author just followed it through to the end without trying to add a dramatic flair to the ending. She had enough story and it was unnecessary.

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  3. It sounds like she had a great (but fairly simply) storyline that she was inspired by (Nomi’s plot) but decided she ought to write a cleverer book by adding multiple viewpoints.

    Anyway, I haven’t read any of the Booker longlist. The only book from the longlist I’ve seen in Jakarta bookstores is A Little Life and the price was so inflated, it’s pretty much an extortion. I’ll probably just be boring and buy the winner at paperback prices months from now.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying all the Booker longlist reviews I’m seeing on the blogosphere though. 🙂

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    1. Your comment gets it exactly right, in my opinion. She should have simply went with Nomi’s story (except for what she did at the end. Just no.)

      I hope you get to read A Little Life at some point if it doesn’t win the Booker. It is a really beautiful (but sad and depressing) book. It is emotionally manipulative which I normally hate but the author really made it work.

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