Book Review: Bombay Hangovers

Bombay Hangovers

Book: Bombay Hangovers

Author: Rochelle Potkar

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories, Indian writing in English

Warning: Explicit content

Available at:

Review Copy: Himalayan Book Club

Our world is made up of stories and most have already been told. It takes an exemplary storyteller to bring life to the mundane and the inconspicuous. Unabashed rendering of exotic yearnings, sensitive descriptions of romantic longings, intense emotions of despair, the gravity of age, trappings of secrets, and a gamut of vast emotions, and scenes flow through the pages of Bombay Hangovers by Rochelle Potkar. The book title is reminiscent of a city, clinging to a past, delving in intoxicating memories of humans, with all their flaws and follies, oft succumbing to the power play of destiny.

Exotic words describe marital bonds from early years of lustful romance to the complacency and frustrations of tired householders. The fragility of the aged, raciness of the illicit, achiness of nostalgia and aging bones, the darkness of lust, tender cares of motherhood, the inevitability of fading youth, travails of escapism, and troubled demons of haunted pasts – each story is woven to create an elaborate tapestry. This is not a leisurely read because it digs into the crevices of fears and passions, dreads and desires, showing us a mirror, bringing to life a society that we chose to ignore, to let pass by us. Yet, it pulls you in, word-by-word, page-by-page as it rips away the facade and unmasks the raw truth pulsating in the heart of Mumbai.

The stories delve into different social classes in the city of Mumbai, as it is now known. Metaphors and analogies embellish the book, revealing research and understanding of the nuances of geometrical terms, workings of a cotton mill, the Goan real-estate, the dhobhi ghat, the underbelly of city life, just to name a few. Details are rendered with care, without haste, each word conjuring imagery, sometimes leaving you embarrassed, mostly engrossed. The no-holds-barred flourish of a bold pen takes you on a breathtaking journey into the lives of ordinary men and women.

A few typos are glaring, a sudden shift in the person of narration is disconcerting, and you wish these were not there. Amidst all the beauty of the words, I felt the writing could have been tauter in some stories. Some descriptions could be less superfluous, allowing the reader to savor the exquisite composition and leave some space for musings. The comparatively shorter stories are my favorite in this collection of 16, as they are the most impactful. The introduction is exquisitely written though it contains insights into stories so you may want to read it after diving into the book. 

Published by Aneesha Shewani

I am just ME … a soul streaming across constellations, over eons of turbulent changes and tranquil noises, perturbed by the visions that engulf me and ruffled by the oft complacence that challenges the change. Yet, I must travel further across the galaxies, in search of the ultimate metamorphosis. Until then, I sojourn in this life, engrossed in my earthly callings of a wife, mother, professional, writer, dreamer, and seeker. On this blog you will find a spectrum of fiction, poetry, reviews, thoughts, snippets, inspiration, experiences, voices, concerns, excerpts, and everything that the soul has gathered in her fold, over years of reading, searching, finding, losing, and discovering. I regularly indulge in various creative pursuits, like crochet, experimental cooking, reading, and writing, and I hold a managerial/editorial role in a financial services organization with a global footprint. For a long time, social media hijacked my personal writing space, as I was sharing more on Facebook and writing Tweet-sized poetry on Twitter. Social media is instant but temporary gratification. Ultimately, a writer needs their own space, and personal blogging provides that space. I had started a blog more than a decade ago but all things need to be infused with new life, emerge in a new avatar, and so it is with my new blog space. Let your love and encouragement pour into Blue Pen Strokes. Check out Aneesha Shewani (@tweetoeuvre): 

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