Book Review: He Knew a Firefly by Smita Bhattacharya
I’m a long-time fan of novels that are set in other cultures, so I was thrilled to be offered this title to review. In a similar vein as The Kite Runner and The Rose Hotel, this book instantly has the power to put you in the setting and the culture without having to provide endless backstory in order to hold your hand through it. For example, the author did a masterful job interjecting “foreign” words and phrases in her dialogue, but did not need to translate those terms for the reader; the tone of the conversation told us all we needed to know in order to understand.
While the plot itself is intriguing, what struck me was the universal application of it. This book didn’t have to take place throughout India or Paris, it could have just as easily spoken to a vast audience of readers no matter where and when it was set. The fact that the author brings her readers to these locales is simply another layer of enjoyment to the reading process.
But the most important part of this novel is the absolutely exquisite writing. It is equal parts joy and heartbreak, and at time it is even bone-chilling, but all throughout the book the writing wraps you in such a familiar sense of understanding. The most horrific details are written with such finesse that you are in the scene but still somehow safely encased in the author’s words.
As someone who reads and reviews as many books as I do, it’s easy to think you know how it will end, but that’s also not the case.
Fans of stories that take them outside their own world views and outside their ability to suspend belief will treasure this one. Check out He Knew a Firefly HERE.