There are only a few literary work in MRM that I like. People call me snobbish but that’s what I am. I have hardly seen any great literary work for MRM and I have been complaining about the poor storytelling capabilities of MRAs from the beginning (that included me to some extent). Some women MRAs might be good in storytelling, but MRAs in general lack that ability. And here I find a book that has not only created a wow experience but I should say, I am ecstatic after reading this literary marvel.
Even though the author has used a pseudonym Simon, I can understand that he is a Bengali guy who might have lived in different states. I greatly appreciate his storytelling capacity. In last ten years I have reviewed several dozens of books, many written for men’s rights but never found such a riveting and engaging story. The Bitter Half was never boring, it was always thrilling, and it was very much learning.
The Bitter Half by Simon is the story of Sumit Ghosh, his short married life and more elaborate story of handling false matrimonial cases. Readers who do not understand the legal terms or are not aware of Indian family laws or our legal system, found it overwhelming to grasp so much information. As we find from online reviews, women rated this book lower simply because they didn’t understand the legal concepts even though they said that the book was written very well. I felt some of those women rated this book lower because it was anti-feminist or exposed the feminist legal system.
Where The Bitter Half by Simon excels is in its unique storytelling style and impeccable choice of words. I must confess that the writer has very good hold over the English language and his choice of words were very appropriate. Moreover, the description of different circumstances and psychological conditions are so apt that the readers feel themselves in those situations, they feel the dilemma the protagonists, they feel the pain of Sumit, they feel the suffering of his family.
As a Bengali myself who has experience of handling such legal cases spanning across different states, I could relate to many situations narrated in the book. Since the storyline involved multiple states and multiple characters, it felt complex for some online reviewers; but I must say that all of that was very necessary for the story and was complementary to the story. General Indians don’t understand the complexities involved in such matrimonial cases and what the grooms’ families undergo. The Bitter Half was successful in communicating that message. The psychological warfare a husband’s family has to undergo in such cases is immense and is often unbearable. There is a reason why we see even policemen and army personnel commit suicide due to such domestic issues.
As I have always said, men’s provider and protector role is mostly responsible for their increasing suicide rate due to domestic issues. When the woman they are supposed to protect turn hostile against the protector, the protector doesn’t know what should be done. He loses his identity and also a reason to live. But that is a very simple explanation of the problem. What goes inside the minds of the men and their well-wishers is something we could never explain to the world. Until now, this remained an enigma to many.
I consider this is a failure of us, the MRAs. We have failed to bring all aspects to light until now and Simon has done it very well in his book The Bitter Half. Even though many have asked me in different times to write books on men’s rights, I have refrained from that stating no one reads books nowadays. Today I see a book written so well, that no one would refrain from buying this book and reading it.
If I say, this book has saddened me or made me depressed because of Sumit’s sufferings, that will be wrong. This book actually made me ecstatic. I could read a literary marvel created for men’s rights. The kind of cruelty expressed in The Bitter Half, is normal and through the thousands of cases I have seen in my activist life, this is almost everyone’s story. At this juncture I must talk about the struggle of Arnesh Kumar of Bihar. He had to travel frequently to Bihar from Bangalore to fight his cases. In the end, he was successful in giving MRM a favorable judgment from the Supreme Court of India that changed the entire paradigm in 498a cases. If Arnesh is reading this review, I would request him not only to read The Bitter Half by Simon, but also to write his experience as well. I can help him in his journey.
The reason I appreciate the efforts of Simon more is because despite being a writer for the men’s rights for so many years, I myself could not write a book on my own divorce story. I am not sure why Simon had to use a pseudonym to write this novel which is presented only as a fiction based on true events. The book never said it was his personal story but the way he expressed it, the way he has engaged his readers in this book and the way he described the psychological battle of the families, makes me think that it is his personal story.
The Bitter Half is the story of Sumit and Moulina. It is the story of their romance, their dreams and their hate. The Bitter Half is also the story of helplessness of Sumit’s family members and criminal conspiracy by Moulina’s family. It also shows how police blackmails the husband’s family and how the corrupt legal system takes benefit of the situation. All these are not easy to understand and these are not easy to express as well. Even tenured MRAs are likely to fail but Simon didn’t.
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One thing I appreciate about Simon’s work is that he didn’t make this novel a dry one. Legal topics can often be very dry and boring. The Bitter Half with components of love, romance, hate, conspiracy, double crossing and hardcore crime like murder and abduction is a perfect material for a Bollywood movie or a crime series. I would recommend him to translate this book in different languages so that this work reaches maximum people. I will not be surprised that if it really becomes a movie or a crime series or both. I can only congratulate Simon in advance and as I understand from the ending of the book, wait for the sequel of this book to get published. I am sure that will be even more engaging and thrilling to read.