SWFT Wellbeing Reading Group book review of The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur is a New York Times Bestselling author, and has been described as a literary phenomenon. The Sun and Her Flowers is the second of her self published, self illustrated poetry collections. Her collections have sold over 11 million copies, and been translated into over 43 languages. This collection is described as a ‘celebration of love in all its forms’, and takes you on a journey.

One of our readers described the poetry as achingly honest, saying that Rupi captured the grief you feel when a relationship ends, and how you swing between wanting someone back, and despising them – which reminded them of being a teenager and young adult.

While some readers felt shocked by the poetry (and returned copies unread), the rawness of the poetry didn’t seem as though it was done with the intent to disturb, but was just the natural expression of the writer’s state of mind.

Readers generally felt that the title of the anthology was a good choice, as were the subheadings of Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising and Blooming. While the poetry had a story, it didn’t feel as though you had to read it all in one go, and several readers dipped in and out. The poems are generally quite short which people liked, although the lack of punctuation and capital letters was a little irritating. The line drawings which illustrated the poems were very moving and were felt to be integral to the writing, and a special mention was made of the illustration of the poet’s mother in Broken English.

While it felt like the collection started quite depressingly, it became more positive, and the poems showed the writer growing as a person and incorporating her background as an immigrant, the assault she suffered, and making these into an impactful social commentary. The accessibility of the language, and the sometimes unusual descriptions (including one orange trees weeping tangerines) made the work very vivid, as though she was painting with words.

According to The Guardian, Rupi Kaur is the cause of the recent boom with sales of poetry, especially contemporary poems up by 13%. Her poetry is hyped and appears in self affirmations across Instagram, but this is one case where the writing matches the hype.

We will be holding a joint Wellbeing Reading Group for Pride, where both SWFT and GEH will be reading Colm Tóibín’s The Magician, a fictionalised account of the life of the author Thomas Mann.

The Magician opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone. He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children. On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice. He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. He is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers. He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.” (Simon and Schuster summary)

We will be meeting 2nd July at 1pm. Visit either GEH or SWFT for your copy of the Magician, and if you haven’t signed up yet, contact either library for your Teams invitation