Review: The Other Side of The Table

By Madhumita Mukherjee. Grade: A

When did you last receive a hand written letter?

When did you last write one? Well, I wrote one after reading this book. Actually this is not a book but a treasure trove of lovely moments, every letter packed with something to adore. The letters are about friendship but without being schmaltzy. It would not be right to call this a book because it’s a piece of art – delightfully feisty art, packed with magnificently colorful moments.

The Other Side of The Table

Circa 1990.
A world drawn and woven with words.
A bond punctuated by absence and distance…
Two continents. Two cities. Two people.
And letters. Hundreds of them.
Over years. Across oceans. Between hearts.
Between Abhi, who is training to be a neurosurgeon in London, and Uma, who is just stepping into the world of medicine in Kolkata.
As they ink their emotions onto paper, their lives get chronicled in this subtly nuanced conversation through letters … letters about dreams, desires, heartbreaks, and longings… about a proverbial good life falling apart, about a failed marriage, a visceral loss, and about a dream that threatens social expectations…
Letters that talk. And don’t. Letters about this and that. Letters about everything…
Letters with a story you would never expect.

Before iPads or iPhones or eBooks or emails, there was paper, and there was ink. Taking the time to write a letter was considered something personal, special, and most often worth the wait. Call me old school but for me writing a handwritten letter is beautiful, it requires taking time and putting thought into what you are going to say, exuding warmth and intimacy. Also I like like buying stamps—especially with pictures of dead people.


Yes! Letters and more letters and more more letters, this is what ‘The Other Side of The Table’ is. It tells the story of Abhi, who is training to become a neurosurgeon in London, and Uma, who has just entered medical college in Calcutta. They write letters to one another expanding from the year 1990 to 1999, about their lives and they are so wonderful because you can peek inside the lives of characters with each letter unfolding in time and space. It’s like as if you are talking to the person, watching them having a conversation.


My grandfather never read a novel but he was interesting, enriching and a novel in himself. This book reminds me of him. This is such a singular reading experience that its difficult to decide how I feel about it.  It’s complicated, my relationship with this book. It doesn’t make sense even to me. I am overwhelmed, exhausted even, but completely thrilled to have experienced this gorgeous piece of art. Mukherjee has weaved a rich melange of emotions that break your heart. It is  impossible to detail the number of ways where The Other Side of The Table is awesome.


The author explores this idea of women’s life but never in a weighty, heavy-handed manner. It is a book that celebrates books, and it plays as homage to epistolary classics like “Frances and Bernard” and “86 Charing Cross Road”.  There is this simple truth reflecting in this book that when you read a beautiful book, it duplicates the feeling of being in love. You just need to let this book sit and saturate into you, every part of you because it can, and it will, and you will let it. Buy it now.

This post was written by

Anuj Sharma – who has written 8 posts on Vault of Books ||.
Not Bio but microbio. 20. I Read. I even read the offer document carefully before investing. Generally stupid, occasionally awesome. Occasionally profane; never profound. Likes music, movies, soccer and your girlfriend.


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