491 Questions and Not a Single Answer by Sarjano

Book Reviews

Sarjano’s long awaited book has been published by Bompiani in Italy

SarjanoA unique literary offering from Swatantra Sarjano, Italian-born, long-term Goa resident, spiritual maverick and author of Food is Home (a delightful volume published by Penguin, an homage to India, filled with wonderful recipes and charming personal anecdotes) 491 Questions is his opus major – to date, but who knows what he may have in the pipeline! – and has been twenty years in the writing.

It has been published in Italy by Bompiani with the title ‘Dalla Separazione All’Amore’, and is currently under consideration for publication in India.

Sarjano’s explanation for the book’s title:

It was asked of Jesus “How many times shall one forgive?”

To which Jesus replied “Thou shall forgive seventy times seven. Therefore at the 491st time I’ll get really pissed off and slap you!”

The book consists of a preface and 12 chapters.

Read the sample chapter The Great Division between Old and Young

dalla separazione all'amoreReviews

491 Questions pares down to the core man’s present predicament, his unease, and his enquiry.

Sarjano’s mission is to explain man’s alienation and suggest a recovery strategy: no small literary endeavour, and one which could easily turn didactic and ponderous.

However, despite his passionate commitment to the spiritual safari, Sarjano is also an irreverent joker and his exploration of the profound is interspersed with humorous observations and personal memories, Zen and Sufi stories tossed into the balance.

The central subject of 491 Questions is separation and in the chapter titled ‘The Great Division between Old and Young’ Sarjano addresses the rift between youth and old age: “This is a modern disgrace.  The separation between man and woman is much more ancient, the separation of old from young is a rather recent phenomenon.”

He describes seeing an old man sitting on a park bench, in his isolation looking just a little child sent to sit in the corner as punishment.

He includes several colourful personal stories: treasuring an older woman mentor when he was a child, having older girlfriends when a teenager – in each relationship appreciating and benefitting from their accumulated years of wisdom.

This chapter also includes a description of the 2002 Sufi Festival held in New Delhi which is so evocatively written it stands as a story in itself.

Sarjano finally discusses the subject of drugs. His liberal outlook on this ‘issue’ has apparently rattled conservative editors of certain Goan newspapers for which he is a contributing writer!

Vandana, Osho News

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