Complexities of the mind: an artful look

Another Heaven by Annu Subramanian is compellingly and artfully written, and it takes the reader into places most of us cannot even conceive of.

By Dr Rudy Nydegger

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Published: Sat 20 Jul 2013, 12:17 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:28 AM

The author has a grasp of the 
complexity and depth of issues related to human trafficking and terrorism, and by having the protagonist be a young scholar in the field was a clever way of getting into some of the technical socio-psychological 
elements of these complex and timely (as well as timeless) issues to be explored.

It is too easy for many people to look at these issues as being completely foreign and alien and that the perpetrators of these horrific crimes are beyond understanding. What the author does that is particularly ingenious is to help the reader understand on one hand how completely different the minds are that conceive of and carry out these awful acts, and yet how basically human they are as well.

These people are not of another species, although we often act and think as though they are; they are human beings who may be flawed and who may have very different world views, but to conceive of them as less than human makes it too easy to dismiss them as mindless “crazies” who are impossible to understand, deal with or stop.

The author reminds us that as 
awful as their acts may be, they are still people who can be understood and dealt with.

The basic message of the novel seems to me to be one of hope. Hope that these terrible actions can be better understood and better dealt with; hope that better understanding and education will lead to fewer of these events in the future; and finally, hope that with better tools and ideas there will be fewer people drawn to these perverse 
and distorted perspectives that are so appealing to those who are the unwitting pawns in games neither 
of their understanding or of their own choosing.

This is a book worth reading and sharing with others.

(Dr Rudy Nydegger is Professor of Psychology and Management, Union College and Union Graduate College, New York)

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