Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Club: A Tiger at Twilight and Cyclones

Title: A Tiger at Twilight and Cyclones

Author: Manoj Das

Publishers: Penguin Books India

Pages: 354

The plot, in short:

A Tiger at Twilight begins with the erstwhile Raja of Samargarh’s return to his abandoned palace in Nijanpur after years of self exile. Along with his sick daughter and half-sister, he embarks on a mission to kill a man-eating tiger menacing the town. In this quest, he’s ably assisted by a few of the noted villagers including Dev, the owner and manager of a resort. But as the hunt intensifies, things take a mystical turn as bizarre occurrences force the parties to acknowledge the power of supernatural.

When Kusumpur, a small coastal village is destroyed by the cyclone, life comes to a standstill for the villagers, despite the struggle for independence raging fiercely around them. The son of a zamindar, Sandip helps restore the village. But, as the colonial government plans to fill up the beautiful river running through the otherwise drab village, Sandip and the villagers are strongly against this massive destruction. In the process, Sandip is accused of murdering the contractor of the project which forces him to flee the village and embarks on a journey which takes him to the heart of the turmoil where hatred is widespread and communal violence was rife. Powerful yet poignant, Cyclones are all about the symbolic storms which shook the nation in one of the bloodiest part of history.

Why I love it:

Manoj Das captures the somber ambience of the rustic villages to matchless perfection. Tinged with mysticism, his tales take us to the heart of the country amidst age old folklores and curses handed down across generations. The stories are poignant with a sense of urgency, a sliver of fear and the necessity of walking down stormy lanes. The triumphs are as important as the losses which are an integral part of the circle of life.

In A Tiger in Twilight, Das narrates a tale of suspense as the party tracks the elusive man eater while the school teacher, a member of the expedition, falls irrevocably in love with Heera, the mysterious half sister of the Raja leading to an explosive end with shadows of death tinting life with its pallid brush. Cyclones is a powerful depiction of the turmoil during the Indian independence leaving a trail of destruction. Sandip’s sense of feeling lost after falling in and out of love, watching his town destroyed and the country going up in flames leaves a melancholic effect.

Glitches: ---

Read it for:

The intense narration, powerful portrayal of the rural life, beautiful descriptions of ancient India, the thin lines of family ties and revelations which leave you pensive, all told in a simple yet engaging manner.

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