NUMBER OF PAGES: 211
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review copy from the publisher – Readomania as part of the TBC tours in exchange for an honest review. Thanks guys!
In this age where a sizable proportion of the Indian literary world churns out stories which are akin to instant coffee – flavorless and bland, there are few stories which pop once in while and leave an inexpugnable bond. This story was one such story. It’s been a while since I read a good literary fiction like this book. People would probably disagree with me and would prefer to classify this book as a romantic fiction. Wikipedia agrees with me too. The Wiki definition of literary fiction is – “Literary fiction, also known as serious fiction, is a term principally used for fictional works that hold literary merit, that is to say, they are works that offer deliberate social commentary or political criticism, or focus on the individual to explore some part of the human condition.” At the end of this review, I assure to have explained my stand.
A Thousand Unspoken words by Paulami Duttagupta is the tale of a fallen hero, Musafir. He is the brutal voice of the underdogs. He is forced to disappear after his last book wreaks a havoc while stirring souls of people in Kolkatta. Tilottama, Musafir’s ardent fan, comes into his life. An affair brews. The fallen hero sincerely attempts to write again. Is he successful in completing it? or is there a thousand unspoken word which would be lost forever?
The book back summary and my version of the plot above isn’t much to go on at all. However, revealing anything more would simply destroy the experience of the reader. The story isn’t actually much. It’s a simple tale of identity crisis - something that every other person who uses a pseudonym or goes by a different name in public go through. Just that it isn’t overly filled with philosophical explanations to justify the characters pains. This is exactly what makes the book a good literary fiction. The protagonist is on a path of self discovery. The journey is made both difficult and easy by people who love him - Tilottama, his mom and his brother. It’s not just about Musafir, it about the journey of other characters too. Delivering such an emotionally packed story isn’t possible without good narration and characterisation. Each and every character required depth and shades which would eventually contribute to the protagonist’s character. Tilottama’c character would be the perfect example of when one protagonist contributes to the character of the other. Needless to say, the writer has mastered the art of narration and got the characterisation perfectly right. The writing particularly deserves a special mention. Having never been to Kolkatta or Shantiniketan, I was able to picture and feel both the places thanks a perfectly vivid description. Nevertheless, I do have a couple of things that I thought could have been better - First, the climax. Cliffhanger climaxes seem to be the “in” thing these days. A proper closure for such an intense tale would have been way better. Second, idealism and beliefs are two intense topics as such. Mingling them is simply emotionally burdening. Musafir as a writer is a different person - he is selfish and is the person Tilottama expected him to be. This combined with the actual person (as in Musafir’s) idealism (about money etc) was simply too much to handle at one point. Of course, I did love it. It was more of a bittersweet experience for me!
I hope I made my stand as to why this book is a literary fiction. Or if you want a rather simple answer - The story is about a human’s struggle to find his identity. Fits Wiki definition of exploring a human condition doesn’t it.
MY SAY: An emotionally packed read. Not for people who look for instant fiction. If you savor and revere true fiction, this book is for you.
OVERALL RATING: 4.5/5
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