After a long time of reading History and Nandy, I’m back into reading Indian Popular Fiction. In some ways they are good because I’ve been doing a lot of my work and reading things that don’t really make my life or mind hard is soothing as it helps me to go to sleep in a better way even though I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with my face in a book. Indian Popular fiction, in my opinion, is considerably different from what academicians might think of Indian Fiction in English. The only problem is the lack of well researched work here. There are some but they are simply not good enough to enthrall us like Clancy or Archer or Baldacci or even Brown. I will include Brown even though his latest book ‘The Lost Symbol’ was a disappointment in spite of being a well-researched book.
Brown has become too predictable. He has somehow brought the famous character Robert Langdon to ‘the guy who gets into shit often and escape unscathed with a woman in the end.’ I think Brown should take some time off and write about something else before bringing the Harvard Symbologist back through a book.
Coming back to Indian Popular Fiction, S.R. suggested two books to me long back, written by this new writer called Krishan Partap Singh; ‘Young Turks’ and ‘The War Ministry’.
The latter is a sequel to the former. S.R. had not told me this and I read the second one first and the first one later. I should not say that killed any fun but it could have been a better experience coming to know the characters in an orderly manner. It is a political thriller set in the background of the ever complex Indian Politics and at the same time follows the friendship of two individuals Azim Khan and Karan Nehru as they travel through the darkest corridors of power and deception. Written with the vigor and energy of a young writer, Singh is a Tom Clancy in making. Moreover, his reading show in his writing and the characterization is strong which makes them seem real to us. Pakistan, China and the U.S features in these novels with adequate spaces as the protagonists move the country forward through one issue after another. Somewhere in there you could see a Jack Ryan type material but it is just a glimpse of a character you have seen or read back in the good old days. If you want to read a fast political thriller, Kishan Partap Singh is what you order.
The other set of books that was pushed on me during the search for Indian Popular Fiction was ‘The Krishna Key’ and ‘The Rozabal Line’ by Ashwin Sanghi.
I remember reading Sanghi’s ‘The Chanakya Chant’ and suggesting it to a friend as a good read. But, his taste for writing seems to have reduced because both these books were a disappointment in terms of content and narration. I understand that he must have been trying to make it less boring or fast paced by adopting a new style of narration but at least for me, it became a bit too repeating and almost bombarded me with facts that would otherwise have nourished the fictitious content in the novel. Both books deal with religion and ancient knowledge hidden for a very long time through history and the protagonists have to go through a great deal of their brain capacity to find what they are looking for. Facts repeat too often in both these novels and the eloquence of the characters is mind-numbing. Most of them speak in unnecessary riddles and almost always the same way, using the same individuality in most disappointing way. If Sanghi cannot separate himself from his characters allowing them to have separate personas, I’m afraid, beautiful ideas that he can make into books will simply become a monotonous chain of fictitious thoughts and a waste of paper. He seems to have good ideas but his books do not show his reading as well as research. Sometimes, the simple way of imparting a particular idea seems to take the form of a boring textbook narrative causing irritation. Brown has done the exact opposite in his book The Lost Symbol; he has just concentrated on showing his research and after a while the characters lose the importance as everyone is trying to be a genius in their respective fields.
P.S:- I better get back to my History reading as that is not boring for me. One good thing about reading history is that not many people would borrow your books as most of my friends seem to have aversion to History. I do not blame them. Very few teachers can make History an interesting subject and I do not thank mine!
- private india (randomhouseindia.wordpress.com)
- An Interview with Ashwin Sanghi – Author of “Krishna Key” (huesofasoul.wordpress.com)
- Chanakya’s Chant / Book Review (iamalienman.wordpress.com)
- New Dan Brown Book Revealed (huffingtonpost.com)
- Independent Reading: Personal History Project (lpahomov.wordpress.com)