10 October, 2016

#BookReview :: A Broken Man by Akash Verma

Take a deep breath before you are born here, my child! 

You take birth in a land where I struggled; gave it my sweat and blood. A land that I thought belonged to me..… unbridled, uncompromising. 

Krishna is a Dalit boy from Bihar who struggles to overthrow the chains that hold him back. Chhavi is a high caste Brahman girl fighting for the rights of others, propagating equality in a politically charged Lucknow University campus. After Krishna saves Chhavi from getting torched during a protest against reservation, love slowly blossoms, only to be ruthlessly crushed by a society that thrives on divisions of caste and religion. From student politics in Lucknow to the interiors of Bihar, from the corridors of power to the glitz of media and the film industry in Mumbai. 

A Broken Man is the quest of a deprived Krishna to redeem hope from despair, love from separation and success out of repeated failures. From the bestselling author of It Happened That Night and Three Times Loser, this is a story that reinforces our faith in what love can accomplish as it pushes us to achieve the impossible, making us tap our true inner potential.

First off, the blurb of the book just doesn’t do it justice. From the blurb I pegged this book as just another romance story, which it is – at a certain level, but this book also has other things to offer.

Krishna and Chhavi are born on the opposite end of the societal strata. They should be worlds apart in everything… from their lifestyle to their interests and their aspirations. Yet they have a common thread – they both fight the caste system that is still prevalent in our twenty-first century society. They each fight their own battles for their beliefs. When Chhavi is attacked, it is Krishna who comes to the rescue. Moments of fear and gratitude soon lead to something else between the two but their difficulties are not over. There’s still the matter of the person who tried to kill Chhavi and then there is the matter of her parents. What does the couple do? Stand and fight or give in to the pressures?

I would like to point out what I did not like about this book since it is a short list. First, was the romance! (don’t roll your eyes…) It is not that I did not like the romantic angle at all, but it is just that I felt that the treatment it got slowed the pace of the book, especially in the middle. Second thing that I did not like were the Hindi verses that were included in the book, written in Devanagari script.  In any case I do not like it when two or more languages are included to write a book. It is distracting to a degree. And to actually include it in a completely different script is another issue. I can read Devanagiri script but not everyone does. Someone who doesn’t know it might feel cheated as they might have picked this book up purely because they thought this to be an IWE work.

What I did like about the book were the characters. Both Krishna and Chhavi made marks on their own rights. Their strengths and weaknesses is what them endearing and into characters that you could get behind. The author’s language and narrative (barring the Hindi Verses) was simple yet entertaining. But what I loved the most was the fact that the author addressed multiple underlying issues of our society. Romance was not the only focus of the book. Whether it is the caste system or politics in educational institutions, the author dealt with them appropriately.

Overall this book is certainly a step ahead of what IWE is mostly churning out these days and I would recommend it to anyone who is open to reading an IWE with some Hindi in it and wants more than just romance.

Review Copy received from Srishti Publishers

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