Book Review: Half the Night is Gone by Amitabha Bagchi


(C) Privy Trifles

ISBN 978-9386-2287-03

Genre: Fiction

Publishers: Juggernaut 

Price: Rs. 599/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
Behind the Book

The celebrated Hindi novelist Vishwanath is heartbroken by the recent loss of his son in an accident. The tragedy spurs him to write a novel set in the household of Lala Motichand. It follows the lives of the wealthy lala and his three sons: Self-confident Dinanath, the true heir to Motichand’s mercantile temperament, lonely Diwanchand, uninterested in business and steeped in poetry; and illegitimate Makhan Lal, a Marx-loving schoolteacher kept to the periphery of his father’s life.

In an illuminating act of self-reflection, Vishwanath, the son of a cook for a rich sethji, also tells the story of the lala’s personal servant, Mange Ram and his son, Parsadi. Fatherhood, brotherhood and childhood, love, loyalty and poetry all come to the fore as sons and servants await the lala’s death. By writing about mortality and family, Vishwanath confronts the wreckage of his own life while seeking to make sense of the new India that came into being after independence.

Spellbinding and penetrating, Half the Night Is Gone raises questions of religion, literature and society that speak to our fractured times.

About the Author

Amitabha Bagchi was born in Delhi and went to school there. The last few years of school was a blur of exams - Junior Science Talent Search, National Talent Search, Annual Maths and Physics Olympiads - and coaching classes to prepare for those exams. He finally found himself at IIT Delhi in the summer of 1992 thinking that the worst was over. It wasn't.

Belying the expectations raised by his uninspriring performance at IIT, Amitabha got his PhD in Computer Science in 2002. Then, after loitering around for a couple of years with the nebulous designation of post-doc, he returned to IIT Delhi where he is currently employed as an assistant professor..

Rarely do you come across a book that leaves you with a feeling of being complete. Half the Night is Gone by Amitabha Bagchi is one such book, a soul-stirring, poignant and lyrical this one stays with you. The last time, I read a book like this was The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee.

With a breath-taking cover, which has its own story to share and an equally intriguing blurb, this book begins on a promising note and doesn't disappoint you at all. The beauty of this masterpiece is the way the author has gelled multiple stories together and given a complete picture for a reader to bask in. Everything, starting from the characters to the descriptions to the narrative is so well woven that you cannot help but simply admire it's ethereal beauty.

With an immensely powerful story line, engaging narration and engrossing plot, this book is a masterpiece. Amongst the plethora of characters , if there is one that stayed with me the longest, making a deep impression, then it has to be Ramadas.

Connecting one dot to another, texturing it with myriad emotions and layering them with the complexity of human relationships, the author has done a stellar job is narrating the story of Vishwanath. The ending, simply broke my heart. For I didn't want it to end. I wanted the story to never end,  I wanted more of it, wanted to know what happened next. The Epilogue left me mystified. It also helped me calm my fraying nerves which, till then, were throbbing with excitement and anticipation of what will come up next. It is painful, heart-wrenching, touching, moving and a lot of other emotions mixed into one.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. But I would also add - please be patient with this book. It will not open up instantly to you, allowing you to hear all its secrets. It is like a treasure trove, which needs to be carefully dissected and every piece admired before putting it away, only to pick up the next.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Makhana Kheer - one that satiates your hunger, not only of stomach but the one that comes from the heart and soul.

Source: Milkmaid


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