Book Review: Black River

Author: Nilanjana S Roy

This has been the best book I have read this year—a sheer piece of literary brilliance.

In a fictitious sleepy village called Teetarpur lives a humble farmer Chand whose sole reason for survival is his little daughter Munia. However, everything is shattered when Munia is found hanging from the jamun tree. Chand’s world collapses around him even as the author delves into his past in Delhi on the banks of the Yamuna where he lived his past as a squatter.

Parallely, Sub-Inspector Onbir Singh from the lone police thana takes it upon himself to solve the heinous crime despite the numerous setbacks. A local wanderer who belongs to another community (religion ) is blamed for the murder of the little girl.

The author beautifully weaves the plots which appear totally different from each other but the reader is provided a literary treat as she joins the dots and brings the story to a climax. The issues of the case and religious divide seen even today are brought out sensitively. The tough lives of squatters and the poorest of the poor amidst the backdrop of political circus in the garb of religion are brought out superbly by the author.

The reader is taken through a roller coaster of emotions where the lives of the lower socio-economic starts individuals seem to hold barely any value. The gutwrenching reality of the situation in the lesser-known pockets of the country has been vividly put forth. Despite politics of religion threatening to play havoc and destroy their lives, two of Chand’s friends for years, Badshah Miyan and Rabia, stand by him through his sorrow. The book is fast-paced and through police procedurals, it’s a relentless quest for ‘justice’

This book is literary fiction at its best and a treat for literature lovers!

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