Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Muddy River by P.A.Krishnan

Title: The Muddy River
Author: P.A. Krishnan
Publisher: Tranquebar
Pages: 248
Genre: Political fiction
Rating: 9 out of 10
Source: Review Copy (from BlogAdda)

In contrast to the unassuming cover page, the book was quite impressive.
‘The Muddy River’ almost seems to be a real story - multi-layered, multi-dimensional and complex (which also reminded me of Shashi Deshpande’s books).

Ramesh Chandran is a Delhi-based bureaucrat, who is transferred to Assam when he starts asking for Contract files of his Corporation (Power Transmission Corporation) and has a few uncomfortable run-ins with senior people in his organisation. It is meant to be a punishment posting. Sukanya is Ramesh’ wife, and they are both trying to come to terms with the untimely death of their only child Priya in a freak incident. They love each other but the incidence has developed a strain in their relationship. (To digress a little, I read somewhere that the death of a child leads to a lot of divorces because husband and wife have different ways of dealing with the loss and many times they are not able to understand the other).

Ramesh is an upright person and while he thinks he is a Marxist, he is also majorly influenced by Gandhi (who keeps coming into the narrative every now and then).

In Assam, Ramesh is chosen to negotiate the release of one of his company’s senior managers, who gets kidnapped by a militant outfit for a ransom. In his pursuit of this case, Ramesh meets Anupama (his subordinate who has strong views about Assam’s fight for independence from the rest of the India), Bhuyan (the Deputy Inspector General who comes to like the sincerity of Ramesh), Bura (a practical Marwari Contrator who is chosen as a contact between the militants and Ramesh), Rajbankshi (the Gandhian) and Mrs Ghosh (the kidnapped Mr Ghosh’s unthankful and untrusting wife). The story dwells on two main issues –the release of Mr Ghosh is certainly the main issue but it also deals with the levels of corruption in a government organisation and the resistance one faces when he tries to take it on. Ramesh goes out of his way, sometimes even putting his life in danger, meeting a number of people who can be of even a little help in ensuring Ghosh’s release. Ramesh’s pursuit of unravelling corruption within his organisation gets him into trouble and he also gets suspended but he never bucks to the pressure.

The language is illustrative. I admit, I had to look up quite a few words, but it is always a pleasure to read such books which enrich your language, while at the same time narrating the story well! English is a beautiful language.

The story moves forward in the form of a main narrative, and the manuscript written by Ramesh for his book, but it never confuses you between the real and the fictional (in terms of the book). Sukanya sends the chapters from Ramesh’s manuscript to their friends Subir and Herbert for their comments. The interaction between Sukanya, Subir and Herbert is interesting and clarifies a few doubts which one may have about the story, as to why the author had written an incident in a certain way.

I was hooked to the story from the beginning and did not lose interest till the end. The book has as much pace as a thriller. It dwells on the corruption and bureaucracy in government organisations, empathizes with the voice of people of Assam and while doing so keeps coming back to the relevance of what Gandhi has said!

It is a well-written book, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in a good story. There are a few technicalities related to workings of Power companies but if you don’t understand them, you can move one, and it is only for a short while. It certainly cannot be a reason to put you off because I can assure that atleast this book is not difficult to read. It is lucid in its narrative.

I just hold back one point for a little rushed and dramatic ending, but it might appeal to many.

I am impressed by the writer’s story telling and I look forward to reading his first book as well. I also could not stop myself from reading about Mr Sanjoy Ghose, to whom this book is dedicated.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

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  1. This sounds like an interesting book for sure. I mean it is offering something different!

  2. Take my word, you would not regret it. It's a page-turner.