Book Review: Shamsuddin’s Grave by Paromita Goswami
Book: Shamsuddin’s Grave
Author: Paromita Goswami
Plot: Latika’s wrecked personal front leaves her completely shattered. So when her ailing father reveals his desire to go back home, she doesn’t think twice and moves to her hometown. She joins an NGO and comes across a teenager rape victim. Much against her TL, Debjyoti’s wish she sets out to trace the girl with Shamsuddin’s help. Will she succeed or end up in big trouble?
Shamsuddin, a daily labourer, somehow manages to thrive in the city. Meanwhile, flood devastates his house in the village. His family takes refuge in a relative’s place where his wife has a tough time resisting to the advances of her brother-in-law. Can Shamsuddin arrange for an accommodation before it is too late? Set in Guwahati amid the backdrop of flood and ethnic turmoil, “Shamsuddin’s Grave”, is the story of migration towards big cities for a better life. (official synopsis)
Apt for Social Awareness
A huge thanks to the author for contacting me and providing me with a copy of her book to read and review
Frankly i am in a dilemma as to what to say about this book. One one end it has every ingredients in its appropriate portions and measures and is able to put together a well assimilated book but on the other hand it fails to create a spark if you are going to treat is as a work of fiction.
I am finding it hard to see the book as a work of fiction because the theme, the things said and discussed even under the garb of a story is too hard to miss. The book shines as a social awareness book rather than fiction because it puts together the facts and scenarios so bluntly and sharply that you can’t stop from being moved by its sheer intensity.
It can be more of a creative documentary
so i think i am going to review this book in two parts as a social awareness book and as a fiction
Lets see the book as a social awareness book:
Let me start by saying that i feel ashamed that being a fellow Indian i was never aware of the plights of the millions residing in the rural areas of Assam and the kind of ordeals they have to go through in terms of natural, economical and social injustice. The book was truly an eye opener for me and showed me a face that i would not have seen sitting inside the comfort of my home. So in that regards i am highly impressed by the book because it makes us to be at least virtually present in these hollow areas with no soul, only physical bodies that are grating themselves daily to earn a meager wages.
So as a social awareness book, the author paints all the vivid pictures of the sufferings of these people who have no land for themselves and even after years of partition still finds themselves as refugees and wandering without an identity or recognition in this country. The book also shows you the kind of mentality these people suffer from and what it takes for NGOs in these countries to even gain access to these volatile plains.
The book can be picked up by any body who wants to see “The real face of Assam”. to see and experience what it is to be a person without land or a nation to his credit. The very last chapter even turned out to be a great satire for our urban society.
Now the book as a work of fiction :
This is where the author is probably going to kill me. On one end i am strongly moved by the messages the book aimed at and the book clearly do speaks volume about the theme but when it comes to the tool it used, that being the fiction, it fails to charm. The author has used the story of Shamsuddin to draw us a picture of many muslims that took shelter in Assam and nearby areas during the formation of Bangladesh and still is considered as a refugee and outsider in this country,denied even citizenship or basic human rights.
The narration is where i guess it fails to ignite properly as it is very monotone in its treatment. There is a “one-tone” mode for the whole book. The theme is dark so yes you can expect a melancholic air for the book. I noticed in two or three instances, the descriptions went too detailed without actual purpose.Technically, the book has everything… Good language, fair enough story- telling and a strong content but its that extra spice that is missing .. but i know it is not fair to the author to judge her work that is meant for awareness based on how spicy i like my dish as the book is a reflection of the real world and the real life and pain is not something to glamorize for the sake of your readers…. now you see my dilemma in reviewing the book ?
While the title is Shamsuddin’s Grave, the book is a lot more than that. Shamsuddin who is supposed to be the central character (from the look of the title) is sort of a recurring character as there are so many other stories and personal turmoils running in the background be it the character of Latika, Snehalatha , Debjyoti or even siddharth. so yeah i am finding it hard to absorb the aptness of the title… but to be honest not a big issue enough to crib around.
As a work of fiction it may not be that impressive but as a product intended to make people aware of the plight and situations in rural Assam, especially the sections of population that is still treated as a refugee and non-Indian, It is achieving the desired result.
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