Author : Pratik Shah
Publisher : Distinct Books
Genre : Thriller
Summary : In a daring midnight operation by armed men, over 10,000 pilgrims are taken hostage en route to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi, a popular Himalayan religious-tourist destination in the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir in Northern India. The hostage-takers threaten to shoot pilgrims every day, unless the incumbent Government accedes to their demands.
With the largest Hindu festival of Diwali just around the corner and elections less than six months away, the Government at the center is under immense pressure to act. What will the Government do? The army? The intelligence agencies? The common man?
No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Who are these men? Is there a larger plot? Faced with such unprecedented events, will the country descend into unimaginable anarchy or will it rise above the issues of collective apathy and greed that have plagued it since Independence?
Thoughts : A little gem of a book that seems to have been ignored by people simply because the characters seem to be quite obvious. Atleast that is the reason i can think of. Why else would this not have been snatched up by some large publishing house.
This book follows a few characters, political big shots, struggling poor people and the middle class who bear the brunt of both sides. And it follows Tanhaa, Hussain, Vijay etc while they struggle through the corruption that is India. The story is about how some of these people manage to launch a brilliant operation that bewilders the authorities and blindsides the citizens.
The book flows in a steady manner, picking up pace after a few pages and keeping that pace almost till the end. In the end when the author lists a bunch of things that have happened after this attack, the writing gets a little tedious and slow, like reading a boring newspaper article but apart from that the book is pretty great. It’s like reading the Homeland script or something, pretty well done for a debut author I must say.
I do have one problem with this. The author has some seriously strong female leads,medics isngreat. But throughout the “operation” the women are equally with children. “The other pilgrims helped the women and children.” Honestly that’s a little insulting. I know enough women who are perfectly equal if not superior to their male counterparts when it comes to handling themselves on rough terrain. I dislike it when authors generalise with genders. And certainly when equate women with children.
My comments for the author/publisher, please for god’s sake next time print it in a larger book. I felt like i was reading from something resembling the little book of calm. And the fonts, please choose a better font and a darker colour. If i had seen this book size in a store I would have skipped it, why on earth would i choose to strain my eyes when i can just as well avoid straining my eyes.
Pick this up if you’re looking for a nice, evenly paced thrilled about India and it’s sentiments.