So, I read this novel long back but didn’t write a review or opinion back then. I needed some time and few re-reads. Whenever a piece of work moves me, be it a short story, novel or a cinema, I don’t immediately express my opinion about it. I want to see if the feeling would fade off over a period of time. I would wait for few days to see if the life’s happenings and teaching will make me look at the book in a different light. Very few books and movies go into that category.
In the light of darkness is a novel written by Radhika Tabrez published by Readomania. For this novel, Radhika won Winner of Muse India – Satish Verma Young Writer Awards 2016. Set on a fictional island which didn’t look very fictional to me, the story is about a bunch of kind hearted but wounded souls who come together supporting each other. In their capacity to love and care for each other unconditionally, they are even able to mend another broken soul.
Last year, in most of the reading groups I was in “A man called Ove” was a big big hit for its characterization. Somehow I feel Indian authors are not very fortunate. Or almost all the reading groups would be discussing the characters of this novel. Susan Periera, a warm old lady who runs a bookshop who has a dark past which she repents each day, Meera who is the companion of Susan in her bookshop and home who has a past which had left her bruised and shaken, Matthew who hates his mother Susan for so long that he had forgotten why he hates her at all. Such endearing characters come together and create a life in those words strung by Radhika.
No character acts out of character. Radhika sets up everything nicely and we almost sit beside Susan while she sips her tea in her favorite spot, Almost hug Meera when she struggles to take a decision because of her past and sit in the living room of Maanav while Vidushi scolds Matthew for his shortcomings. No character outs out of their skin and there is no need to be. Once the characters are defined and then when a conflict is thrown between them, we root for almost everybody at the same time which makes us that we are feeling the conflict. Even though when the mind tells us, if we read few pages we will know how these guys are going to resolve it, we wouldn’t help but stop reading for a while and think about possible resolutions irrespective of what the characters have in mind.
Bydore is said to be a fictional island. I loved the way how Radhika didn’t tell so much but made me feel the grains of the marina and smell the fresh scent of books at the bookstore. I wish I could learn from her about creating a setting which is actually a background but also a character in the novel. Almost at the end of the novel, you will not be able to say if Bydore has such warm people or people are warm because they are in Bydore.
So are there no issues with the novel? Is it a perfect novel? No. But that is the beauty of it. Like the characters in the novel, there are some misgivings but again like the characters, the novel is lovable as the whole. To me, few characters introduced in the second part of the book were rushed and so was the ending.
Overall a wonderful read. You can buy the book here. I am waiting to read more of Radhika Tabrez