It is a book that does not fear from delving deep into the cloudy and dark edges of not only politics but also relationships

Posted: June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 K Ananthakrishnan talks about how “The Edge of Desire” has managed to deliver that it is not only a fictionally an interesting read but also serves as an account that serves as a testimony that represents the state of present day women.

The evolution of womanhood has been, to say the least, tumultuous. Many accounts deal with this subject – The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir, The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer are the ones that spring to mind. From mythological times to contemporary society, from the times when women were deified as gods to times when they were treated as slaves, from times when they played a sacred role in society to times when the ascendancy of patrimony left them clinging to the lower rung of society, women have always had to battle to assert their equanimity. The dedication in Tuhin Sinha’s The Edge of Desire –  ” to every woman who has been a victim of gender crimes in this country that deifies umpteen goddesses ” – makes it abundantly clear as to the leaning of this book.

The Edge of Desire

 A quick summary of the plot – Shruti Ranjan is a journalist in Delhi, leading the typical modernist life, a 5 year long live-in relationship with her boyfriend Abhay. Abhay then does the quintessential male thing – he gets caught in bed with Shruti’s best friend. Shaken and stirred, Shruti leaves Delhi to live with her parents. Excessive pressure from her parents to get married sees Shruti eventually succumb and get wedded to Rohit, the Deputy Commissioner of Kishanganj, Bihar. The marriage is a little strained at first but the couple slowly find their feet and things seem to be settling down with Shruti getting pregnant when life goes downhill when she is brutally raped. The rapist being politically sheltered, Shruti’s valiant attempts at justice is all in vain leaving her totally disillusioned and desultory. It is in this state of despair that Shruti is given a chance to avenge the crime – she is offered a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections, the deal brokered by the charismatic Sharad Malviya, the Opposition leader. What started out as a ploy to extract revenge ends up with Shruti being plummeted deep into the dark world of politics – new relationships form while old ones strain further, conspiracies abound and it all culminates into a decent climax.

Enough said about the story this book does have its strengths. For starters, Tuhin’s writing style is impressive. Terse and succinct, the language employed here is simple and to the point making way for a fast paced narrative – this one is to be devoured in one straight sitting. The characters etched are strong and quite believable – they play out well enough for the author to evoke a love-hate relationship between some of its characters and the reader, a point in favour of Tuhin. The relationship between Shruti and Rohit is etched well – the initial misgivings of marriage slowly steadying into an understanding that is then ripped apart by the rape. Things go more astray when Shruti’s path to justice takes her further and further away from her marriage right up to the point of no return. The rich backdrop of politics is also well used – multi faceted personalities each with their own axe to grind, multiple players conspiring against one another and all of this to be faced by Shruti, a novice in this murky world. The politics scene and issues being portrayed in the story is in fact a reflection of the contemporary India – issues that are relevant and prevalent today form the sub plots that help our tyro politician further her career. Peppered here and there in the novel are refreshing ruminations involving history and mythology – a nice touch that adds a certain authenticity to the turmoil being envisaged and presented.

Something that was always at the back of my mind while reading was that the voice of the protagonist is female (in the book) though it is being voiced by a male author. Is it ironical that a book with such a strong feminist inclination is actually penned by a male – I don’t think that does have any bearing really but it is of a nice note. The journey that is The Edge of Desire is not without its share of falls albeit minute – the meteoric rise of Shruti’s political career almost makes this a fantasy story, sometimes the plot unravels like a cliched Bollywood drama (is it possible to mean this in a good way ??!!, I think not!!) but the one that was primarily stuck in my head was Shruti herself. The portrayal sometimes was quite contradictory – at times she comes across as the strong, feminine character that she is supposed to be, intrepid and inspiring but at other times she is left so wallowing in self-doubt that it is pretty difficult to relate the two to one single character. Mind you these are typical ‘reviewer bellyaches’ – they do not detract you from the riveting plot that this book is.

In Edge of Desire, author Tuhin Sinha has managed to deliver a book that is not only fictionally an interesting read but also serves as an account that serves as a testimony that represents the state of present day women. It is a book that does not fear from delving deep into the cloudy and dark edges of not only politics but also relationships that are contained therein. A certainly deserving read, the Edge of Desire does leave a strong after taste in the reader – now that smacks of a well crafted novel.

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