I finished “The City of Devi” by Manil Suri a couple of weeks back (or may be more). I had just read an excerpt from the book before I decided to read it and it turned out to be a good ‘different’ read.
I have not read Manil Suri earlier but “The City of Devi” gives a good idea of the writer’s caliber. It’s ‘fiction fantastic’ and you will hardly find such fiction by Indian authors or set up in Indian backdrop (and what better city in India then Mumbai for this).
The book starts at a point where a war is being fought between the arch rivals India and Pakistan and which has come to the brink of escalating in a nuclear stand-off. And the city that is targeted is Mumbai. And in the middle of this mayhem Sarita is trying to find her husband Karun. The attack from Pakistan has turned Hindu-Muslims against each other and there are riots in all parts of Mumbai.
Also there is a great angle of people’s faith, in that the city is protected by “Devi” and can not be destroyed even by a Nuclear bomb. Sarita’s search for Karun takes her through many ups and downs, she meets Jaz on the way who is also interested in finding Karun for her own reasons.
The way Suri has brought out love between Sarita and Karun and between Jaz and Karun is remarkable. I have never read such a good handling of a love triangle. The story goes on as to how Jaz and Karun met and fell in love and later breakup which leads Karun to Sarita. But all this while Karun is unable to forget Jaz.
Sarita and Jaz gets caught up in the Devi show and tries to get information about Karun who has been taken up by the devotees of the Devi.
The character of Jaz as a homosexual who always looks for fun and adventure but lands up in love with Karun is very well written. There are romantic novels which might not even be able to describe such love between a man and a woman.
In one passage Karun explains Sarita that the Hindu Trinity is actually comprised of Shiva, Vishnu and “Devi” and that the trinity is often misunderstood. This explanation of Trinity has a very deeper meaning in the book which Sarita realizes at a later stage.
The scene that is described by Suri when the war breaks out, of people turning to Devi and killing each other, selling everything, etc. is so good that you can actually visualize it.
And there is so much more to the book and every time I try to write about one thing, another one flashes in mind even after 2 weeks.
All in all a very good work of fiction and I am more than satisfied. A must read.
PS: Thanks to MySmartPrice for sponsoring this wonderful book.