Book Name: Anon.
Author: Bhavani Iyer
Book Blurb: Welcome to Calcutta of the sixties and the seventies. Meet Debottam, the genius vagabond son of a wealthy zamindar. Meet Urbish, the ambitious dreamer whose father is a fisherman. Walk with them through the red earth of Shantiniketan. Visit the jazz clubs of Park Street. Experience friendship redefined by two people who have only one thing in common writing. But one is willing to kill to write and the other is willing to die. Anon. Short for Anonymous. After all what’s in a name?
Review: Bhavani Iyer rises to the occasion and produces gem of a novel. The story is told through the eyes of two main protagonists, Deb and Urbish. The plot is simple and not over the top. The title Anon. is just perfect because you can substitute Deb and Urbish for any other characters and the story will still hold.
“He wanted to show Deb how much it hurt to know that his best wasn’t good enough.”
The author has managed to capture the Bengali culture and setting in an apt manner. Colloquial Bangla words have been used quite liberally (a glossary would have helped but is not provided) like confetti and add to the prose. She manages to put an entire culture and its social heritage between the pages of this little book.
I was often told during my formative years when I was still struggling that a good book should read like a film- if that criterion holds good then Anon. is a masterpiece. It opens with the two protagonists quite young, takes us through their formative years in school at Shantiniketan and has enough plot and intrigue to hold the interest of any reader.
The writer’s language skills are exceptional and the interplay with words shows a deep understanding and love for literature. Literary references abound and there is something for everything in this neat little book. Its astonishing that the author has managed to convey so much in so few pages.
The class difference is quite evident but its a beautiful tale about friendship and relationships that we often take for granted.
There’s longing, love, friendship, sacrifice and the book finishes even as the story comes full circle providing a satisfactory end. What more can a reader ask for?