Over the last three decades, Kashmir has been ravaged by insurgency. While reams have been written on it – in human rights documents, academic theses, non-fiction accounts of the turmoil, and government and military reports – the effects of the violence on its inhabitants have rarely been rendered in fiction. Feroz Rather’s The Night of Broken Glass corrects that anomaly. Through a series of interconnected stories, within which the same characters move in and out, the author weaves a tapestry of the horror Kashmir has come to represent. His visceral imagery explores the psychological impact of the turmoil on its natives – Showkat, who is made to wipe off graffiti on the wall of his shop with his tongue; Rosy, a progressive, jeans-wearing ‘upper-caste’ girl who is in love with ‘lower-caste’ Jamshid; Jamshid’s father Gulam, a cobbler by profession who never finds his son’s bullet-riddled body; the ineffectual Nadim ‘Pasture’, who proclaims himself a full-fledged rebel; even the barbaric and tyrannical Major S, who has to contend with his own nightmares. Grappling with a society brutalized by the oppression of the state, and fissured by the tensions of caste and gender, Feroz Rather’s remarkable debut is as much a paean to the beauty of Kashmir and the courage of its people as it is a dirge to a paradise lost.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Thanks to HarperCollinsIndia for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Things I liked:
– The writing style: Feroz Rather’s writing oozes sophistication and beauty. I loved the lyrical quality of the words, and the author’s grip over the language was well established.
– The different styles of narrative: The book is a series of connected short stories, and some stories are in first person narrative, some in third, and one of them reads almost like a love letter. While it’s slightly confusing, I really enjoyed reading these different styles, and thought the author used them all really well.
– The emotions: Writing about emotions is not very easy; it can easily seem forced. But the stories here generate emotions easily. While they rely a little too heavily on incidents, there were many parts where the author uses solely his words to make you feel something, and it’s all very well written.
Things I didn’t like:
– Timeline: It was very hard for me to keep track of the changing timelines. To connect each story, you also need to figure out the time when it is set. Even within the story, there are changes in timeline as the narrator thinks about past incidents.
– Characters: There were some stories where I loved some characters, but there were many where I didn’t really form much of an opinion about them. I think many of the characters could be a little better fleshed out with just a few additional sentences.
The Night of Broken Glass is a short and emotional read with tales that make you think. Definitely worth a read if this is your genre. It was interesting to read a book such as this. While the stories are sort of confusing at first, things more or less fall into place in this fast-paced and evocative read.
~ Sreepurna. ❤