Monday, September 19, 2016

#414 : The Sentimental Terrorist: A Novel of Afghanistan by Rajesh Talwar :Review

When I read this writer’s other book – An Afghan Winter, I realized there was much to Afghanistan and the people that had been left out there. Of course, that story didn’t really have the scope for things like culture to be woven in. This book seemed to be the fitting reply to my wish.

The story revolves around three people and their lives – a social worker turned Jihadi – Mohsin Khan, British consultant – James Stewart and his love interest, Amala, the Bangladeshi aid worker. Mohsin’s family is wiped out in an air strike carried out by the Americans based on wrong information by a newly recruited civilian pilot with very less military experience. To avenge their death, Mohsin reluctantly joins hands with the Taliban. Through the Taliban, he learns about the pilot and his faith in his decision grows. However, he is unconvinced about the collateral damage the hit might cause. The attack eventually is executed, but does Mohsin get his revenge?

The writer has beautifully layered the story based on the characters. The narration is unconventional in a way that it is based on characters and not the timeline. Given the subject of the story, the writer had immense room to bring in emotions and capture the cultural state of an intriguing country. He has fully capitalized this and has painted a beautiful picture. The media paints a very grim picture of the Taliban – they are ruthless barbarians who would do literally anything without conscience in the name of Jihad. Who are these Taliban people really? They are humans who were at one point oppressed. Most often than not, these terrorists have a sense of misguided faith which is planted in them by miscreants who have interpreted the tenants of a beautiful religion to satiate their needs and ego. None of the media reports have so far captured this to perfect. This writer must certainly be lauded to even attempt that. Moshin, the protagonist, was initially shown as a strong and logical individual with humane values. The same character turns into a terrorist albeit an emotional one in the latter part of the story. This transformation from one end of the spectrum to other can’t really be justified, but the fact that such a transformation can happen due to circumstances has been elaborated in a captivating manner. It is apparent that the writer has spent enough time in Afghan as he has elaborated in detail about their culture from various perspectives – to be specific, in the perspective of an native and in the perspective of a foreigner.

The narration had all emotions perfectly in place except for one – Pain. I couldn’t connect with Moshin’s pain like I could with his dilemma and love. Barring that, the story, the narration and the characterization were perfect. The title is such a giveaway to the plot in a way, but is truly apt.

MY SAY: Compelling piece of literary fiction

RATING: 4.8/5

About the Book


GENRE: Fiction – Literary

NUMBER OF PAGES: 229

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review copy from The Tales Pensive in exchange for an honest review. 
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