The world had its eyes on India in December 2012. Why? Because of the horrific events of one night which shocked the nation, and the severity of it, the agitation it caused throughout the nation was of such magnitude that the world had no option but to turn its eyes on Delhi. I remember having a discussion with some friends after a few days, and we discussed the probability that a book will come out sooner or later related to this. It was a discussion brought about by a book that was a first person narration of events of yet another tragedy that struck India, the 27/11 attacks. Thankfully, this book that starts off from the events of December 2012 takes the story to a fictional India, but one related in its entirety to the current political scenario.
The Edge of Power starts with a page on the details of the Nirbhaya rape, and takes it to the world he has made in his first book The Edge of Desire (EOD). With political parties at loggerheads in the wake of this new crime, photographer and activist Daivik decides to start a political party of his own, and once-successful Bollywood actress Katherine joins the cause. But every party needs a face, one that the nation can look at as a possible leader. Their choice, and one they try to recruit is the protagonist of EOD Shruti Ranjan. The catch is that Shruti has gone as far away as she can from politics.
In my opinion, there are two types of fiction. One that is based on the world around us, and the other is one that takes us to a whole new imaginary world. Both have their good and bad points. This book, as one can imagine just reading the blurb, is of the former type. The advantage of such a scenario is that the world around can relate to the setting and its events, and easily grasp on while reading. You link threads from the novel to the notions and ideologies that you see and maybe even experience happening every day around you. It brings questions that we, as citizens of the country, may have wanted to ask or point out all along, from any aspect of politics that has been seen being played around us. That, when added to a nice pacy yet controlled narration that engages the reader and makes it unputdownable (as they say these days), makes it a worthwhile read. The thing that works against the book, I feel, is that there is a possibility that the setting is so realistic that fictional names aside, it tends to feel like a non-fiction. When it goes that way, the creativity of the author to have presented this gripping novel becomes a little less effective.
Is the Edge of Power a great book? Yes. Undoubtedly it is, given that state of things around has not changed much at all from 2012, and that there is an election in April/May for which campaigning has already started. But it is so seated in politics that someone who has no particular interest or views on the same might not enjoy the read as much.
In A Gist:
Positives: Realistic plot, engaging narration and characters
Negatives: Might not hold the interest of someone not very interested in politics, and the book is so realistic that sometimes it feels like a non-fiction.
About the author:
Tuhin A. Sinha is a columnist, screenwriter and an author from India. He has authored five novels, with each of them breaking new ground in terms of subject and treatment. He is also a keen political observer.
Title: The Edge of Power
Author: Tuhin A. Sinha
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: INR. 275
(7th March, 2014)