Dr Harish Narang is a professor of Centre for English Studies, School Language, Literature & Culture Studies, JNU. He is also the General Council of Sahithya Akademy, New Delhi. I am grateful to him that he took out time from his busy schedule to read my book. This is what Prof Narang has to say about my first novel.
In a recent study, Harvard Business Review called it 'a strategic tool with irresistible power'. The tool being spoken about is nothing but the age old art of storytelling - something that began with the dawn of humanity and that will last as long as humanity does. Over time, the art of storytelling has undergone a sea change - both in its content as well as the manner of narration. By the time the twentieth century arrived, it had become really esoteric. However, as the Harvard Business Review put it, you need to have a good story’ because 'as humans we know that stories work'.
Story of Tublu which the writer Jahid Akhtar calls 'An amazing journey called life' is one such story. The writer has certainly a story to tell – that of Tanmay alias Tublu and his father Bipin Bora and many others - and he knows how to tell it. Hemingway had once observed that the best way to tell a story is to tell as straight as possible and this is what Jahid Akhtar has done in the novel.
Tublu and his father have a dream run in their lives after meeting Mr. Sharma when their home was destroyed by the surging Brahamputra, things keep on happening around them: Mr. Sharma, having helped Bipin and his son Tublu, develops cancer, arranges his daughter Maina’s marriage hurriedly with Suraj who commits suicide within days of the marriage. But there are many more twists and turns in the story before Tublu who had a secret crush on Maina since the childhood, is united with Maina in marriage thereby bringing the novel to a close.
In this age of post-modernist narration, where medium is the message and method has had replaced the content, Jahid Akhtar’s novel Story of Tublu is refreshingly different from many novels being written by Indians today. Located for a major part in the northeast of the country, the narrative is full of anthropological details of lives of people in that part of India, some of which are well-known and some less known. The end, in some ways, is predictable and not full of suspense as many stories these days are. And yet the writer manages to keep the readers’ interests alive until the inevitable happens, that is, until Tublu and Maina – a widowed mother of a five-year old son, located in Berlin get married.
All in all a very racy, engaging readable book.