Of Whom Shall I be Afraid—Saugata Roybarman

Jan 16, 2024 | Bookworm | 0 comments

A BOOK REVIEW BY DEBRAJ MOULICK


“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere  
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst  
Are full of passionate intensity.”

                    (The Second Coming, W.B. Yeats)


One might wonder the context of quoting the famous lines from Yeats’ famous poem, The Second Coming as the opening statement of the review ofOf Whom Shall I be Afraid’. Let there be an end to this wandering thoughts, this novel involves blood-baths, falling apart of lives as well as things, sacrifice of innocence and most importantly the game between falcon and falconer; however, you need to dive into this adrenaline pumped thriller in order to decipher the falcon, falconer and most importantly the game.

    Bhoi Chai Bhoi (2017) originally written in Bengali by Saugata Roybarman and translated into English as Of Whom Shall I be Afraid (2023) by Subhadeep Palit. It is a high pumping thriller set in the backdrop of City of Joy involving two main characters, Rishin and George. One is the killer while another one is the victim. Ironically the victim has hired the executioner to execute him so that he could feel the sense of fear, the intensity of emotions which can be experienced by a person nearing his doom. This is where the book is ahead of the curve and it steers way ahead than the regular crime whodunits published in the recent years. The novel depicts a fascinating plot, an array of striking characters and an appealing narrative technique.

Panic and the Plot

A guy without any thrill in his life hires a suave killer to exterminate him and while doing so they engage themselves in a wild chase of cat and mouse. The subplots trace the problematic relationship of the victim with two women characters. It also focuses on the origin story of the main players Rishin and George. The storyline dives into the shady side of the conurbation and the readers are going to have an exhilarating time while walking through the gory underworld of Kolkata, connection with communist past and the tryst with minorities of Anglo-Indian community in Kolkata as well as Bengal. The panic in the mind of the protagonists as well as antagonists drives the plot.

Charismatic Characters

Rishin is a genius heading an advertising agency and he is having everything by his side, money, a loving partner but he is problematic. He has lost the ability to feel anything. The author provides a backdrop of Rishin, his early days and his college days in Scottish Church College and his relationship with the love of his life, Mandira with whom he engages into passionate lovemaking. One moment he is a passionate man and the next moment he is the empty bullet shell, empty but exceedingly volatile. A classic case of bipolar disorder. Rishin is the one who invents the problem in the plot and gets enmeshed by the intensity of the whirlpool created by him.

Mandira, an eminent journalist has been etched as a confident modern woman who ends up being at the receiving end of the eccentricities of her husband, Rishin. She constantly tries to untie the knot of the complex situations but at times she is helpless but ends up being an important player in the dangerous game.

Payel is the mysterious woman who shares a history with both Rishin and George. She metamorphoses into a woman with a different identity, she links the protagonist and the antagonist in the most unexpected way.

George, a love child of a catholic priest makes a dashing mark in the narrative. He displays a super chiseled figure and an active mind, he is the most stylish and the most dangerous character in the novel, he doesn’t have the license to kill but he kills according to his own accord mostly in exchange of money. In an unethical way, George is the most ethical one.

Another character that deserves a mention, the high ranked Police officer, Sadananda Ray who heads the investigation of the missing man and a high voltage murder of an underworld don.

Narratives

The narrative technique remains one of the most striking features of the text. It goes backward in an episodic manner. The book is divided into three parts each begins with the quotes from the holy Bible. The Omnipotent narration provides an in-depth exploration of plots, the psychological development of characters, the connection with colonial past (Portuguese history and Bow Barracks), Communist revolution (Naxalbari), insinuation to classics of English Literature (T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, Shelly’s Promethus Unbound), the thrill of navigating through the bylanes of Kolkata and lastly the whole curiosity about the destiny of the characters makes this one a must read. With impeccable editing, striking cover design and a smooth book binding, this one deserves to be part of your book shelf.


Blurb

Stayin’ Alive. That’s what Rishin had always wanted to do. He did not want to spend his life like a coward. He wanted to live,to breathe and feel afraid. He wanted to taste fear. His quest

for fear dragged him to his own nemesis. He hired a killer to kill himself.

His life revolved around three axes – Mandira, Payel, and George. While Mandira was the interior of his Home, Payel was the call of the wild, the unknown. And George? He is the assassin Rishin appointed to kill himself. Will George honor his code and the contract?

The night is young. People are running. Some chasing, some being chased. What will happen at the break of dawn? Who will live and who will die?

 


Also, read Book Excerpt of “Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid” by Sougata Roybarman, Translated from The Bengali By Subhadeep Palit, published in The Antonym:

Book Excerpt— Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid


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Saugata Roybarman

Saugata Roybarman

Saugata Roybarman (c. 1958, Nabagram, Konnagar), after completion of diploma in mass-communication, worked on the aboriginals of India as a reporter for Anandabazar Patrika (Vumi lakhsmi weekly), Paribartan, Ajakal, among others. His short-campaign film Bodh was awarded by the Hungarian Consulate General (Kolkata) at Nandan, funded by the National Literacy Mission of India, FFSI and Govt. Of West Bengal. After working as the creative group head of ABCL, TSPL, and R.K.Swami advertisement agencies, Roybarman has directed full-length feature films like Chaturanga (for Duradarshan, Kolkata), Nobboi Ghonta, Tobe Tai Hok. His published works include Bhoy Chai Bhoy, Nidhiramer Sordari, Tobe Tai Hok, Chambal Live, Iti Vabadiyo.

SUBHADEEP PALIT

Subhadeep Palit completed his Masters in English Literature from Jadavpur University. When he is not busy with administrative duties, he enjoys writing, football, chess, and reading crime fiction. His edited volume, Auld Lang Syne, delves into the rich history and heritage of the Hooghly district of West Bengal, India, through narrative and illustrations.

 

Debraj Moulick

DEBRAJ MOULICK

Debraj Moulick is a Lecturer (English) in K.J Somaiya Polytechnic, Mumbai, India. He is also a bilingual poet, short story writer, official book reviewer, blogger and a researcher in science fiction literature. Debraj also enjoys conducting workshops on creative writing, poetry and business communication. His writings have been published in various webzines, magazines and anthologies.

Moulick did his M.Phil dissertation in Indian Science Fiction from Department of English, University of Mumbai. He is a lifelong member of Indian Association of Science Fiction Studies (IASFS), Bangalore. India. Moulick has worked as an organising committee member as well as Editor of an International Science Fiction Conferences in India. Debraj has provided expert lectures on various topics like Science Fiction in Bengal, Thought Experimentation in Bangla Science Fiction, The Need to Popularize Indian Vernacular Science Fiction among others. His articles and official book reviews on speculative fiction have been published in Science India Magazine and Kalpabiswa.

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