Author: Hemant Kumar
Price: Rs 295
Publishers: Wisdom Tree, 2011
ISBN Number: 9788183281867
About the book:
Back Cover Blurb
A cold, rainy night in a forest across the Ganges, deep in the heart of eastern India.
An unarmed man with anger in his heart and a fortune on his person.
A handsome Thakur with evil on his mind and blood on his hands.
Both chasing a rare diamond, but for completely different reasons.
As the chase draws to a nerve-wracking climax, the night, too, is ticking down to a bloody end.
There are the others too—the Thakur’s beautiful wife, the sleazy psychopath, the angry muscleman, the corrupt dairy manager’s stunning daughter and the aging ranch hand with angry welts across his body and soul.
Each is a pawn in this bizarre game of life and death, and each with a story to tell. Or hide.
Will there be a sunrise for Shambhu? Or will he die like his friend, whose brutal murder triggered his perilous journey?
Talking to Hemant, the writer (quite elder to me) was a pleasant experience. But I had my fingers crossed when I received the parcel, "what will be inside- oh! A book of course- but what’s going to come along with it...will it be that kick below the line- that would make me believe –“You can’t ask for praising your work, you simply earn it through well planned dedicated effort.”
Quoting a few lines from the novel- not because I am a Bengali by birth- but because in spite of lacking a sweet tooth, my mind got sweetened as I read these lines-
“A well- crafted rasgulla is like a beautiful woman- translucent skin, fine texture, mouth watering appeal, lingering aftertaste.”
I would like to mention- the novel is not so sweet to taste- it is rather a heart crutching experience- though a good one.
I confess - that was the wordplay I was looking forward to for a long time. Simplicity never requires to be verbose- if you pick the right word and spread the colorful letters to make a marvelous descriptive, you achieve the feat of a legendary artist. The idea is to make the story gripping- then the idea has to be to make it trilling per say. Hemant Kumar’s “Prey by the Ganges” achieves the feat- for it reminds me of the cultural equality of ancient times, reminds me -"so what now the places are named as Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Bengali, Sikkim or Orissa, once upon a time- these were linked." They do even now- they share the aura of togetherness- through their customs, their language and even their livelihood.
You can’t draw Santaram here but for those who ventured into reading the translated works of several Bengali authors of the golden era- would recall the thakur clashes reverberating through novels like Gora, Devi Choudhurani, or even parts of Palli Samaj. I haven’t read much of the novels from Orissa, Assam and Bihar- thus, my paucity of knowledge limits me from mentioning other textual references. You could even get glimpses of Aronnok and touches of Ray films getting mingled as Kumar, etches out his powerful characters bone by bone. Ironically the story begins with a ghastly murder- a man beaten to dead – literally clubbed down- was that a form of merciless killing performed by tribes around the world?
Often a death issues the flow of a novel and in the Prey by The Ganges- we have a painter falling for the temptation of a rare diamond, eventually getting killed and setting his childhood friend on a quest of revengeful intensions to the very heart of turmoil. A psychopath for a landlord is a dangerous villain; a belle who can draw sensual appeal is a Hellenic recreation of history itself – the earthiness within village politics, the inculcated conspiracy- the clans at loggerhead- story is like a chess board battle coming alive in front of my eyes.
If war requires proper addressing- before you think of the great battles fought and won, lost and remembered through epics and oral legends- this fiction will demand your attention and make you forget that its around 400 pages journey through the trails of a medicine man seeking justice.
About the author:
Growing up in Bihar through the troubled sixties and seventies, Hemant has witnessed turmoil from such close quarters, that he says he has looked into the bowels of the monster called violence. But in the same turmoil, he says he has come across character of extraordinary solidity – in men and women of ordinary means. Hemant says Prey By The Ganges has cooked in his mind for as long as he can remember.