Anchor Paperback – 9 Jan 2015
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About the Author
Born in Calcutta, Avik Chanda graduated from Presidency College followed by a master's at the Delhi School of Economics. He pursues a career in consulting but has also moonlighted in the past as a freelance journalist, painter and poet, with two published collections to his name. Presently, Avik resides in Hyderabad with his wife, Shikha. Anchor is his first novel.
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The story is set in an imaginary village in Bengal where the villagers are caught up in a tussle with politicians, police and goons for their land and is narrated from the perspective of a newspaper reporter.
What I liked the most is the fast pace in which the plot unfolds and the wonderful narrative style. The story line is written in a linear manner connecting different characters with different interests in the story line and the story unfolds over a night’s time. Though it is slow in the first few chapters (which the author has presented as time lines) the plot quickly becomes gripping as the events unfold. Thankfully there is hardly any verbiage so you don’t have to keep skimming through pages to get forward with the plot.
Definitely a good read, especially if you like stories that are set in India!
Anchor takes you directly into a news room of Calcutta weaving its story during the graveyard shift of the newspaper Sentinel. The racy thriller starts when the two brave news reporters set foot into a war like zone of a Calcutta village. Inspired by the one of the most violent agrarian crises in India, The Nandigram crises, the story unfolds during the dark rainy night when gruesome events occurred in the village. As the night progresses lives of multiple characters depicts the clash between police, ruling party members and villagers. Although I didn't know about Nandigram crises in much detail, the book gave me a sensitive hard reality of the inhuman brutality that occurred in 1990s.
The most unique quality of the novel is the graphical clock at the start of each chapter which leaves one hooked to the story line and creates a sense of urgency throughout the novel. The Different characters bring unique angels to this fascinating thriller supported by dark humor. Anchor is a beautifully realized novel that doesn't shy away from describing the horrors of crises as well as life's moments of beauty. The roles played by the newspaper team, party goons, policemen and politician all work together to build this graphically vivid story.
Avik handles the narrative with assurance, juggling the reader’s emotions, sympathies while adding crumbs of crucial information.
Talking about the climax, it couldn't have been a better end to the story, leaving one impressed by the story and engulfed in the emotions of its characters. One of the best thing about the book is not focusing on a single character, while all play their part crisply to make the story powerful and impressive.
An extraordinarily strong debut that remains steadily written and gives its readers a fresh and wonderful weekend read. So, Anchor yourself, once you start reading it’s hard to keep the book down. Great job Avik Chanda!
Anchor by Avik Chanda embodies this quote by Mark Twain in letter and spirit. This is the first political thriller I had chance to read which is set in India, and Avik sure does not disappoint.
Set in West Bengal, the plot captures the messy and often violent nature of Indian politcal landscape. Reading the book, one is reminded of the Singur controversy which revolved around the 'aam-aadmi' protesting against the setting up of Tata Nano factory at Singur. What makes the book truly stand apart is the 'desi' touch it brings to narrative, be it the maoists... politicans... goons... or police.... each character is steeped in realism and penned to perfection.
All-in-all, this is perhaps one of the best political thriller I've read till date and I hope the author keeps on dishing out such books in future.
A couple of observations:
Felt that the protagonist of the book was the struggle itself, and not any particular character.
The author has kept the reader guessing what Abhijit would encounter in his journey, and thereby left it to the reader's imagination as to what happens next.
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