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Bombay Swastika Paperback – Import, 28 Sep 2017
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“The author has picked an unusual premise for this complex thriller. The characters are as unique as the setting. What a terrific debut!” - Shobhaa De, Bestselling Novelist and Columnist
"With the amazing ease of a seasoned storyteller, Braham Singh takes the reader to a world that is alive with history and throbbing with details. Bombay Swastika is a compelling first novel and an exciting thriller." - Anees Salim, Award-winning Author
"Braham Singh's narrative keeps you going till the end. From Nazi camps to Mumbai's deepest secrets, and to Homi Bhabha's nuclear program, Bombay Swastika keeps you gripped. Eagerly looking forward to seeing this story on a movie screen." - Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai, Award-winning Author
"What an amazing literary mash-up: taking the cauldron that is India, with its communal and industrial turmoil, and adding in tortured fragments of the Holocaust and the impact of exile and displacement from Europe. The result is a tumultuous and haunting tour de force and a stunning debut novel." - Monroe E. Price, Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York City
BOMBAY SWASTIKA, by Braham Singh…..a Review…..
A Sensational thriller wherein the author cleverly juxtaposes settings that oscillate between Germany of 1934 and the Bombay of the 1960s. The swathe of the landscape is so much at variance that it is the author’s ingenuity that makes for a seamless read! One drifts effortlessly into Germany and back with the main character.
The dramatis personae is varied; indeed the huge cast of characters is superbly delineated with their pet foibles and idiosyncrasies that makes them totally credible. The underlying commentary on the corruption that manifests in Government issues; the big importance of how everyone has a price and one pays in cash or kind is conveyed very simply with no moralistic overtones.
The 'Pucca sahibs’ and club culture floats in on cue as it were as a perfect setting for the Firangis left behind in India and the WOGS (Western oriented gentlemen -- -brown Sahibs). The abject melancholia of the slums provides a perfect foil. The singular exposure to the Hijra cults & Tantric philosophy make for fascinating hitherto unknown elements of Hinduism. India on the threshold of becoming a Nuclear power is very succinctly conveyed along with its idolatry beliefs and naïve acceptance of largesse from the larger world powers.
Language is simple with apt metaphors sprinkled all through is evocative of a person exposed to the delights of the written word! The descriptive passages are largely illuminative and convey the imagery effectively. The penchant for using profanity is rather distracting .as was the unnecessary and rather repetitive emphasis on body functions!
A great way to enter the field of wonderful and absorbing fiction through this bomb of a First book!
Wishing the author even greater success in future novels! - Gayathri Krishna
About the Author
As Chief Product Officer of a global telecommunications company, BRAHAM SINGH writes extensively on IT and telecommunications. Shifting gears, he now gives us Bombay Swastika, his first novel. He also wrote the screenplay for Emperor, a political thriller set in Malaysia and based around their May 1969 race riots. Emperor, the novel, is near completion. He recently began research on his third novel, The Little Eunuch, set in China. He divides his time between Virginia and Hong Kong.
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A German Jew in India, a Mallu Muslim engineer and a Sindhi Refugee girl, make up the main characters , all skillfully picked to narrate a tale different than the stereotypes.
Most of the pre-independence era books that I had read, were mostly based on the atrocities hurled by the outsider sahebs on the brown skinned. Bombay Swastika doesn’t talk about the conventional stories, it takes all the odd ones out and speaks about them.
A gora who is struggling with his finances and desires. A communist who even being a part of the country, is considered an outlaw, owing to his religious status. A young assistant, ready to seek help to avenge the death of her childhood friend. A story that one would have probably not imagined.
The word 'Swastika', a symbol of spirituality, was twisted into a symbol of hatred by the Nazis as they used it to inculcate widespread rallies across Germany. The author here, used the titled to represent the connection of the Black Swastika in the form of Ernst, a Jew, who lands up in Bombay.
Besides the literal meaning, what is amazing about the title is how sophisticated and catchy it sounds while also managing to remain relevant to the plot of the book.
Title Rating - 5 / 5
Upon first glance, the cover is nearly ordinary. However, it is only on looking closer that it becomes evident how striking the imagery really is. A woman wrapped in a red cloth, with a swastika locket dangling behind her down to her back. To me, it depicted strangulation by a weirdly contorted symbol of well-being.
Cover Rating - 4.5 / 5
"Truth be told, he still didn't know what to make of his father's life or his mother's death.." - Braham Singh
There is no doubt that this book is an outright thriller right from the start. Without having the elements of an action, the adventurous approach to the plot made it seem all the more fast-paced while realistically setting us towards a gripping experience. It isn't just a story, it's a movie in words. Bombay has been portrayed in very high detail though set around the 1960s and this provides an insight into India from the past.
"As with most buildings, bulbs were optional and the corridors cast long shadows." - Braham Singh
The author has a very strong sense of language and it was nearly impossible to find any errors within the book. That being said, the diction and the vocabulary seemed a little too overpowering at times, making it a little difficult to stick to the scene. In some places, however, this seemed necessary. The author did a fantastic job in connecting loose ends and finishing off the story on a sweet note.
"A beauty of sorts crept into the night and a feeble moon looked down at India." - Braham Singh
There is such keen characterization in the novel that one almost misses to focus of the story. Each character has been etched with such depth and glory that it easily dominates the plot. This, in fact, is a good thing because it ensures that the novel sticks with you for long afterward the reading is done.
Overall, it is a highly engaging and an enjoyable read.
Plot Rating - 4 / 5
The writing style
A less dramatic ending
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5
Verdict: Definitely Worth Every Penny!
*4.5/5 rounded up
I am not so much into murder mysteries and thriller novels, but Braham's debut book was a pleasurable read. The writing style is connecting and fresh. There's not much scope for editing, and such things have been taken care of!
Braham is a debut writer, but his writing intellect seemed to be experienced enough to hold you glued.
Writing a book with so much research involved is certainly not an easy task.
The negative part is so many characters (though they're managed decently), and so lengthy word count (400 pages). If it'd have been shorter, the thrill part could be better. Though, the wit in the dialogues keeps the pace interesting.
For the thrill-lovers, this book surely would be a treat!
A book you should definitely try!
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