Topi Shukla (Hindi) Paperback – 2016
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The author develops the novella through putting together a collage of vignettes from different phases of the life of the protagonist and his friends. Most of these are ironic in nature, contributing to the wry and satirical spirit of the book, underlying which is a deep cynicism. The conversations between Topi Shukla and his friends are constituted of a remarkable degree of light-hearted spontaneity as is found in the easiest, most comfortable of friendships. The social atmosphere of Uttar Pradesh, particularly Aligarh, in the decade and a half following Partition is portrayed in vivid detail. Given to dark humour, the novella lacks an intensity that would leave a deep mark on the mind of the reader. At times, Raza seems to be too intent on making an impression on the reader through his skill of language and narrative rather than organically expressing the truth of his story. Nevertheless, this is an endearing, unique contribution to the records of the Hindu-Muslim experience in modern India.