Top positive review
Inspirational at many levels!!
20 July 2018
Half the Night is Gone' is special to me; special because I could see my father, my elder brothers, and uncles in it. I could sense where they came from and why they think, what they think, of our present. It calmed down a lot of restlessness that I had regarding my previous generations and the way they have had perceived ‘India.’ In short, this book helped to reason out (or better-- to get away with the need of reasoning out) ‘who we are today.’ Rarely do we come across a book that trails, unabashedly, the journey of typical north-Indians through the exciting past to this nearly-dystopian present— the time when the past was getting ready to become the present. As I try to understand the story comprehensively, for me, it is about that journey clinching its narrative to the nostalgia of ‘who we were.’
The most exciting trail of this book is that how it relates the ‘individualism’ with ‘institutionalism.’ How their ‘big things’ affect our ‘small things’ and how our ‘small things’ eventually become their ‘big things.’ For instance, Vishwanath's political standing had immense relevance with ‘who we are today.’ His ideological war against left radicalism and romanticism with Gandhianism is raw and palatable to every second Indian of that generation. I loved the way how his political ideology gets intervened with his personal sorrow. How we, the broken ones-- individual, always try to make sense of our suffering from institutionalism.
Another subplot that intrigued me the most was ‘toxic masculinity’ (I did not use the word ‘patriarchy,’ here J ). Mange Ram and Lala Chand were classic victims of the male-ego grid system in Indian society. They were so distanced from their selves that they could not even make sense of their own grief. I loved the instances in the book where they were shown entirely oblivious to their own vulnerabilities. Another common, but rarely discussed trait, I see in typical north-Indians males.
But what I loved the most is the structure of the book. To be very honest, I was a bit scared before picking up this book—three generations intervened, religious sub-text, a changing country, and a sorrowing novelist. Before reading, I thought am I ready to take this journey? However, while reading, not for a moment, I felt that I was bombarded with loose ends or unnecessary sub-plots. The structure of this book is inspirational and aspirational at so many levels. The epistolary treatment of the book (mainly the interjections of the letters) made this magnum opus a subtle tale of existence that can be consumed and enjoyed by amateur readers as well.
After all, when I read the epilogue’s last line (… his second peda of the day is waiting for him) I reconnected to the title of the book ‘Half the Night is gone’—the melancholy of the ‘gone’ and the hopefulness of the other ‘half’ that is left.