Top critical review
Mixture of a drama and a literary novel
8 November 2018
If you have lived through 90s' India (specially Eastern India), you will most certainly connect to lot of the scenarios penned in this novel. Patna Blues takes you to a journey which even though you might not have traveled but definitely would have heard of.
The story revolves around Arif, his family, his forgotten love, and his profane love-life with a married woman amidst his perpetual struggle to succeed in Civil Services Exams.
The narration of the book is sleek making it a fast paced and unputdownable read in most parts. There are instances which will force you to stop reading for a while and demand a jog through of your past memories to get the essence of the narrative. That is the kind of journey Patna Blue take your through in those 300 pages.
There are quite a few crude languages used, which are placed appropriately, making the instances in the book seem more real. Abdullah's use of some beautiful shayris is an icing on the top.
In spite of all these, there were instances which I personally felt the author could have just avoided, like politics related incidents as someone who is apolitical might feel those sections of the book to be quite insipid.
The ending felt sketchy and I felt that it should have been more detailed. The book ends in such a manner that it made all the struggles and the pain that Arif and his family went through look miniscule and ignored. Hopefully there will be a sequel to Patna Blues, if not then there remains too many questions unanswered in the end, whose answers won't be available ever or is left to the readers interpretation, which is highly unusual in a genre of these kind of novels.
Overall the book gives you a feeling of mixture of a drama and a literary novel, which absolutely demands at least one read.