My reading had really gone down in the past few months, so when blogadda put
up “The Muddy River” by P.A. Krishnan for review I applied immediately and was ecstatic when they chose me.
This book falls in the genre of a political or rather bureaucratic fiction. It is a story woven within a story and is nice fresh narrative style.
The book revolves around Ramesh Chandran, a bureaucrat who works for a Public sector
undertaking in Delhi. His wife Sukanya and he are dealing with a personal loss and slowly
trying to bridge the chasm between them that the loss brought in.
Ramesh is an upright employee and has several run-ins with his higher ups. He is a simpleton
at heart and has taken to writing a book in the form a diary of his life’s experiences which
forms a part of the book’s narrative. As a result of one of his skirmishes with his boss, he is
sent on an assignment to Assam as a Vigilance officer in a power company at Assam. The
insurgents kidnap an officer from the Power Company and Ramesh is assigned the task of
getting him released from his kidnappers. The book meanders over the insurgent situation in
Assam and the barter that is done with the large corporations to satisfy the monetary needs
for the same. Ramesh is initiated into the murky world of politics as leaders and ministers just
listen sympathetically and not do anything to rescue the officer from the kidnappers. He is
helped in this mission by a colleague Anupama and a police officer Bhuyan. They help him get a grasp of the local politics and help establish contact with the kidnappers.
There is another twist in the tale as Ramesh unearths monetary scandal in his own
organization and is almost finished off by his superiors and others involved. In between all
this drama, the narrative takes you through the scenic beauty of Assam and its undiscovered
tourist destinations and begs the traveler in you to explore Assam.
The book ends in a highly unexpected manner and makes you think. For me personally, I want to read it one more time just to soak in the nuances I may have missed out.
The story as a whole showcases the struggle of an honest man in a corrupt system. The
narration is fast paced but like all kidnapping dramas slows down in the waiting periods. The
concept of a novel within a novel is refreshing; however it confused me at times. The concept
of using different fonts for Ramesh’s novel and the actual story is good but needs absolute
attention from the reader to make sure you are not confusing the two. The only grouse I have with this book is that many characters just flit in and out of the story, only to reappear a lot later when you have forgotten their role in the story. The end also is a little hurried and could have been crisper. All said, a good read in the genre of political fiction.
About the Author: P.A. Krishnan started his career as a teacher, became a bureaucrat in
the Government of India and shed that mantle to become the CEO of a research foundation.
He is presently a Senior Director of a multinational company. An accomplished writer, both in English and Tamil, he lives in Delhi with his wife, Revathi, who is a teacher