By Tejas Desai. Grade: B
A failed writer and libertine living in NYC, Niral Solanke moves from Bushwick to his parent’s house in Queens, where he expects to make amends with a Hindu religious organization called the Brotherhood. But when a childhood friend commits suicide, Niral is thrust into a netherworld of crime, corruption and religious fervour that tests the limits of his newfound faith. Set during the current recession, featuring a variety of larger-than-life characters and sprinkled with Hindu imagery and philosophy, The Brotherhood is a unique and urgent noir thriller.
The novel is basically about the chain of events in the life of the protagonist Niral and his family members triggered by the apparent suicide of a close friend. The whole plot is set against the backdrop of a religious organisation known as the Brotherhood.
They say that never judge a book by its cover, but nobody said anything about judging the cover, so. There is only so much any reader can do to ignore the cover, to not actually be put off by it and continue reading the book. Every author must keep in mind not just the validity and descriptiveness of the cover page, but its impact, the first impression, on the reader.
The synopsis says “larger-than-life characters”. The problem with this claim is two-fold: first, the characters have done nothing to prove the statement correct and second, the plot and the writing don’t portray the characters in the aforementioned manner. There are some serious issues in the writing as well.
The language of the book seems to be pretty laboured most of the times. It seems to be dangling between urban slang and learnt, unnatural English. This is not just about certain scenes where the characters are “required” to do so. The complete flow of the book seems to be this way.
“We are not here to judge the tastes of others.” “Yes, Pappa.”
The double-p is a good way to emphasize the Gujarati way of addressing one’s father.
The build-up to the suspense showed spark at times but the suspense itself was mediocre. As is essential, the unravelling of the suspense should be the crescendo of the novel, something which was lacking in The Brotherhood.
A proofreading error:
“Can you finish up the bookkkeeping when you get a chance?”
The correct term is bookkeeping.
The author has tried to incorporate too many elements in an attempt to cover as much ground as possible – sex, organised crime or mafia, religion, love, passion, and art. It’s not a grand mess but it certainly is not far from it. It’s good to bring variety into the plot with different elements but it better be right, otherwise the gamble is bound to blow up in your face.
This is a common trend nowadays. Indian authors who write in English seem to be unduly tilting towards their school of writing: maybe due to language, maybe due to the fact that being Indians we “think” in Hindi. Nevertheless, this tilt is pulling down the overall reading experience. Overall, it was a good attempt that had scope for improvement.