I received India’s first composite novel, Crossed & Knotted edited by Sutapa Basu. The book has been written by fourteen authors, yes you read it right, fourteen authors, in close collaboration with each other. They are Sutapa Basu, Ayan Pal, Sanchita Sen Das, Arvind Passey, Mithun Mukherjee, Avanti Sopory, Bhaswar Mukherjee, Deepti Menon, Amrit Sinha, Monika Nair, Amar Lakshya Pawar, Bhuvaneshwari Shankar and Arpita Banerjee. When asked by the Book Club whether I wanted to review the book, I replied in affirmative because I was very curious to know what a composite novel would be like.
The definition of a composite novel states “The composite novel is a literary work composed of shorter texts that— though individually complete and autonomous—are interrelated in a coherent whole according to one or more organizing principles.”
From the blurb:
The chapters, each a story in itself, are knotted with one another through characters, events, settings and emotions. The result is a read that criss-crosses through a multitude of emotions bringing out deep rooted human desires. They narrate tales of love and betrayal, suspense and mystery, courage and dilemma, along with hope and resilience. Read it for a taste so tantalizing, that your mind will surely be craving for more!
The book starts with the story of Sudip Roy, a young boy who comes to Delhi to study and ends up staying in Delhi and getting married, waiting outside the ICU of a hospital where his wife was brought in an unconscious state. She passes away leaving him with his daughter, Shivi, and his parents. The second story starts when Shivi is studying in a college in Delhi. She loves to read diaries and one such diary is the diary of Joseph Varughese. This story has another character introduced, the character of Siya, Shivi’s best friend. The third story connects Siya and Joseph Varughese and introduces us to Varu, an Indian boy who comes in search of Iliana but dies in a plane crash. The fourth story is of Iliana and Varu and Varu’s book, The diary of Joseph Varugese. The next story is about Iliana meeting Catherine in Kerala. Then the book moves to newer characters like Rukhsana whom Catherine meets in Afghanistan, Poorni, Pankaj, Binoy, Meena and Pragya. And then the story comes back to Sudip.
I shall not write more and spoil the suspense of the book.
I first read the book as a novel and found it to be complete in itself. Then I randomly read one short story and realized that it is a standalone. All credit goes to the writers who made such a work possible. Each story has a different central character and is different as an individual story but when put together they all gel well together just like rice and pulses and Khichdi. All the possible themes have been incorporated in the book like love, betrayal, courage, suspense and friendship. The sequence of the stories help maintains the flow of the book.
Overall, a beautifully written book, one that stays with the reader for a long time.
Book Source: The Book Club Group