I received the book The Town That Laughed by Manu Bhattathiri as a review copy from the publisher, Aleph Book Company and am thankful to them for the same.
Change is coming to the tranquil town of Karuthupuzha, nestled deep within the lush Kerala countryside. The mighty black river, after which the town is named, is now no more than a trickle. People have begun to listen to weather forecasts on the radio rather than looking out of the window to see if it’s going to rain. The jackfruit tree in the middle of town has suddenly started fruiting. And, most seismic of all, Paachu Yemaan, the Inspector of Police, who has terrorized the town for decades has retired. Desperate to find him something to do, his wife, Sharada, and the good-hearted Barber Sureshan decide that ex-Inspector Paachu’s post retirement project will be the reforming of the town drunk, Joby. What the two good Samaritans haven’t counted on is the chain of extraordinary events that their project is about to set in motion.
Karuthupuzha, a town in south India, is still somewhere in the seventies/ eighties as no one has a cell phone and people actually talk to each other by either going to their homes or shops.
The book begins with what changes have happened in the town and the most important change is that the only bus to the town has been repainted. The other change is that the police inspector, Paachu, has retired and thus, there is a different police inspector. This book also has characters like Joby, the town drunk; Sureshan, the barber; Chako, the electrician and Varky, the photographer.
Paachu lives with his wife and his orphaned niece, Priya.
Sureshan cannot see Joby kill himself with alcohol, so he hatches a plan, Joby to take Priya to school and bring her back, he feels it is a win win for everyone, it would keep Joby busy and away from arrack, mainly because Joby is scared of Paachu and it would save Paachu the trips. So very reluctantly Paachu agrees with conditions.
This book has been written in a lighter vein but then it is serious at times.
Some characters have been developed in detail even with backstories and some are superficial. But that did not discourage me from the book, but I kept reading it. I loved Priya, she was like a breath of fresh air and also Mrs Paachu, Sharada.
The pace is slow and the stories in the book can be read as a standalone as well as in continuation with one another. They are like episodes of different TV series. They are about family relationships, friendships. This book reminded me of Malgudi days.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher, Aleph Book Company, in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.