No matter how great a player is, it’s the game that triumphs. Author Moti Nandy’s novels have always upheld this sporting proverb. Striker and Stopper — the two novellas that’re part of one book — are about gut, sacrifice and triumph.
Striker is about an upcoming footballer Prasun Bhattacharya who struggles to hold on to his love for the game despite obstructions, temptations and failures. It also deals with his first step in to the Mecca of football in India — the Kolkata maidans. But becoming a successful footballer is not the only thing on his mind. Prasun carries the burden of being the son of a top former Kolkata League striker who has spent his life, being humiliated after being accused of throwing away a match.
Stopper, on the other hand, is about a setting star, Kamal Guha. With nothing more to prove to anyone on the pitch, Kamal takes one last ditch effort to prove to himself that he still can turn the tides single handedly.
And that’ll be his last match on the Maidan. Probably India’s only sports novelist, Moti Nandy’s works depict the brutal side of the game — the politics and the struggle. But they also inspire one to dream and work towards it.
The Sahitya Academy Award winner’s narration (originally in Bengali) can make a reader feel the steam when a striker pumps the goal at the back of the net. Arunava Sinha’s translation does justice.
Books to look out for
1001 Football Moments by Philip Andrews
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
Stories From Indian Football by Jaydeep Basu
Goalless: The Story Of A Unique Footballing Nation by Boria Majumdar and Kausik Bandyopadhyay
Football Against The Enemy by Simon Kuper