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Book review: History of a country and tale of its humans narrated in a philosophical way

Author BK Karkra narrates the horrors of Partition of India while narrating the story of NRI’s who shift to foreign shores for a better future.

books Updated: May 18, 2018 17:50 IST
Henna Rakheja
Cover of the book The Tale of Two Countries by BK Karkra.
Cover of the book The Tale of Two Countries by BK Karkra.

When you meet someone, there’s a historical background and baggage that the new acquaintance comes with. That’s how characters are introduced in BK Karkra’s The Tale of Two Countries. This book, however, doesn’t just conjure up characters, but also harps on the history of the Indian subcontinent and reiterates the pain suffered during Partition.

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Like Charles Dickens sets his classic, A Tale of Two Cities in London and Paris to narrate French Revolution, Karkra also sets his contemporary work in London to chronicle how families from North India migrated to the foreign shores in search of better opportunities and speedy economical growth. Thus unfolds the story of the protagonists Gursevak Grewal and Sukhvinder Kaur. The two survive the horrors of Partition, enjoy blissful matrimony, a challenging phase of parenting and live a life that’s full of lessons for the readers.

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What works is the succinct description of historical facts, and what doesn’t is the excessive use of Punjabi in certain sections that breaks the flow of a reader. Also, often the present to past transition is smooth, but not vice versa, which adds jerks to the tale. Unexpected bursts of humour can be experienced due to relatable situations such as at the airport check-in and mention of an NRI’s need to learn to “speak haltingly with a nasal tinge” to get assimilated in the British culture.

Reading this book will be a task unless one likes to delve into the philosophies of life. Sample this: “Life is essentially a one-way journey and you have to constantly adjust to the requirements of your existing situation.”

Facts
  • Title: The Tale of Two Countries
  • Author: BK Karkra
  • Publisher: Rupa
  • Price: Rs 295

Interact with Henna Rakheja at Twitter/@HennaRakheja