Book Review : Death Of A Moneylender

Published September 4, 2016 by vishalvkale

Image result for death of a moneylenderI picked this book up from Western Book Store, Sadar, Nagpur, as I was strolling the market; just missed the Author who had visited the same store… a deep regret for me! Coming to the book, this is a book of rare skill, a book that defies description as it successfully blends two diametrically different genres into one composite whole. It is also a book, with some detailing and  alteration, that can become an excellent non-fiction work as well, and that is its true strength. This is the third book by the current author I have read, and it has to be said that each work has been different from the others, each has been really good, which speaks volumes for the versatility of the author. 
Falak : Journalist, clear headed in his ideology and approach towards his job and his vocation. Also highly confused about his his ideology and approach towards his job and his vocation… yup, both in the same person at the same time!
Vani : 1/Falak; Inversely Proportional to Falak, Falak * -1; The Opposite of Falak. And yes, She loves, and she doesn’t love him, both at the same time. Go figure!
Bhanu : Don’t jump to conclusions. Please don’t.
The plot revolves around the death of a moneylender in a remote village; the only problem was that this particular character was quite well loved in more ways than one.  A genuinely gentle man with a helpful attitude, and a propensity of forgiving loads or readjusting payment schedules, he wasn’t one of your rural toughs who arm twist people and charge immense interest rates. To further  complicate matters, he was a highly educated man in agriculture, educated in the sense that he would try out the best and latest techniques, methods, and be a guide to villagers. Not the kind of man that would fall prey to a set of vengeful villagers, which is what this village was – angry. Who killed him – and why? Why was this  genteel guide and friend of the village murdered, apparently by a mob?
As an undercurrent to the main story, and beautifully intertwined with it, is a superb secondary line of thought : two journalists with divergent approaches; one who believes the end justifies the means, and reportage is primarily editor and organization driven rather than content and reality driven – while the other having diametrically different approach, that of due diligence, authoritative research, hard legwork, focus on the facts and the truth; and a commitment to bringing the reality to the fore. Both these stories superbly connect at a series of points in the book as well as provide food for thought
This is a thought-provoking book; in fact, so powerful is the presented narrative that I would like  to ask the Author to – whenever she feels she has enough data regarding these affairs, and latitude in her day job, to present a non-fiction work along these lines, presenting the reality of the on-ground situation. Admittedly, that would be a tough ask, and is bound to take time as well as  solid research and carefully worded and phrased content, given the topic. I hope she does  do it; I would certainly like to read it.
It takes you deep into village life, and particularly the village and farming economy – not on a paper-level, or on an analytical level; but on a gut-wrenching hard-hitting level of the individual farmer, as well as the socio-cultural mileu and environment of a village. Even I, who have identified farming credit as one of the key contributory factors of the farming scenario in India in my Agriculture Series, was hit hard at this personal approach, despite being reasonably familiar with the reality. The difference is that while my understanding is basis reading a series of research papers, I get the feeling this book has a lot of personal experience behind it, and it shows.
{For the layman : for a basic understanding, please read this article in my series, which lists the main issues and gives a small commentary regarding the same}

A this point, a word about the one point in this book that struck me the most – the writing style {I could be wrong, of course}, seemed at variance with the previous work {Her latest – The Honest Season}; the words, phrases and style was almost like a moving video; you would draw images in your mind as your reading progressed. As suits this style, the charectarisation has been kept strictly minimal; and the entire focus was on the content and the story.
The story is very fast; in fact, surprisingly fast for this genre and this deep and frankly slightly darkish content. This is a book that you will read in one sitting, and enjoy it immensely too. There are precisely zero needless detours despite their being an excellent opportunity for a detour into a love angle. This temptation has been thankfully avoided, and the focus kept on the story in what praiseworthy and commendable focus – also adding a lovely spice of suspense to the story…

The story has been adroitly handled, and presented in a manner that heightens your interest, invoking reading passion into the subject; this keeps the reader riveted. The straightforward story of a moneylender bends somewhat when it emerges that this guy was a very well loved man indeed; but then why are the villagers so clearly angry? Even more pertinent, why has he killed? Read the book to find out more; all I say is that this is one of the finest works of fiction I have read, and rate it 5 stars! 

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