The best books in the fiction genre are those that are born out of the local fare, the local news and the local trends – for the perfectly simple reason that the readers can easily connect with them. The current book under review may not be among the best, but is easily one of the better ones in Indian Fiction in the English Language. This book, and others such, make me sad – for want of sufficient space on book shelves, and a greater marketshare. For these books derserve far greater share than they get.
The book has been inspired by one of the most prominent cases to hit out Media in recent times, that of a solialite arrested for the murder of her daughter / sister. I am pretty sure this will ring bells in the minds of most Indian readers. The story is that of Maya, a Media baroness, who gets arrested for the murder of Veena, her purported sister. Turns out that the sister is actually the daughter, a sordid tale unto itself. Also involved are a literal litany of her ex-lovers, for this Maya has quite a history, a rather purple-coloured history of an achiever who kept morals far away in her rise up the corporate ladder. But, the big question is : is she really the criminal?
The difficulty in writing a fiction book on current events is that reader comparison happens; cynicism also sets in, as there is the tendency to underplay the content and the imagination that goes into crafting a fictional story out of such events. Such books have to quickly set a tone of their own, kindle reader interest pretty fast; and keep the readers interested right through. Second, the plot should be sufficiently different, using the real event only as an inspiration, that is – the story should be individual, not a copy.
Is It Maya quite successfully negotiates most of these challenges. It takes off smoothly, and quickly engages the reader into its content and its pages. The plot has no twists and turns of a major nature; despite this, interest has been maintained through a combination of constant and consistent introduction of new characters into the story, and new facts. Each carries the story forward in some way, each introduces new elements into the story. This keeps interest going.
The pace is not frenetic; this is an easy-paced book. There is no violence of any sort; this is not a thriller by any stretch of imagination. This is more of a book around the human-interest anger, and a suspense genre book. The continuous refusal of Maya to admit guilt, despite breaking down and confessing to the true relationship between her and Veena, is one point that increasingly creates questions in your mind. And yet, it keeps the reader interested right till the last page, which makes it an excellent fiction book!
The character development is adequate for the genre; there are only two strongly etched characters in this. Befitting the title – Is It Maya – the strongest and most developed character is of Maya. The only other character who is comparably well developed is Vivek, a childhood friend; and Maya’s latest husband, David. Everyone else is subdued, which all comes together in the end. The skillful method of holding back information has been excellently deployed, with the end being completely logical. All in all, this book is an excellent read on a journey, or on a tour, as a good time-pass. Rated 3.5 Stars out of 5.