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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Book Review: Tall Man Small Shadow: A Game of Coincidences

Tall Man Small Shadow written by Vipin Behari Goyal is a debut novel from the writer but not his first published work. Prior to this he has two good books to his credit. He has written a useful travel handbook on "TirthRaj Pushkar" which is about a holy place in Ajmer district in Rajasthan, India. After that Vipin wrote a poetry book in Hindi Tej Dhoop Ka Safar. And now his third work is a love story woven in a very different style in fiction genre. Vipin has also an award winning short film Mines are Mine to his credits.

The cover of Tall Man Small Shadow is quite neat and matches well with the theme of story. A tall male straight standing shadow in black with a small shadow of a female standing with a style. Best part of this  book is multi-narrative style. Each character narrates his/ her own experience as the story goes along. The main characters of this story are Aalya and Salil who are young living in neighborhood. Aalya is the only daughter of Anupam and Sulekha. Aalya is doing her research under her guide Seema. Salil lives alone in the same vicinity where Aalya lives with her parents. Characterization is quite strongly done by Vipin.

Salil in his college days fell in love with Nasrin who was the most beautiful girl in the college. Salil is quite serious, introvert and studious kind of guy. This love, being inter caste is not well taken by Nasrin's parents and she is forced to marry with her cousin by her parents. This gives a jolt of his life to Salil who goes into deep depression and tries to attempt suicide by taking overdose of sleeping pills. But he survives due to timely medical attention. Though he could not comes back to normal even after his survival, but his life goes on as he joins a job after that.

Aalya's mother Sulekha is quite active on social networks and uses internet to connect to people of her choice to drive the story of Tall Man Small Shadow. Sulekha's husband Anupam is having a good hold in society, bearing a good amount of influence of top brass of the city. Seema's husband Paul is a well known figure in the world of Arts being a Drama writer and director. Paul and Seema, though are married for long, are childless and have some differences between them, and appear a good couple to external world around them. Aalya gets attracted to Salil and they get married with the blessings of both their parent's consent and blessings.

The story has a number of twists that keep interest alive throughout. Eventually story has two strong factors that keep it alive right since beginning till end. First is the narrative style of writing by Vipin where each character has his own chance to narrate story in its own voice. Second is the number of twists woven in the story that keeps it alive and interesting throughout.

Regarding 'characterization' of the characters of this story, there was no need to show some characters, and that too the main ones, as shabby by highlighting their dark side. 'Character' of a character of a story or a novel  totally depends on the writer of that story as he is the sole creator of them. In my opinion there was no need to show Seema and Aalya as lesbians and even at some moment of time in the story, Aalya's mother, Sulekha, vetting for it. The story would have gone well in the same manner, even without this part. At some moment of time reader might get hurt by the 'looseness' of Salil (when he has sex with Nasreen after she getting married to someone else), Aalya falling pray to Seema's pull due to being lesbian, Seema herself being so successful in her carrier and being lesbian etc.

Overall Tall Man Small Shadow is an interesting read. The last twist in the story is a Pandora box for the readers of this book.