The following is the authors perception of the Fiction Novels in India by using a variation of one of the many book reviews of the book.
Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is an excellent book by the debutant author Kochery C Shibu, which keeps you glued. The author has his own style of writing which is unique in the Fiction Novels in India. The author has used his own experience to weave a wonderful tale of adventure, love, lust, revenge and emotions. There is the amazing and convincing narration of adventure in Pakistan by Khusru, where I know for certain the author has never evens stepped his foot on. Love which seems to be a universal theme with the protagonists and many other characters in the novel. There is Khusru and his love for a plethora of women and the last tango with Rekha. There is the ever so powerful love between Nanda and his wife. There is the doctor and dancer Rekha who is looking for that eternal love.
The story moves in the back drop of a mega construction project and provides rare glimpses into the unique life in the labor camps at the site of mega hydro-power projects. The life of the men and women in the labour camp, the relationship between the petty contractor and the workers. The equation between the labour mate and the thekkedar. The author in his approach to Fiction Novels has brought out the nuances in their life and the aspirations of people at every level. The expletive driven language which they seems come to them more naturally than anything else. And of course the religious practices and superstitions which seems to have more relevance than the engineering aspects in the project.
The Fiction Novels story line moves quite fast and spans the length and breadth of India from Kashmir to Kerala to Gujarat, as well as Pakistan. I was pleasantly surprised to see th ease with the author has covered so many areas in the sub continent. There is the description of the ship breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat and the way the business is conducted. There is canvas of time capturing the life in Keral in the 70s and 80s. The story of the lady getting educated in Helisinki from Kerala and the description of the life in the hostels of the college there.
There is the life of Khusru in Pakistan with convincing detailing of bus numbers and localities of Karachi. The author though his approach to Fiction Novels has given a glimpse of the Tallin city through katariina. The story of the music revolution and the aspirations that society is well woven in. There is also life in Punjab and Himachal which is there in the book. In many ways the author has managed to amalgamate the life as we see in and around us from various parts of the world and assembled them in this mega construction site.
There is the plot of Khusru who is desperately trying to get his family back and he is trapped in another series of plots by the not so friendly people fo the cause. Rekha who falls in love with the tall and handsome Khusur herself is plotting to find a way out of the maze. The author masterfully weaves his Fiction Novels approach to seamlessly integrate the plot of Katariina who is a victim of the circumstances and drawn in to the plot. There is the kalari code of revenge and the escape from further blood feud plot of Nanda. As the novel draws to a conclusion the the author has deftly woven all the main and sub plots to deliver a book that is outstanding among Fiction Novels. There is the plot of the film crew who is entangled in the investigations. There is the plot of the Palestinian woman and necklace which seems to leave you begging for more. There is my favourite the diversion created unknowingly by John who does not step out of the airport in at Beirut and the tail spin it gives to the plot. Then there is the It engineer and the mystique girl from Morocco. The plots and sub plots have plots within plots and it is a treat to a discerning reader.
This author would be outstanding among the Fiction Novels for the simple fact that he has captured the various events of importance during the period and dovetailed them in to the novel as he developed the plot and the characters. These include events of the partition and references to the Khalistan insurgency, the Gujarat riots, the music revolution of Tallin etc. The cross section of the Kerala society during the upheaval against the communist government in Kerala. The non ending cycle of violence in the northern part of Kerala which has been going on for many decades. In all these the author through his approach to the Fiction Novels highlights the fact that there is so much of human suffering in all these.
Of course being the first book, it does have its own share of flaws. But then I would always go on and say that the plusses of the novel far outweigh the minuses. The novel is refreshingly different and possibly first of its kind among Fiction Novels in India. The engrossing narration, the depth of research and the eye for details makes this novel stand tall and a class apart among the Fiction Novels both in India as well as abroad. The book makes a good reading and must be read to know about the subtle nuances of life in the migrant labour camps, which come up and disappear with time. All in all a must read for all discerning readers and would be a good choice to add to your personal collections.
In the end I would definitely look forward to seeing more of such Fiction Novels from the author in the years to come and hope that his books will give a boost to the Indian writers in general and Indian English writers in particular.