Tuesday, February 16, 2010

REVIEW: Witness the Night

Witness the Night
Kishwar Desai
Rs. 250
Pp 256
ISBN: 9788172239220

Durga. A fourteen-year-old girl, found all alone in a sprawling farm house tucked away in a corner of Punjab. Silent, terrified, and the sole suspect in the mass murder of thirteen members of her family. Simran. Whisky-swigging, chain-smoking unmarried social worker from Delhi. She is Durga’s only hope, for Simran is the only one who believes that Durga may be more a victim than a suspect. As Simran tries to explore every corner of Jullundar and its people, from the enigmatic tutor Harpreet and his disfigured wife to the pictureperfect high-society Arminder and her superintendent husband Ramnath, she delves deeper and deeper into a cruel world where even the ties of family are meaningless. It isn’t long before she realizes that nothing is quite as it seems.

Behind the Sweetness and light Telegraph 
I cannot get over the shock and surprise I got while reading the novel. I have known Kishwar over many long years. She is always giggling, laughing and congenitally cheerful. I did not suspect that behind the façade of light-heartedness was concealed a morbid mind deeply concerned with the sordid realities of our lives. Highly readable.

Dreams die very young Financial Express
The passion reflects in the writing, and the tale was so clear that she finished writing it in a just a month. And, no, Desai did not provide the plot to the girl in Haryana, who in September last year was accused to killing seven members of her family, a narrative eerily similar to hers. “I almost passed out on reading that,” she says, shaking her head.

A Time to Kill Indian Express
Anger is essential to the book: Witness the Night begins with the protagonist Durga’s diary entries, describing the aftermath of the murders. Durga is writing an account for Simran Singh, a Delhi-based chain-smoking, whiskey drinking social worker who believes in her innocence and must unravel the events before the murders to get to the truth.

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