Saturday, January 09, 2021

Review- Patna Blues by Abdullah Khan

                                                                    BOOK SUMMARY:

Arif is the son of a sub-inspector in Patna. His once prosperous landowning family has slipped low down the class ladder. Arif ’s sole ambition in life is to crack the civil service examination and become an IAS officer. He believes this will restore the family’s fortunes and works hard at his studies.

Until his first glimpse of Sumitra, a voluptuous long-haired beauty. Married, Hindu and several years older than him, she is wrong for him in every way. It is the beginning of an infatuation that will consume his life.

‘Reading Patna Blues is like pedalling your way through a littleknown India. It is certain to fill you with inexplicably candid and absolutely stunning tales. Patna Blues marks an impressive debut and brings us an important voice.’
—Anees Salim

‘I am familiar not only with the places where this novel is set, the cramped rooms, the names of shops, or the streets, but, it seems to me, even the people, their little joys, their struggles, their often irrational hopes and desires, their guilt, and their beauty. Part literary novel, part-pulp fiction, Patna Blues is a report from a rarely seen world in Indian writing in English, the contemporary lives of provincial Muslims.’
—Amitava Kumar 

Release date: 31st August 2018
Published by: Juggernaut
Page numbers: 296


I take pride in proclaiming my love for reading books that focus on Muslim families and Islam in general, but Patna Blues made me realise that I haven’t read many books that revolve around an Indian Muslim family. This was an eye opener which helped me understand the struggles of a lower middle class Indian household and gave me a fast paced yet meticulous glimpse into the bustling and wondrous city of Patna which has me tempted to visit it. This was a perfect book because it had everything I look for in one- in-depth glimpses into places, mentions of appetising food, importance of family and friends with the right amount of drama that makes it believable, a romance cooking on the sidelines, poetry, incredible character development and a plot that kept me engrossed.

Patna Blues is the story of Arif Khan who struggles day in and day out to fulfil his loving Abba’s dream of seeing his son become an IAS officer. From his childhood to adulthood, we follow this hardworking, respectable, at times unconventional and incredible man as he keeps trying to make it big while life keeps testing him. Living with his family of eight stupendously developed characters added charm and profundity to the novel. Arif falls in love with an elder Hindu woman who he can’t let go of. The way this romance was portrayed was so impressive that even though it screams wrong from the get-go, it seemed right, even to the reader. That’s when you know you have stumbled upon a gem.

Abdullah Khan has written a charming and terrific novel, many parts of which reminded me of the works of Khaled Hosseini. The writing was ravishing and the storytelling so sensational, it made me want to keep reading the book. Although Patna Blues perfectly well for me, I see how some readers would be unsatisfied with it. I, for one, was left teary-eyed and smiling at the same time- which is magical. The minute I laid my eyes on this book, I knew I had to read it without even knowing the title or the author, so when I was contacted me to review it, I was overwhelmed. What a wonder it is when a book ends up being more than what you thought it’d be!

If you have admired The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, or if like to read about Muslims, or you love to read about someone who is way different from you yet you have a deep connect with on a personal level and if you love to explore literature from different parts of India, do consider picking this one up.

Note: A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. We thank them for the same.

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