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The Man Who Lost India by Meghna Pant

Buy the book here: https://amzn.in/d/1IaKE5c

My take on the book:

The year is 2032 and India has been occupied by China, the entire country except Lalbag. China has been hit with extreme drought and they started colonizing all Asian countries to capture the rivers and other water resources. Lalbag, one of Punjab’s smaller towns witnessed a miracle on the night of Maha Shivrathri when the Shiv Linga shielded the town from the bomb dropped by the Chinese.

Four years later, in 2036, the Chinese are still stationed outside Lalbag waiting for an opportunity to invade it. The administration of the Chinese is in effect everywhere else in India and the Chinese cops patrolled the town, listened into all communication, mercilessly killing anyone who tried to flee or went against their rules. Seth, the richest man in Lalbag resigned to his destiny of living under the constant scrutiny of the Chinese but hoped his family could flee to Israel which was offering asylum to Indians.

Marrying his daughter Ida, the most beautiful girl in town, to the son of the second richest man is the only hope Seth had, as an avenue to arrange for an escape route for his daughter and hence his family. But Ida was in love with Manu, son of the family that served as Seth’s live-in servants from his father’s generation.

When this secret affair of Manu and Ida is unexpectedly revealed to a Chinese cop, Manu’s life is under threat — either give up his and his families’ lives or surrender to the Chinese the secret that has been guarding the town. Will Manu give up on the town’s welfare to safeguard himself and will the last Indian town fall, forms the rest of the story.

The author’s imagination of a dystopian world that is not set too far in the future (less than a decade from now) coupled with vivid description of a fictional world actually seems real. During the COVID-19 lockdowns the limitations on movement has already been experienced by everyone, so parts of this story reminded me of life from the lockdown days.

The story however majorly focuses on war and its effect on common people, what colonization and living like slaves in your own country looks like. Lovers cannot run away from their families to get married secretly, patients with life threatening diseases had to die due to lack of facilities. Reality is mixed with sarcasm when Chinese culture is forced on Lalabag’s residents.

The supernatural and mythical elements are well mixed by the author into the narration. Few details shared in the first half of the story are tied up by the author towards the climax, so even minor details mentioned in the initial parts have significance in the overall story. After the initial shock the author creates in the story, the middle parts drag at places. Also, the story revolves only around this town, which gets monotonous so adding threads from around the country would have added more interest.

Dystopian has never been a genre I preferred reading, but that opinion changed with this story, and I am definitely going to read more stories in this genre. If socio-political dystopian novel with supernatural elements set in the Indian context sounds like an interesting theme, then do pick this one.

My rating:


This review is part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program.