Indian writings in English is all set to claim its space as the literature of the urban masses. The Strongman’s Daughter is an incomparable achievement that would certainly remain an important work of fiction portraying the lives of people within an urban setting.
Aditi Narvekar is the daughter of a political tycoon who rules Goa. Peeling off layers in the story, the reader may discover and look straight into the shades of the age-old traditional narratives of India like the Mahabharatha and Ramayana. What’s uniquely Indian about The Strongman’s Daughter is also what’s uniquely political about those great epics—the conflicts inherent in human relations.
This conflict has two dimensions to it. One is the political struggle for power. The other is the personal quest for liberation. Both these dimensions are blended in the great epics of India. The Strongman’s Daughter works on the same paradigm. This gives it the texture of Indianness, even though universality is at its thematic base.
Aditi Narvekar is introduced in the very first scene. The protagonist arrives by airplane, in a scene ‘similar to those cheesy Hindi movies of the sixties, when the hero (or heroine) returned home after a stint in vilayat’” (9). However, one learns quickly that this is not the reality Aditi wants for herself.
The reality weighed down upon Aditi by her father’s influence is not the home she wants to inhabit. The world she visualizes for herself does not have limiting walls. Vithalrao Narvekar, Chief Minister of Goa is too busy to have a meaningful relationship with his daughter. He is busy with his political life. His political life is not complete without all the glamour and power he enjoys. His daughter, though, covets for meaning in life. This is where The Strongman’s Daughter deviates from a regular adventure story of a new-adult young woman, in her twenties. The Strongman’s Daughter is indeed the story of a young woman in her twenties, but it is also more than that. The Strongman’s Daughter is a novel that explores the meaning of relationships and life, through the tumultuous journey of Aditi Narvekar.
The chapters that lead to the final showdown are inspiring as well as entertaining. With her constant purpose and courage, Aditi’s character stands as a fully developed and powerful model for future writers to explore. Readers would find this novel as an enriching experience of exploration into the human psyche. Goa is a place Aditi despises. However, she finds love in Goa in the form of Raj Dias. Aditi’s quest for personal liberation becomes a journey of love as well.
The Strongman’s Daughter is Madhuri Iyer’s second novel. She is also an advertising copywriter. She has written an online novella named Pink Champagne. Her first novel Manhattan Mangoes was a success. Madhuri Iyer is also writing a screenplay for Manhattan Mangoes.
The Strongman’s Daughter is published by Finger Print Publishers who did a commendable job with the interior as well as cover design. Rarely do readers get to see Indian publishers showing interest in choosing the right font for their books. The Strongman’s Daughter comes with a highly reader-friendly font. The matt finish of the cover portrays the waves of Goa blending the theme of the book with a subtle thematic picture.
Madhuri Iyer’s language in The Strongman’s Daughter comes through as an achievement in itself. Her lucid prose narrative brings to the forefront the subtle agonies of her protagonist, Aditi Narvekar.
The Strongman’s Daughter is also a rare work of the anthropocene era. The major conflict in the book focuses on the interaction between two poles: man and nature.
Accumulation of man-made waste products and its cleaning is told with the backdrop of Goa a political struggle. The unraveling of the human condition within relationships is also woven around this action.
The Strongman’s Daughter is a compelling book to read and to ponder.
Author: Madhuri Iyer
Release: December 2016
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
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