Book Review: Prelude To A Riot

Book Review: Prelude To A Riot

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The subject of this novel is controversial as the title suggests. There couldn’t be a more relevant topic as the current state of our country is in now. Many of you won’t agree with the statement I just made now. You might think everything is normal around you and there is nothing to worry about. Some of us are in denial and some are just oblivious. But that’s exactly the point this novel tried to make.

In a nutshell..

The story is set in an unnamed south Indian town amidst spice plantations. The lives of the people of this town are intertwined in some way or the other like any typical small town of India. People from different religions are living here for generations, yet some bigotry and prejudice rule some of their minds.

The older generation pollutes the mind of younger generations with their biased and entitled opinions and the younger generations suffer. Friends hurt each other and eventually become strangers. People get divided based on their food habits, languages they speak, and social status. The communal tension starts brewing. The politicians fuel the fire for their own benefits. Peaceful people turn polarized after some brainwashing. The powerful people start gathering weapons claiming it is for their self-defense. They claim the land belongs to them and everyone who doesn’t follow their religion or speak their language are invaders. The cheap migrant laborers are exploited by the estate owners and then persecuted or disposed of whichever deems fit to the powerful.

What I liked about the book

The story is a series of Soliloquies, an act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud, when by oneself or regardless of any listeners, especially by a character in a play. A brilliant way to narrate the story, in my opinion. Annie Zaidi gave equal importance to each and every character.

The pattern is very common everywhere. While the unease, the fear of losing the home, loved ones, own life starts lingering at one side of the invisible thread dividing the people, on the other side arrogance increases. Violence takes place at the slightest pretext. No one knows when it will turn into a riot.

What could have been better

The only complaint I have with this novel is that the story is scattered. One needs to pick the pieces to see the entire picture. It ends abruptly without telling how the lives have changed after the first violence took place. The author left it to our imaginations.

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