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Indian Novel Today


By Anant Gopal Sheorey
Vikas, New Delhi, 1978, pp 228, Rs. 9.50

By K. Sreenivasan
Arnold-Heinemann, 1978, pp. 159, Rs. 40.00

By Bhabani Bhattacharya
Macmillan, New Delhi, 1979, pp. 245, Rs. 9.00


The thing about book reviewing is that a reviewer can make personal remarks about authors and their works; the kind of remarks which, if .made about members of the public, could produce a libel suit or a punch on the nose. Reviewers write about books to have their reviews read. The surest way to attract the attention of readers is to run down a book. The thing to do is to run through it for lapses to hammer in your pet prejudices and pre-­phrased line of criticism. Experienced reviewers ought to be capable of pre­-writing review pieces that could make sense to those who have read the book as well as to those who are unlikely to read it. The books under review are not of a high literary standard, though one of them, A Dream in Hawaii, has been written by a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award. However the books have been written with a purpose—by those who are authors more by conviction than by profession. Discriminating readers may find Dusk Before Dawn tedious going. The script is cluttered with expendable words and inane snatches of dialogue. The plot is as racy as a push model entry in a vintage car rally. Billed as a novel of post-free­dom India, Anant Gopal Sheorey's Dusk Before Dawn is all about a small-town newspaper editor who runs into trouble with the establishment. The editor, a man of strong opinions and social conscience, suffers from a notion that without his newspaper the state would run the risk of becoming a heartland of corruption. He has a fondness for losing causes; his attitudes and intents are too lofty for accomplishment. The editor is blissfully out of touch with social reality. How else would one explain his insistence that the chief minister of his state should be a gentleman even in politics. The chief minister knows that in the rough and tumble of politics it is hard to be both a gentleman and successful. This potentially exciting theme has been handled so poorly that the effect is as explosive as a bag of sawdust. The glacier of empty words submerges the few creative peaks in the plot, flattening the literary landscape into pedestrian same­ness. The author, who has been a news­paper editor himself, does not state things; he editorializes them. Example: ‘News­papering is a dynamic business. It ...

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