Fractured, hidden lives in Neel Mukherjee's new novel

A Naxalite rebel motif weaves through Mukherjee’s seemingly fragmented lives A Freedom grows more urgent and compelling as it proceeds. In his novel, Neel Mukherjee conflates the themes his previous books, A Life Apart and the Man Booker-shortlisted Lives Others : the figure the Indian expatriate, educated in Europe, who finds himself a “tourist in his own country”; the ongoing revolutionary Maoist-Naxalite insurgency, which started in West Bengal and has been in conflict with the Indian government the late 1960s; and attempts by marginalised individuals to achieve self-determination despite the iniquities a vast, raucously messy society. It last element that has the greatest impact in a work exacting, tactically , interlinked narratives. Mukherjee, born in Calcutta in 1970, homes in on the restless, the disinherited, the socially trapped, insisting that a life dignity should be within their grasp, no matter how desperate the circumstances. Simultaneously, he subverts the expectations these protagonists who often, in last-ditch efforts to achieve autonomy, discover ultimately that what they most desire proves most confining. Mercilessly observant, he does not spare the reader but leavens scenes savagery, squalor and despair […]

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