Language: English
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9788122204674
Pages: 176
Price: 225 INR

The novel, ‘The Strange Case of Billy Biswas’ by Arun Joshi is unlike any other Indian Novel written in English in various ways. Some of them, I would say are the strangely captivating named title, engaging storyline and of course, the added mystery of the titular character, Billy Biswas.

The novel opens with a quick glimpse into the narrator’s present and then moves onto the past, specifically his encounters with Billy Biswas. How he met him, what happened after, the place where he lived while he pursued his Ph.D. (in Harlem) and the immediate consequences of Billy’s quest for understanding himself. What makes Billy do what he does when he has everything going for him – education, wealth, status and a loving wife? His inner world is shaken by growing discontent and dissatisfaction with his life and his restlessness grows gradually.

Being told from the perspective of his close friend, the book makes for an engaging and enjoyable ‘suspense thriller’ of answering the many mysteries that surround Billy Biswas. The narrator is a close friend of Billy and the novel allows room for him unveil some of the ambiguity and mystery that seems to surround Biswas.

The narrative happens in quick succession with great sophistication and élan. Joshi has presented us with a complex story line which engages the reader from the beginning, starting with his peculiar title, which gently coaxes us to find out what is so ‘strange’ with the protagonist of the story, Billy Biswas. Through Biswas, Joshi is able to incorporate a man of western ideas with Indian ideologies and is able to create a very Indian novel. The novel has a strong story and plot line with an equally strong and fascinating narrator who pulls you deep into the story and Billy.

Overall, I would say that this novel is highly mesmerizing and holds your interest until the very last word. Arun Joshi has taken his novels to another level and has created a memorable work with one of the most unforgettable characters. This book has become one of my personal favourites as it is a well rounded in all aspects – intrigue, a fascinating plot and a story which evolves through the course of the book and is not monotonous, three dimensional characters and excellent narration. Most of all, Joshi has made Western ideas such as existentialism very much Indian and has been able to answer many of the mysteriousness that shrouds his central character.

Rating: 8/10

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Pooja is an unusually quiet and quirky lady. She is gentle yet quick on her words. She loves her books and is a big fan of Harry Potter. Books are her besties and she loves them just as she loves her family and friends.