Book Review: Shikari by Yashwant Chittal

Book Name: Shikari

Author: Yashwant Chittal

Publisher: Penguin Random House India

Rating: 5/5

Book Blurb: Shikari opens a window to a fiercely competitive corporate world where it is often difficult to distinguish between the hunter and the hunted. As the story of Nagappa, framed for causing a fire in the company’s factory, unfolds, it reveals more than the underbelly of workplace politics.

Review: Its a shame really that such gems are translated so late and the modern Indian youth is not aware of such powerful writers. Shikari is a classic novel and even I had not heard of Yashwant Chittal before.

The story is pretty simple. Nagappa, a brilliant employee learns that he is being framed for a crime he did not commit. Given his precarious situation and few allies, he starts taking control of his life and comes out as the hunter instead of being hunted- thus the play on the word- shikari!

Life throws up unlikely heroes when pushed to the precipice and Nagappa realizes his shortcomings and his brilliance in his moment of reckoning. This is not a simple book where the plot is given away in the first few pages. The plot unfolds right till the end and you need to be patient enough to read it fully. I always say a book should unfurl like a movie with layers and imageries. It is fascinating that Chittal was brave enough to write about the corporate world and its intrigues at a time when private work-place affairs were not much well known in India.

The story is told through emotions and I can only imagine how hard it must be to translate such a unique work. The translator has risen up to the occasion and delivered a masterpiece though, at some places, I could feel the voice losing its finesse; but for the record am only criticising the translator here and not the author- Chittal. I dare not!

I have come across very few books that stay with you and leave you brooding long after you have read them. I read it on a long train journey and then read it again because the train was late. I am going to read it a third time- well because you never get such good books very often.

There is a need for more translated works from other vernacular languages of India. I remember reading the translated works of Manto after coming across them tucked away beneath my mother’s pillow- a life-changing experience for me. Perhaps, in some ways, so is Shikari!


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