Foreign, a novel by Sonora Jha, is an absolutely spellbinding book. It’s a novel which is written in third person point of view and may be this is the eminent fact that has gripped in me so much that I cannot let go off it.
Coming back to the book, it offers the reader a tale of Dr. Katya who is celebrating her book’s success with her fiancé in Seattle. She receives a phone call all the way from Mumbai. It’s a call which forces her to leave to a country which made her impose self exile. She has come back to India, in search of her son, Kabir, who eloped from his paternal grandparents’ house, to meet his father Ammar Chaudhary, whom he has never met. Ammar is a selfless social activist who is living in Vidharbha, at Maharashtra. It’s a rural area besotted with its farmer’s committing suicides every eight hours. He is there to save the farmers and help them from their ill fate. Katya is contemptuous about her motherland for it has given her many scars and she had to leave India because the society disapproves of nurturing a child out of the wedlock. She has to return to find Kabir. Her mind is jostled with questions for why did Kabir want to meet Ammar, what might have provoked him to take this step.
When Katya reunites with Kabir, why did she stay back with Kabir and why didn’t she return to Seattle? How will Katya be able to cope up with the betrayal when she has to stay in spite of having deal to with Ammar’s presence? What made her to ally with the farmer’s wife Gayatribai, who risked her life and her sanity to save Kabir’s life? Why did Gayatribai, who suffers from a lung cancer, request Katya to save her husband, Bajirao’s life from the suicide plague? Will Katya be able to save Bajirao’s life? Will Katya rekindle her love with Ammar? Will Katya be able to take Kabir away from the world that is whipped with violent protests, rallies, mass weddings, ignominious suicides?
This book is a reflection of the Indian political system which has numerous loopholes and always shows its back to the minority. It speaks about the famer’s plight when they are abandoned from their rights. The subject is very powerful and the way the fiction is weaved around it is very intriguing. The novel is rich with its descriptive and narrative style of writing. In addition it is rich with the farmer’s way of life and the Indian culture (Beholding guest as a God). The politics, the love, the drama, the death, the betrayal, the loss of one’s land and the cruelty that reign the minor sections of this society is something that engulfs the reader. I really loved reading this book. It’s a must read book. I received this book from the publisher to review it and I am glad I accepted it.
My verdict for the debut novel by Sonora Jha is definitely flying off with 5/5.
(c) Reviewed by Sridevi Nayak Karopady