Book Review by Namrata
Title: Wild Boar in the Cane Field
Author’s Name: Anniqua Rana
Publisher: Amazon, 2019
‘My mothers found me a week after I was born.’
And so, begins the poignant story of Tara’s birth, her survival and her death. Anniqua Rana’s Wild Boar in the Cane Field is a testimony to the old adage — survival of the fittest. Her observations of life of women in rural Pakistan combined with her knack of storytelling, ensures a reader is left enthralled.
Anniqua Rana lives in California with her husband and two sons. Apart from teaching English to immigrants and international students in community college, she also writes essays on gender and education.
Rana’s novel, Wild Boar in the Cane Field, journeys rural Pakistan where amidst the cane fields and smell of spices, we are introduced to Tara and her mothers. The prose is evocative and lyrical with descriptions that come alive in every passage.
“I hurriedly finished the verse, not sure that I had the strength to continue my pursuit of finding my way into a world designated for men.”
The story starts with the birth of Tara and takes us through the journey of her growing up. It can easily be called a coming of age story set in rural Pakistan with its flavors and fragrances intact. Rana has a drawn extremely powerful images with her engrossing narrative and presented a beautifully layered story with characters that tease your memory. Though the setting is in Pakistan with plenty of of local references in terms of culture and tradition, it wouldnot be wrong to say this story could easily have been a part of any South Asian sub-continental village and still remain so connectable. The patriarchal system has dictated female lives for centuries and this story is an honest depiction of what all a woman goes through in such a misogynistic society.
The title clearly reminiscent of the societal norms one has to go through as a woman, is a stark reminder of the damage the animals cause. Metaphorically wild boars are supposed to ruin crops. So, while the cane field here stands for a woman’s life, fertile and reproductive sharing its sweet fruits the wild boar is the blind beliefs and traditions which bind a woman and threaten to ruin her life, beyond repair.
“We sat in silence until the bidi was finished. Somethings shuffled beneath the chameli bush. The white buds would bloom the next morning. Through the haze in darkness, they look like flies in the white from funeral shrouds.”
Anniqua Rana’s words echo long after the book is over as one mourns over the losses faced by her characters in the course of the narrative. The emotions are intense and extremely powerful. One can find oneself cheering for Saffiya and Bhaggan as they battle their way through a painful existence, riddled with blind beliefs and superstition.
In a compelling turn of events, Rana also brings in a hint of magical realism as she talks about the tiny, yet ambiguous area where tradition meets modernity. Divided into five portions, this book is a treat to devour from start to finish. Everything about it is vivid. Starting with the enticing cover to the inner layout, Rana ensures everything adds to the theme of the story.
On one hand the complex relationship between the characters interwoven with their individual struggles paints a picture of utter disarray while on the other hand their joy, however short-lived, is infectious. Despite the sadness that prevails in the life of the protagonist, the narration is filled with hope and determination. The struggle the lead characters go through is heart-breaking and yet their heroism makes you smile. She has captured the nuances of life in rural areas for women exceptionally well, reminding one of classics and their ability to transport a reader. The trials and tribulations of people living in such areas are highlighted in a manner that they are bound to move the reader and at the same time, leave an indelible mark.
The ending is astounding with a surprise twist which suddenly makes you see the story in a new light. The feudal system rampant in the story, unfortunately rings true till date. Mixing fiction with facts, Wild Boar in the Cane Field is a heady concoction of real events and their fictitious conclusions which speak volumes about Rana’s prolific writing prowess. With this, she has made a stellar debut that leaves the reader asking for more.
Reviewer’s Bio: Namrata is a lost wanderer who loves travelling the length and breadth of the world. She lives amidst sepia toned walls, fuchsia curtains, fairy lights and shelves full of books. When not buried between the pages of a book, she loves blowing soap bubbles. A published author she enjoys capturing the magic of life in her words and is always in pursuit of a new country and a new story. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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