December 2, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Book Review: The Forest Beneath the Mountains by Ankush Saikia

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Gopal Lahiri, a poet and critic reviews The Forest Beneath the Mountains by Ankush Saikia (Speaking Tiger, 2021) and calls it an invigorating novel.

  • ISBN: 978-93-90477-55-5
  • Published by: Speaking Tiger
  • Published in: March, 2021
  • Format: Pp- 318
  • Price: INR-499/-

The Forest Beneath the Mountains, written by Ankush Saikia, is an invigorating novel, sometimes delicately incongruous but told with utmost care. It is hard to think that it could be better done. Dropping deep into the forgotten corner of India’s north-eastern region, the writer blends memory, stories, death, ecology and history in a calm and assured manner. It’s the troubled locale and the story of the people that linger indelibly.

The novel interlaces themes of memory and repression in which the trauma of the past is deflected with boldness and a passion for understanding, as embodied by the young hero. It’s about search for ripostes of the unresolved death. It’s about multiple cultures, exploitation, self-dilution, corruption and inheritance. 

There are twenty-four chapters in the book. The author fills the pages of the book with a dizzying array of characters- foresters, contractors, police forces, insurgents, dealers, army man, doctor, journalist et al and references that, while sometimes informative and occasionally shifting realities, combine to a deadening effect. The novel is a coming-of-age story written in a very accessible style with descriptive imagery.

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