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Book Review: The Librarian by Kavitha Rao

By Mitali Chakravarty

The Librarian
Title: The Librarian
Author: Kavitha Rao
Publisher: Kitaab International Pte Ltd
Price: ₹ 299/-

 

 

The Librarian by Kavitha Rao is a novel that strolls through the old corridors of a library in Bombay, meanders through the lanes of London and returns to the dystopian world of the terrorist bomb blast that ripped Mumbai in 2008. Kavitha Rao has created a suspense-filled, layered story of a young girl’s passions, of the annihilation caused by uncontrolled obsessions and has unravelled the mystery behind the disappearance of Mrs. Sen, the assistant librarian. It has facts, romance, history, glamour, murder, robbery and gore, somewhat like a Dan Brown.

The protagonist, Vidya Patel, journeys through her childhood, guided in her passion for books by the intrepid librarian, Shekhar Raghavan. The library is also home to rare manuscripts; it reflects in microcosm a world in which Shekhar is the presiding deity. He supports Vidya when she rebels against her parents’ conservative Gujarati outlook and moves to a hostel for working women, trying to live life as she wants.

In London on a three-month scholarship, Vidya walks through the lanes of the city, visits the places frequented by authors and fictional characters, including 221b Baker Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes, and the grave of the famed English writer, George Eliot with its inscription of Mary Ann Cross. However, there is a discrepancy of a decade between the dates of George Eliot’s life span in the book and the ones inscribed on her grave. I wonder why… however, it is a minor detail in a story that spans larger societal concerns, where passions are unacceptable to ‘normal’ people and, left uncontrolled, can lead to fanaticism.

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Coming soon from Kitaab: The Librarian by Kavitha Rao

“The Librarian” is a dark, powerful novel that will appeal to everybody who has ever loved a book, or found happiness in a library.

Kitaab Singapore is pleased to announce its upcoming fiction title, The Librarian by Indian author Kavitha Rao. This is her first work of fiction.

The novel is slated to be launched at the Singapore Writers Festival 2017 in November.

Synopsis of the novel

“That was the beginning of my great love affair with the Macmillan, and my journey through the tangled, knotty forest of literature, with Shekhar, that most kindly and yet intimidating of guides.”

Ever since she could read, Vidya Patel realised that she preferred books to humans. Her family disapproves, but Vidya meanders through life with her nose in a book. When she is ten, she visits the Macmillan, a struggling heritage library in Mumbai. It is in the Macmillan that Vidya truly, finally, feels whole.

Vidya befriends Shekhar Raghavan, the brilliant, eccentric librarian, who becomes her mentor. As soon as she is old enough, she joins the library as a junior librarian, and throws herself into keeping the Macmillan going, with consequences she could never have foreseen. She also learns the destructive power of obsession, and what it does to people. Will Vidya be able to save the Macmillan? And at what cost?

“The Librarian” is a dark, powerful novel that will appeal to everybody who has ever loved a book, or found happiness in a library. Continue reading