New novel depicts Punjab from 1930s to 60s
A new book serves as a window to Sikh faith and history of Punjab from the 1930s to the 1960s and traces the effects of colonialism, war, independence, and Partition on the northern state. Sohan S Koonar's "Paper Lions" also brings to focus marginalised and forgotten communities like the Bajigar nomads.
In its portrayal of realistic and complex Sikh characters, the novel spans four decades and is about three individuals and two families. Bikram, the only son of an impoverished family, enlists in the British Indian Army hoping to draw a modest income. But greed seduces him into wealth and violence, corruption, and a murky political career.
Basanti, a 12-year-old Bajigar girl, navigates fraught new boundaries with her nomadic clan to build life and home afresh. But destiny seems always stacked against her beauty and idealism - until one frighteningly triumphant moment in which she reclaims her fate. Ajit, the erstwhile landlord of a vast and thriving estate, also functions as the respected patriarch of a loving family. But tragedy strikes him in rapid succession; unmoored, he plunges into despair.
The lives of these characters intertwine in unexpected ways, playing out against a canvas of intricate family dynamics, class struggles, the drama of politics and manipulation, and the tumult of Partition. Publisher Speaking Tiger says Koonar writes a deft narrative of breath-taking tension: a riveting novel of deceit, calamity, intrigue, and resilience.
"As intimate in human drama as it is vast in scope, this is the big Punjab novel for our times," it says.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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