A few weeks back while in conversation with a very senior fellow book lover, I was commenting on the sudden boom in Indian Publishing arena. These days, being the author of a published book is considered a glamorous add-in to the personality and being a full time author, as a real profession. Numerous kinds of books- from travel to chick lit to paranormal to spy novels by Indian writers have started adorning the book shelves of stores. Authors are bravely experimenting with new kind of narratives with varied results. I have received many books by new Indian authors in last 2 years for reviewing and I would say regardless of their eventual success or failure, it is this experimentation that has made me excited and say yes to these books that are offered to me, the latest one being “End of Story?”.
End of Story? by Arjun Shekhar is a thriller told in the background of visual media and NGOs. It is narrated by Shukrat a news anchor of Khulasa, a news channel that serves sensational stories for ‘the bottom of the pyramid’. A nationwide ban on advertisements due to a new breakthrough in the field of manipulative subliminal ads has caused a decline of visual media and has rendered him jobless. His ex- boss Shh is murdered and the story is narrated through a document that he has prepared on the previous day of his hearing as a witness. His story starts with the day his daughter Q went missing. Slowly reader is made aware of his decaying family and professional life that is manipulated by his wife and boss and wife respectively. His wife leaves him due to his addiction to drinks, which she seems unable to bear. He is offered a chance to redeem himself when he is selected to cover the story about the ghost of a farmer in a debt ridden village in interior Maharashtra. He finds out there is more to it than what appears to eyes and is determined to uncover the truth causing a domino effect of events that wreaks havoc.
This novel is a bit dark, much humorous and thoroughly gripping. It may not be a thrilling or pleasurable experience throughout, but once the reader reaches the end, the built up of many sub plots becomes relevant. This makes the story enjoyable. The characterization of the protagonist, Shukrat is top notch. His transformation from a weak, manipulated man to someone who is prepared to go deep to find the truth is effectively told, devoid of any heroics. Other characters, most of who portrayed very colorfully when compared to the dull Shukr, supports the plot adequately and keeps the reader interested in the proceedings,
which turn slow at times. The chapters of the book are headed as questions, thereby stressing the importance of inquisitiveness in every aspect of life, which is the moral that I feel the author wants to convey.
End of Story? Written by Arjun Shekhar and published by Hachette India is an interesting read due to the relevance of its plot to the contemporary issues and also due to the plotting and narration that is quite thrilling.