‘From the land of lovers’ – the name indicates that it is a love story. It wouldn’t be a lie to term this as a love story but it is not an out-and-out love story. The love in the story travels between the alleys of pain, history, partition, losses, and an impeccable piece of literature.
Meditative, rooted in location yet filtered through nostalgia, in the land of the lovers is a masterfully woven fable with interlocking tales that explore struggle, loss, longing and love with brilliant insight and luminous prose.
The book is primarily literary fiction. The plot can be narrated in a single line- Nanaki, who lost her parents at a young age, was brought up by her grandparents who had to flee during the partition. She studies, grows up to be an artist, meets Himmat, falls in love and they together fight the double standards in the beaurocracy. The plot is as simple but the author has woven a complete book, page by page with literary finesse. The characters come out live in front of the readers with their idiosyncrasies so real that their readers would be engrossed in their meaningless actions.
Every instance is depicted with imagery that holds the reader to the words that flow out. It is not an easy read. If someone approaches the book lightly, just to go through the plot, it would be a disappointing piece. The book clearly targets readers who are specific about the literary value of what they read.
The life of Nanaki’s grandparents during the lockdown has been picked out of reality without losing the crux. The horror of partition has been depicted without losing the authenticity but the same has been accomplished alongside the details of the personal life of her Nanaji and Beeji. The relationship between Nanaki and Himmat was not given ample space to develop. Their fight against the rotten beaurocracy was also subdued under the imagery of what is happening around them. The book could have been lengthier with a much more developed romance.
We have heard about prose poetry. But I would say that this book is poetic prose.
It took me two weeks to read this 232-page long book as I used, read and re-read the same page over and over.