Despite producing fiction of a high order for over a decade, Neelum Saran Gour has not been in the spotlight, for some unaccountable reason. She has two solid short story volumes and this is her third novel. Surprising, this lack of critical acclaim.
Sikandar Chowk Park starts with a bang—a bomb goes off in a park, killing 57 people. A journalist, Siddhanta, tracks down 11 of the dead. He pieces together the detritus of their lives and 11 stories unravel across this fine novel. It needs considerable expertise to hold a dozen reins in your hands and still canter on without a falter. A rare sensibility is at work here—each character is delicately drawn, and they go about their humdrum lives in a way that is never tiresome. The events are plausible; there is no stereotyping, no sensationalism. And there’s an abundance of humour.