July 26, 2020
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Just For A Lard

Thukral has attemped to follow in the footsteps of Swift and Orwell by writing a satirical allegory, and he has failed.

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Just For A Lard
illustration by Jayachandran
Just For A Lard
The Chronicler's Daughter
By Kishore Thukral
Ravi Dayal Pages: 359; Rs 300
Allegorical novels are not easy to write. This may explain why very few people write them. Offhand I can only think of two authors who have done so successfully. One was Dean Swift, who wrote Gulliver’s Travels. The other, George Orwell, produced Animal Farm and 1984. The two men inhabited different centuries. They were alike in that they both suffered much hardship and illness in their lives. This embittered Swift. The human weaknesses he raged at in the 18th century were exactly the same as those that Orwell attacked 200 years later; but Orwell was a committed liberal, and a gentler person than Swift.

The Chronicler’s Daughter is a first novel. Its author, Kishore Thukral, is 40 years old, and an investment consultant. As a profession, this would have equally repelled Swift and Orwell. Thukral has attempted to follow in their footsteps by writing a satirical allegory, and he has failed. This kind of book, to be at all successful, requires a light, deft touch and a style that contains what is now called black humour. This, in the two masters, conveys their rage for justice and their disillusionment and disgust at the ways of the world. Their plots are as simple as fairy tales, but fairy tales in which ignorance and evil always prevail.

Thukral’s story is about a country called U-Belly, where everyone is fat. A council of geriatric Wise Men rules it. A Chronicler records its horribly uneventful history. The U-Bellians are all contented, except for the Chronicler’s daughter who is called C No 1. Thukral’s habit of naming his characters by numerals and letters of the alphabet, or calling them Elder or Younger would be a serious flaw in other books. Here too many other flaws overshadow it. To cut a long, tedious story short, C No 1 starts a revolution and becomes the leader. U-Belly then falls prey to a larger nation, Megalomanya, which curiously resembles the US.

There is no point in offering more details of the plot. It is adipose, stuffed with irrelevant characters, and is not uplifted by the ponderous quality of the style. They combine till the book meanders shakily to a conclusion that touches neither the mind nor the heart, not unlike an elephant with Parkinson’s disease.

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