Saturday, December 15, 2018

Book Review - Hungry Gods by Richa Lakhera

Hungry Gods by Richa Lakhera is a complete novel with escapes against time to ensure salvation and find answers. Evil is in each of us. To explore this terrifying idea, the novel follows the parallel lives from beginning to end, and has adrenaline, death, sex, and tragedy. In each page Richa sends rabid bites for each one of her readers.

So we find ourselves catapulted into the dark world made of perversion, masochism and submissions. As for the characters we find Este, of whom only the essential traits are marked, as if she is the client of passage. Then appear other characters such as the superstar Neville Valentine, Ranganathan, Dinesh Thackrey, of whom we know little or nothing, but who still go to close the circle of characters.

There is Inspector Dorab Silva, a harsh, cynical, surly and unfriendly man, loyal to his intuition and to his work. The underlying issues that are felt are related to the crimes which has been witnessed often over the years. In practice each character has a physical or emotional handicap. This leads to a sort of spiral from Dante's inferno where everything is even more corrupt, and more hopeless with a background of suspicion, hallucinations, sex and drugs.

The episodes attempt a conciliation and then trial of the lives of the characters, intertwining with their personal stories, the many skeletons in the closet, the relationship of each with violence, suffered, observed or inflicted, their honesty, pushing them - individually and in secret - in front of a mirror.

Each portrait is traced with cruel precision, but also with a good dose of piety and benevolence. Yet even if this tsunami is overcome there unleash blows and kickbacks and in the end everything is absorbed. The carnival of sex, violence, secrets, alcohol, drugs, and half confessions will resume with the same desperate cheer.

None of the characters deviates from the claustrophobic and bourgeois sexophobic morality. That model has been completely introjected, however blatantly transgressed. Nobody shows serious intentions to try to demolish it, and affirm a new one.

Some residual hope the author seems to give it to us in the last chapter, dedicated to the young Este, struggling with the construction of her field of values. Overcoming the betrayals and the idealization, she is looking for a personal ethic, a light and translucent elastic that can keep her standing without weighing her down.

Her views, dancing in a crescendo manages to excite her innocence. Her romanticism touches us. It can be said that Richa succeeds, scandalizing and amusing the reader, although the attack does not appear so sharp and fierce, slipping at the end, in a sort of melancholy and nostalgia.

The character of Este is the emblem of abandonment, of loneliness that hurts and that often accompanies situations of profound discomfort. The reader may feel annoyed before the human and social tragedy that hides within each character of this story.

The reader could also feel anger in front of the ferocious cruelty described in some pages. But, the reader cannot help but devour this story in a very short time, so raw and strong as it is stripped of any hypocrisy and good-will.
In the small ecosystem created by Richa Lakhera everything, in the end, seems to keep together and softly turn on the track of a shared moral, well-oiled by a generous dose of hypocrisy. There is past and present violence, betrayals, private vices, as alcohol, sex and drugs flow.

In every chapter, guilt and sexual excitement seem to be the main engines that move the characters. They appear to us almost like children left alone at home and at the same time excited to the paroxysm and frightened by their freedom. They are insecure, hedonists, and inconclusive.

The blatant violence under the eyes of all, seems to have the power to temporarily put that fragile but perfect balance at risk. As if to say that everything is permissible, provided that it is carried forward discreetly or, at least, cloaked in a glamorous patina.

A single gesture carried out under the sun, rough and shameless in intention, unjustifiable but also profoundly human, constitutes a threat to the status quo. It must be stigmatized, analyzed, passed to the scrutiny of the law, of the family, and of interpersonal relationships.

The most unnerving aspect of the matter is that immediately it is clear that it will not be possible to avoid taking a position. In addition, Richa gives a meticulous description of a universe that may appear to us all roses and flowers, but that actually has its demons hidden behind the corners.

The style is fluid, sometimes raw, and incisive. Each page is imbued with darkness, a shadow of malaise that crawls under the skin of the protagonists, almost as though squeezing them into a lethal embrace.

The story is intense and has pain in every word and has the tension and all the narrative tricks, but it is also a novel that has sweat on its pages. It has the skin of its dead and the rage of its characters. The book is destined to let the readers get excited thanks to its incandescent mixture of sex and crime, within a splendid frame.

The author's way of writing is original and interesting where every single detail fits perfectly with everything else. The book never bores, but on the contrary, it manages to capture the reader in a crescendo of curiosities chapter by chapter, page after page. It is absolutely a thriller to read for all lovers of the genre.

The author, thanks to her ability, manages to maintain a very high pace throughout the length of the book. The pages of the book is full of rhetorical figures, symbols, metaphors, anaphors, similes, propose complex moral dilemmas, rough arguments, ethical themes which impose profound reflections.

Book Review - Hungry Gods by Richa Lakhera
Beautiful are the many descriptions, strongly suggestive of the moods of the characters. The in-depth description to the characters who, for their psychological and existential complexity were analyzed and presented in the least details with greater slowness, in such a way as to render the hard and cruel story to the reader more digestible and sensible, as only life, in cases of extreme violence and abandonment, can be.

The risk which is worth running, however, even for the pure pleasure of a good read is to find myself closing a novel like the slap with a sigh and a bitter, inconclusive reflection. It was better when it was worse or, at most, it was the same.

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Kalyan Panja
Kalyan Panja is a photographer and a travel writer sharing stories and experiences through photographs and words