First of all, let’s begin with the joy of discovering a novel that may just surprise you… leave you in awe and compelled to rethink different aspects of the storyline, the characters and more. Do you agree? Indeed, the allure of discovering novels that captivate, surprise, and deeply engage readers is a cherished aspect of being a book lover. Such literary gems have the power to transport us to new worlds, challenge our perceptions, and evoke a range of emotions. I admit, in the very beginning, that Arvind Rishi’s work, The Brown Sunshine, was one such read for me… a rare read that occasionally decorates the reading table of a book lover (in several months). It was a novel that kept me involved, alarmed, alert and conscious without a single moment of casual approach that I could show to the book. Compelling, fascinating and too peculiar, to be honest!
The novel brings to readers a very peculiar, strange and yet compelling character – Antony Viswas. He is the protagonist of the novel. He has a circle of friends which includes Arora, Abhimanyu, Megha, and Helix. He is basically from Jamshedpur and lives in Bangalore. He loves Catherine who resides alongside him. So, initially, the character looks like a common being and you may find no excitement… unless you start understanding the urges, the conundrums and the overall appearance of Anthony.
The Main Event: At the centre of the novel, there lies an event that changes all the suppositions and brings the excitement quotient into the storyline. There was a school trip heading towards Darjeeling. A fight took place among the group. Shivam and Mayank take on an entire group by themselves. Somehow the fight reconciled and the tour continued. However, things get completely baffling when the trip reaches the top of the hill… Biswas, the protagonist, remembers many things that others just did not remember! He remembered to have fallen unconscious, and seeing Shivam and Prakriti falling off the cliff. Arora’s throat was slit and they were rushing towards the hospital. After a few hours, Arora was kidnapped and once they found him Arora was lobotomised by Bade Sahab, the Acharya, and eventually he died within a few days.
Biswas’ Journey: Biswas was feeling guilty for all this. Moreover, there was something else that completely baffled him. There was a mystery that nobody remembered the deaths of Shivam, Prakriti and Natasha. Biswas was in love with Natasha and he always tried to find the truth behind all this. And that took him to the eye of the storm, once again. He headed towards Darjeeling once more in search of all the answers he was looking for. He became the Acharya of the Shunya, a hidden secret society that believes in working for the God of nature and battling the dark forces. He got the answer of mysterious deaths that all were taken away by dark forces. He was loving his powers… the newly found ones! However, there were many things that he could not understand… or just tried to ignore. Where will these powers lead him? What might become of Anthony? His character may be the single powerful driving force that carries away the story on its own.
The novel’s protagonist, Biswas, navigates a tumultuous journey between reality and reverie, a plight that is skillfully woven through the pages with commendable language. This linguistic prowess, however, is both a blessing and a curse, as the complex thematic threads might prove intricate for the younger generation of readers to fully grasp. Nevertheless, the powerful story, with a mixing of secrets and adventure may keep readers indulged in the storyline. I felt the same. The core of the novel centres around Biswas’ tragic loss of love, a scenario that unfolds twice with an agonising twist: each time, it is his closest friend who wins the affection of his beloved. This recurring misfortune propels Biswas into a whirlpool of guilt, a consciousness that keeps him perpetually trapped between the conflicting forces of living and dreaming. The enigmatic demise of his friends during a school trip to Darjeeling acts as a fulcrum around which his life pivots. With the scent of mystery hanging in the air, Biswas embarks on a relentless quest for answers, unearthing secrets that were meant to remain buried. The success of this narrative lies in the interplay between introspection and exploration.
To read or not to read?
The Brown Sunshine is a new experiment… with more passion and an arguable fine balance that keeps the novel in motion. The language is simple enough for mature and experienced readers. However, the monotonous lanes that this story might travel through, at times, may sway the readers away, albeit briefly. Overall, this is a novel that might change the perception of readers about many things they see around themselves. Swinging between reality and perplexing versions of the truth, The Brown Sunshine by Arvind Rishi offers many hours of entertainment, interrogation and self-search…. and you should not miss these details! Get a copy today and enjoy reading this promising author now!
Review by Amit for Indian Book Critics