Gautam Bhatia is a well-known figure in the world of science fiction as the editor of award-winning magazine Strange Horizons. While reviewing The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction Volume 2, I came across an amazing space opera story, The List’ by Mr. Bhatia about the homogenization of a human society. Thus, the debut novel of Gautam Bhatia ‘The Wall’ was the obvious choice to feed the hunger of a science fiction reader.
Let us see whether The Wall has lived up to the expectation.
The author takes his own sweet time to tell this saga of revolution in a farfetched land of Sumer. The book comes up with a map (have a close look) which shows a city surrounded by a wall. The Sumerian society is matriarchal in nature and quite liberal when it comes to homosexual relationships but the citizens might face issues with free speech and free thinking. The society comprises mandalas (an allusion to caste-based society) there are different mandalas and the population in the first five mandalas are considered to be the elite ones of Sumer. The citizens are bound by the laws of Sumerian society where they receive protection and enough food to survive. All they need to do is abide by the rules and never ever think of what is there on the other side of the wall and if you think you can cross the wall, well well…….
But there is always a free thinker, the one who dares to dream, Mithila tries to do the rebellious job and what happens next is the crux of the story. The plot line is simple and it will remind of some of the classics (check out the works of Tery Patcher, Roger Zelazny and obviously Le Guin) but what makes this book a sure winner is the linear structure, the ample use of metaphors, the love- hate relationships between friends, some dark secrets among them and obviously the subtle hints of what could be coming up in next few pages among others.
The Wall is a layered read which reveals something unique in each level. The notion of good people and bad people somewhat dissolve into a world of gray characters. The readers are going to enjoy the constant clash of ideologies between the orthodox Shoortans (a group of priests headed by the matriarch Soma) and a squad of rebels, Tarafians, which is headed by Mithila. The author builds a curious world of few curious young rebels and while doing so he provides scholastic elements about philosophies, ancient Hindu cultural aspects and commentaries about capitalist, socialist and lastly communist theories.
The Wall by Gautam Bhatia scores heavily in its experimental ways of storytelling, world built up, developments of both major as well as minor characters and lastly the high engagement quotient of the readers. Don’t wait, grab a copy and find out whether Mithila was able to cross the wall, if yes how? and if no, why?
Linear Plot Structure
Experimental as well as balanced storytelling
Nuances of social commentary
The Map of Sumer
Do not neglect the art of Book Cover; it could have been a much better one. It is the first thing which attracts the reader.Tags: Debraj Moulick, Gautam Bhatia, The Wall, আলোচনা, দেবরাজ মৌলিক, সপ্তম বর্ষ তৃতীয় সংখ্যা