Navtej Sarna’s book ‘Crimson Spring’ is a must read for all Indians – The New Indian Express

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Express press service

He is a dodgy reviewer who claims that a book should be read by everyone. That said, Crimson Spring by Navtej Sarna is essential reading for all Indians. It should be required reading in high schools and colleges; moreover, each reader should ideally distribute five copies to those who
lack access.

A book like this falls into the public domain perhaps once in a lifetime, combining flawless writing and thorough research around a historical event so significant it may never be forgotten. Not only the book
a masterclass in how historical fiction should be, the subject of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre comes to life in this tale, touching a submerged chord that makes each of us who we are today.

Historical fiction is a tightrope and far too few authors do the genre justice. Too often, the story is inaccurate or anachronistic, and the fiction almost unreadable. This book is first and foremost quality literary fiction underpinned by fine research from a master who treats his fictional protagonists with skill and sensitivity while hovering between the lines the horror of tragedy and its aftermath.
In tribute to those who were martyred in India’s bloody struggle for independence, this has been written with the lyricism, precision and passion of prayer. Nine lives were carefully selected, defined and made familiar in their human frailties and aspirations before being sent to their predetermined destiny at Jallianwala Bagh.

Intertwined, these lives underscore the magnitude of the tragedy and fill the reader with a sense of grief and blinding loss. It’s people like us––who try to do their best during the worst of times––and only by being in the right place at the wrong time meet their bloody fates. Among them, Lance Naik Kirpal Singh visits Amritsar after the Great War in much colder lands.

Using Indian soldiers for their wars abroad did not make the British any kinder to those who fought side by side with them in freezing trenches. Unrest in Amritsar disrupted rail service, forcing Kirpal Singh to complete the final leg of his journey perched on a farmer’s ox cart. He is looking forward to meeting his father and maternal uncle at Jallianwala Bagh on Baisakhi.

Through the eyes of young vakil, Gurnam Singh Gambhir, we watch the unrest as the resistance of the unfortunate population is suppressed by increasing cycles of violence. It is essentially a polyptych depicting Punjab in all its glory and detail. Often people’s past, present and future can be defined by a brief era, and Amritsar in the year 1919, outlined here in miniaturistic detail, allows for an instant understanding of an entire culture and its people, qu whether she is Sikh, Muslim or Hindu.

Deft touches to reconstruct history, even as we marvel at how much their lives resembled us. Heartbreaking imagery and finesse are reserved for the actual carnage as survivors and family members walk among the dying and dead to claim their own, numb in the immensity of what they witness. There is a term for it in Punjabi, ghallughara or holocaust that a benumbed Bhagwan Singh can hardly utter even when relating to Gurnam Singh the unspeakable.

The throbbing pulse of Punjab could only have been described so intimately by someone from the inside, comfortable with the way of life and familiar with intrinsic physical details such as the tiny remote villages of Tibba, Dharamsinghwala or Jutogh. It is to the credit of the author that the larger national narrative
has not been circumvented, including the words and deeds of Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore and the Ghadar movement, as well as Porter, Lloyd, the Rowlatt Act, O’Dwyer and Dyer, the Butcher himself . They occupy less space in the narrative, however: the lives of the British, the bloodlust of the Raj and some of his officers, and their human experiences, including the stillbirth of a baby girl from Chief Secretary Hugh’s wife. Porter, Milly, are also heavily engraved. .

Moving, powerful and written almost in the service of the nation, this book revives, as few books do, the recesses of collective memories. And Aleph Book Company always remains uncompromising in producing superlative literature as evidenced by this book.

He is a dodgy reviewer who claims that a book should be read by everyone. That said, Crimson Spring by Navtej Sarna is essential reading for all Indians. It should be required reading in high schools and colleges; moreover, each reader should ideally distribute five copies to those who do not have access to them. A book like this falls into the public domain perhaps once in a lifetime, combining flawless writing and thorough research around a historical event so significant it may never be forgotten. Not only is the book a masterclass in how historical fiction should be, but the subject of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre comes to life in this account, touching a submerged chord that makes each of us who we are today. . Historical fiction is a tightrope and far too few authors do the genre justice. Too often, the story is inaccurate or anachronistic, and the fiction almost unreadable. This book is first and foremost quality literary fiction underpinned by fine research from a master who treats his fictional protagonists with skill and sensitivity while hovering between the lines the horror of tragedy and its aftermath. In tribute to those who were martyred in India’s bloody struggle for independence, this has been written with the lyricism, precision and passion of prayer. Nine lives were carefully selected, defined and made familiar in their human frailties and aspirations before being sent to their predetermined destiny at Jallianwala Bagh. Intertwined, these lives underscore the magnitude of the tragedy and fill the reader with a sense of grief and blinding loss. It’s people like us––who try to do their best during the worst of times––and only by being in the right place at the wrong time meet their bloody fates. Among them, Lance Naik Kirpal Singh visits Amritsar after the Great War in much colder lands. Using Indian soldiers for their wars abroad did not make the British any kinder to those who fought side by side with them in freezing trenches. Unrest in Amritsar disrupted rail service, forcing Kirpal Singh to complete the final leg of his journey perched on a farmer’s ox cart. He is looking forward to meeting his father and maternal uncle at Jallianwala Bagh on Baisakhi. Through the eyes of young vakil, Gurnam Singh Gambhir, we watch the unrest as the resistance of the unfortunate population is suppressed by increasing cycles of violence. It is essentially a polyptych depicting Punjab in all its glory and detail. Often people’s past, present and future can be defined by a brief era, and Amritsar in the year 1919, outlined here in miniaturistic detail, allows for an instant understanding of an entire culture and its people, qu whether she is Sikh, Muslim or Hindu. Deft touches to reconstruct history, even as we marvel at how much their lives resembled us. Heartbreaking imagery and finesse are reserved for the actual carnage as survivors and family members walk among the dying and dead to claim their own, numb in the immensity of what they witness. There is a term for it in Punjabi, ghallughara or holocaust that a benumbed Bhagwan Singh can hardly utter even when relating to Gurnam Singh the unspeakable. The throbbing pulse of Punjab could only have been described so intimately by someone from the inside, comfortable with the way of life and familiar with intrinsic physical details such as the tiny remote villages of Tibba, Dharamsinghwala or Jutogh. It is to the author’s credit that the larger national narrative has not been circumvented, including the words and deeds of Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore and the Ghadar movement, as well as Porter, Lloyd, the Rowlatt Act, O’ Dwyer and Dyer, the butcher himself. They occupy less space in the narrative, however: the lives of the British, the bloodlust of the Raj and some of his officers, and their human experiences, including the stillbirth of a baby girl from Chief Secretary Hugh’s wife. Porter, Milly, are also heavily engraved. . Moving, powerful and written almost in the service of the nation, this book revives, as few books do, the recesses of collective memories. And Aleph Book Company always remains uncompromising in producing superlative literature as evidenced by this book.


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