World war stories excite me. A lot of literature penned during these times and about these times is worth studying. Never among equals by Fazle Chowdhury is a World War I story.
The book opens up introducing two characters – Firoze and Takeshi. They have been lads from affluent families and have completed their education. Takeshi has been called back to his country and is packing up to leave. Firoze, on the other hand, loves London very much and decides to go against the wishes of his family and stay back. His decision to stay back and endure the financially challenging situations, join British army and then face repercussions is nothing short of a classic movie.
This book follows a the old school narrative by giving readers sumptuous descriptions and less of dialogues. The author intricately details Firoze’s lifestyle and the consequences. One can look at it as a coming-of-age novel. What doesn’t wilt is the protagonist’s determination. Firoze succeeds then fails, goes through rigorous times and then scales the success ladder yet again.
What’s worth looking out for in this book is the Gatsby-esque vibes it gives in the initial phases. Moving on you see the life of a soldier from close quarters. Most of the World War literature gives a birds eyes view. This one peeps into the hollows of the War and the aftermath. The author brilliantly brings out the health issues that prevailed amongst the warriors and prisoners of war. The common themes seen in the book were violence and depleted mental health. Alongside the author brought out the themes of bigotry, dysfunctional family, racism quite well in the novel. There is an air of suspicion lurking throughout the novel. And the author brings it to a closure well towards the climax. Rather, when it comes to climax you don’t see it coming.
The only suggestion I would love to make here is that there are multiple characters in this book and a character map would help the readers absorb the story better.
Last word – This book is a good specimen if you wish to study The Lost Generation.
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