Book Review: ‘Chronicle of an Hour and a Half’ by Saharu Nusaiba Kannanari

Powerful, disturbing and gripping!

Book Title: Chronicle of an Hour and a Half
Author: Saharu Nusaiba Kannanari
Publisher: Context
Number of Pages: 212
ISBN: 978-9360458096
Date Published: Jan. 8, 2024
Price: INR 395

Chronicle of an Hour and a Half by Saharu Nusaiba Kannanari Book Cover

Book Review

Saharu Nusaiba Kannanari’s debut novel, “Chronicle of an Hour and a Half,” explores the disturbing depths of mob mentality and the decline of human liberty in a society regulated by strict moral norms. The debate over ownership of women’s bodies persists, highlighting the historical lack of agency women have had over their own bodies and minds. In this novella, this issue is starkly portrayed through a harrowing narrative of mob lynching in an imaginary village.

Despite the short time frame of the incident and the constant rain, the psychological depth of the characters and their actions leave a chilling impact on the reader. Through multiple points of view, the novel skillfully delves into the complexities of human behavior, presenting a bouquet of enduring psychological dimensions rather than offering solutions. As the story unfolds, it navigates through the darkest corners of human minds, peeling off layers of morality and exposing the intricacies of thought processes.

The story unfolds in the rain-drenched village of Areekode in Kerala, where whispers of an illicit affair between Reyhana and Burhan, both Muslims, ignite a chain of events that culminate in tragedy. Kannanari masterfully captures the complexity of human emotions as Reyhana, a mother of two, navigates the suffocating confines of societal expectations and patriarchal scrutiny. Through Reyhana’s defiance of societal norms and Burhan’s clandestine visits, the author exposes the hypocrisy and misogyny that underlie the veneer of moral righteousness.

The individuals’ connected lives are central to the story, with everyone dealing with their own wants, regrets, and societal constraints. Kannanari depicts a wide range of viewpoints with compassion and complexity, from Reyhana’s unashamed pursuit of love to Burhan’s fight against traditional restraints. Through vivid characterizations such as Panchami’s defiance and Nabeesumma’s divided loyalties, the novel portrays a sad image of characters caught in the crosscurrents of societal change.

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Chronicle of an Hour and a Half” by Kannanari is a disturbing critique of mob mentality and the loss of human autonomy in a mass frenzy. The novel explores the frailty of morality and the ease with which ordinary people may become violent. Against the backdrop of state-sanctioned monitoring and moral policing, it serves as a timely warning of the risks of unbridled power and the need to protect human liberties. Kannanari’s evocative style and sharp insights elevate the work above ordinary storytelling, warning readers of the dangers of giving up individual autonomy for communal good.

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