Book Title: Pokhran – A Novel

Author: Uday Singh

Format: Kindle

Book Title

The title of the book ‘Pokhran – A Novel‘ is a proud remembrance and nostalgic too!

Book Cover

The cover image of the book is an abstract yet thought-provoking image of a city with a large building being build upon the land where the nuclear test was done. This image is hypothetical and argumentative.

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Inside the book

The story is set in a remote village, Pokhran in the state of Rajasthan, India. This is the story of a young kid Chaitanya, who was a victim of the Nuclear experiment named ‘Smiling Buddha‘ in the year 1974. It often happens that the science and technology along with Research and Development comes with costly consequences, likewise, the lives of people like Chaitanya were affected due to the nuclear fallout that has changed their lives completely.

Coming to the story, Chaitanya’s father, Paramvir, an architect and structural engineer whose dream project was to bring a drastic change about a change in the canal system of Pokhran that would help the residents claim the drinking water. When Paramvir hears the successful experiment, he doesn’t back-off but further confidently opines that his project will withstand any kind of disturbances such as earthquakes during the Smiling Buddha project.

As the saying goes, expect the unexpected, this nuclear test changes the lives of the people of the place forever. What happened is what the story is about.

Check out the flash review and other stories in Storizen Magazine September 2020 issue

My review

Of late I have been reading books that are either fantasy fiction or non-fiction. This book came as a surprise. It is derived from real events and if drilled deeper, can also be the real story of any person who is either a victim or a survivor of Nuclear Tests. We often keep reading about the ill effects such R&D tests result in. Such is the story that author Uday has picked up.

Many similar incidents came to my mind and for some time I have been thinking about people like Chaitanya, who are born with disabilities for no fault of them. It is impossible to even imagine life with such physical challenges. But, the best part of the story is the positive and zealous attitude the protagonist illustrates.

The book is a good combination of details, facts, and emotions. The missing feeling is we lose someone we love or the humanity aspects or love or relationship or friendship or revenge is shown coherently and strongly. 

I also liked the author’s extreme research, details about the places mentioned, known, and unknown facts of the project Smiling Buddha. 

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What to expect

Expect an action-packed emotional story that has all the elements. The best part of the book is it has lots of twists that will surprise and entertain the reader. The narration is so nice that a screen-play for a movie or a short film can be easily made of it. 

My take on the characters

The story starts simple with a nuclear test and introduces the readers to three characters. One being Chaitanya, a newly born kid, his father Paramvir, and his mother. He loses his mother and hence the character has space in the story. Due to the radiation emitted from the nuclear test, Chaitanya is born with many physical disabilities. However, with great determination, his sister and father look after him and he becomes a successful person. During his study life at MIT, USA, he meets Zara who also happens to be one of the central characters.

With lots of empathy and unconditional love, the character of Devyani and Zara allure the readers. Chaitanya oozes with determination and hope and of late these characteristics are shown as the story progresses. The author has eloquently crafted the characters with scope and depth.

As the saying goes, expect the unexpected, this nuclear test changes the lives of the people of the place forever. What happened is what the story is about.

How good is the author’s writing style

The storyline is very interesting as well as the author’s writing. Narrated in the first person, author Uday takes a reader into the past and combines it with the aftermath of the incidents that happened in the past. As the focal point of the story is about India’s proudest moment, the Smiling Buddha project, the readers will be curious to read the story. 

The author very vividly explains the pros and cons of such tests in the domestics areas that will affect the lives of people for ages. The narration also reminded me of the Bhopal gas tragedy and the Hiroshima Nagasaki incident for which the people along generations are paying the price.

The story then points towards Chaitanya and his quest to understand the mystery behind. He being the son of Paramvir who once had a dream is no more a thing to feel happy about. Why is it not a dream anymore? What happened with the canal linking project? This happens to the quest that Chaitanya, the protagonist must chase. The quest is never a cakewalk to him but is a rough road with many bumps that also include people’s disownment and curses.

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Who can read the book

The book is written in colloquial and basic language that can be read universally. It will surely interest the readers who are aware and have been during the Pokhran Nuclear test II during the reign of our lovable President Late. Mr. Abdul Kalam too in the year 1998.

As the title suggests, the novel is the life story of the protagonist Chaitanya. His life from childhood, his growth as a person, and his emotions that build up the central narrative. The book is written in simple language and even beginners can read the book.

Final Rating

4/5

(Reviewed by Swapna Peri)

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