Book Reviews

The Antagonists – Book Review

  • Author: Tina Biswas
  • Genre: Contemporary (Political) Fiction
  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing (1 January 2019)
  • Language: English

BLURB as on Goodreads

I am one of you . . . that is why I, and only I, can be trusted to do what is good for you. January 12, 2013. Sachin Lohia, the billionaire businessman, has just woken up to a nightmare. A raging fire in his hospital. Over a hundred people dead. Journalists demanding answers. And worst of all, the chief minister of West Bengal, the formidable Devi, calling him a murderer. Hot-headed and stubborn, Devi doesn’t t bother with formalities or facts. Her people are baying for blood, and Sachin is the perfect scapegoat. But will her schemes bring about his downfall or will she be the one to get hurt in this battle of wits? Seamlessly melding the personal and the political, this is a darkly satirical story of clashing egos, fatal misunderstandings, and dangerous self-deception. Irreverent, incisive, occasionally scabrous, and always bold, The Antagonists shines a light on the murky world of politics.

My Review

All dogma, no pragma! This one line hooked me and it is echoing in me endlessly. How intelligent it is to stick to your baseless and hollow principles when they have no practical value! The Antagonists is a scathing and blunt account of the murky political system of India which brings out the dark side of it along with its ever-changing dynamics.

An animated character Devi who is the Chief Minister of West Bengal is a staunch believer of ethics and values. To her, politics is a place of worship and one must be just to his or her position. She makes it a point that each member of her party does justice to the morals of politics and stands upright to her notions of ethical politicism. Sachin is the face behind The Lohia Group who is a Marwari businessman in Kolkata. His right hand Anil Thakur is a shrewd man who knows how to churn the opportunities to his benefit. Anima Acharya, a neurosurgeon who returned from the UK, is crestfallen as she recognizes her husband’s infidelity. This sends her to Balachuria where Lohia Group is planning to set up a coal mine and Devi is completely against it for she wants to keep the tribal inhabitants of the place away from harm. Devi is the politician draped in white saree chanting only one thing – uproot corruption and send the communists to the jail!

Right from page one, the novel piqued my interest and I was totally engrossed into the vivid details of the political scenario drawn wonderfully by the author. With every character, a new facet of the system comes into the picture. Everyone has a role to play and so, everyone does play it well and fair. Keep aside the verbose narrative, and one would easily enjoy the story because the way it brings out the dark truth is lovely. Despite so many characters, the author holds on to each one of them patiently and plays her cards at the right point. So yes, even if there is chaos, there is clarity. The story delves deeper into the psyche of its every character and puts forth the true picture of their minds fiddling with changeable thoughts. I liked how a serious issue is described in an acerbic tone that is garnished with humor in the right proportions. The play of power and inability of the politicians to decide for themselves whether what is right coming out in the form of Devi who is rash and brazen in her approach throughout the novel. Moreover, it was also disheartening to witness a young woman succumbing to the dirty political gimmicks when all she carried in her was love and immense hope.

The Antagonists truly turned out to be a page-turner for me for such a sardonic and engaging writing style has been out of my reach till now. Along with that, the manner in which the author has attempted to do justice to the story as well its characters is commendable. Though a few instances seemed excessively dragged and boring for me to consume, I have thoroughly enjoyed it for its narration. No doubt, the narration won the points! And if not this, the cover is stunning to drool over and mixes well with the blazing theme of politics in the book. And yes, The Antagonists is what constituted the differing elements and viewpoints which co-exist around us and fight against each other for their survival. It’s the game of power and it is undeniably dirty! 

MY RATING: 4.25/ 5


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