Book Reviews

The Infidel Next Door by Rajat Mitra – Book Review

  • Author: Rajat Mitra
  • Tankobon Softcover
  • Publisher: Utpal Publications (2019)
  • Language: English

BLURB as on Goodreads

When Aditya, a Hindu priest, is asked to go back to a temple in Kashmir where his ancestor was killed for refusing to convert to Islam, he decides he must go. Though the attacks – both on his family and on the temple – occurred three centuries ago, the wounds are yet to heal. When he arrives, he discovers a mosque has been built next door where Anwar, the imam’s son, is becoming a fanatic to escape memories of humiliation.

As seen through their eyes, the novel describes the anguish and terror when Anwar slowly begins to see his relationship to God as the only true one and gives in to the demand of his mentor to throw out hundreds of thousands of Hindus to create a Kashmir without infidels.

A story so steeped in haunting imagery of once beautiful land and its forgotten people, it brings to fore one of the deepest fear of our times that when a man gets caught up in a struggle over religious fundamentalism, does his conscience still remain a force to decide his ultimate choice?

Book Review (1)

The infidel next door by Rajat Mitra is a tragic account of the Kashmir valley, the most controversial place of India. As the story kickstarts, you do get an impression that it would be about the atrocities borne by Kashmiri pandits but as you go ahead, you realise that the author has described the prevalence of hatred over love, without taking any side. Sheer brilliance.

The book discusses several issues surrounding Kashmir and also talks about how the ‘heaven’ has been turned into hell. It’s not just Hindus who were ousted a long time ago but it’s also the Muslims who are suffering. The Muslim boys are brought with hatred infused into their hands thus prompting them to pelt stones at others. They are pushed into becoming terrorists and work for the betterment of their religion. This was truly moving and heartbreaking. I was appalled at the description of how an entire community was exterminated. I’ve never read about this topic but this book gave me enough motivation to delve more into history.

Written in a compelling style, the author puts together different culture and ideas and weaves a story that is engrossing and intriguing. The author bravely and emphatically talked about the condition of Hindus in Kashmir, how the residents of the valley still live in perpetual fear. The book has a racy narrative which delivers a message of hope towards the end. The well fleshed out characters and their contribution to the plotline were really good. I loved how the story takes history into account and sends out a message that for the hatred of a handful, peace is disturbed in the entire nation.

This is definitely not a light read, it just couldn’t be. You should be reading when you gave can give it your undivided attention and strong reception.


Buy your copy: The Infidel Next Door

2 thoughts on “The Infidel Next Door by Rajat Mitra – Book Review

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