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Fiction, Literature

Surface epub ebook

by Siddhartha Deb

Surface epub ebook

Author: Siddhartha Deb
Category: Contemporary
Language: English
Publisher: Picador; UK ed. edition (April 15, 2005)
Pages: 272 pages
ISBN: 0330489259
ISBN13: 978-0330489256
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 600
Other formats: docx txt txt azw


Siddhartha Deb (Bengali: সিদ্ধাৰ্থ দেব) (born 1970) is an Indian author who was born in Meghalaya and grew up in Shillong in northeastern India. He was educated in India and at Columbia University, US.

Siddhartha Deb (Bengali: সিদ্ধাৰ্থ দেব) (born 1970) is an Indian author who was born in Meghalaya and grew up in Shillong in northeastern India. Deb began his career in journalism as a sports journalist in Calcutta in 1994 before moving to Delhi to continue regular journalism until 1998.

Near the end, one of the characters in Siddhartha Deb’s Surface says, ‘To conceal surfaces under other surfaces is necessary’ and this is what the entire narrative is all about. Cloaked under layers and layers, this is the ultimate revelation that is dawned upon the reader – ‘projecting attractive images that concealed what lay behind’.

Originally intended as a story for his paper, he learns so much more on his travels. I found this novel quite sad. It highlights corruption amongst so much poverty. However it was also entertaining. On this personal journey he meets people who all regale him with tales of their life - most often sad stories.

Siddhartha Deb combines a political thriller with a coming-of-age story in Surface, says Soumya Bhattacharya. Amrit Singh, the hero of Siddhartha Deb's second novel, is a disaffected young reporter on a crumbling Calcutta paper called the Sentinel

Siddhartha Deb combines a political thriller with a coming-of-age story in Surface, says Soumya Bhattacharya. Amrit Singh, the hero of Siddhartha Deb's second novel, is a disaffected young reporter on a crumbling Calcutta paper called the Sentinel. Alert to the slow decay of my ambitions each day I came into work', he is, nevertheless, 'without the will or belief to act on the impulses that seethed inside'. He wants out of his dreary job reporting on the squabbles in the city's civic body and sees a future in which he would do the sort of writing that he really wants to.

Siddhartha Deb. The one book you need on the New India

Siddhartha Deb. The one book you need on the New India. In 2004, after six years in New York, Siddhartha Deb returned to India to look for a job. He discovered that sweeping change had overtaken the country. With the globalization of its economy, the relaxation of trade rules, the growth in technology, and the shrinking down of the state, a new India was being born

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The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India Aug 30, 2011.

Surface by Siddhartha Deb - book cover, description, publication history. A chilling novel where nothing is quite as it seems on the surface! Amrit is a reporter for the Sentinel, dispatched to 'the region' on the vaguest of assignments

Surface by Siddhartha Deb - book cover, description, publication history. A chilling novel where nothing is quite as it seems on the surface! Amrit is a reporter for the Sentinel, dispatched to 'the region' on the vaguest of assignments. Despite his initial reluctance, he is hopeful he may uncover enough of interest and intrigue to make the front page. And he has the perfect place to start: a photograph he's uncovered of a young woman, involved in pornography, taken captive by a shadowy insurgent group and paraded before the press as a lesson to others like her. Genre: Literary Fiction. Similar books by other authors.

Siddhartha Deb is an Indian author who was born in Meghalaya and grew up in. .His first non-fiction book,

Siddhartha Deb is an Indian author who was born in Meghalaya and grew up in Shillong in northeastern India  . His first non-fiction book,

Amrit is a reporter for the Sentinel, dispatched to 'the region' on the vaguest of assignments. Despite his initial reluctance, Amrit has known for a while that his career is going nowhere, and is hopeful he may uncover enough of interest and intrigue to secure him a job with a foreign magazine where he has a vague contact. He has the perfect place to start: a photograph he's uncovered of a young woman, ostensibly involved in pornography, taken captive by a shadowy insurgent group and paraded before the press as a lesson to others like her. Yet, following her trail through dead ends and paths that peter out, Amrit soon learns that in the region, nothing is quite what it seems. Finally, with his goal in sight, Amrit is forced to rethink his quest and, indeed, where his journey will take him next.
Reviews (2)
Quttaro
Surface is a very well written but ultimately disappointing novel set in Northeast India that has had a history of insurgent violence that is both political but often borders on politics as justification for what amounts to organized criminal activity. The story centers on Amrit, a disaffected reporter for the Sentinel in Calcutta. After discovering and becoming captivated a photograph of a young woman who was possibly executed by an insurgent group for being in porn films, and having made contact with a supposed representative of a German magazine interested in a story on North East India, Amrit takes off to the region to uncover the story.

While the prose is wonderful the novel itself is a disappointment. The story meanders from one scene to the next as Amrit uncovers the mystery of the young woman and the conclusion is unsatisfying as the reader wonders why either Amrit or the reader made this journey to begin with.

Bundis
The story is set in the early 1990s. Amrit Singh is a dissatisfied reporter on a dreary local Calcutta newspaper, the Sentinel, which has seen better days. It decides to extend its coverage, and sends Amrit to a remote region adjacent to the border with Burma, inhabited by several ethnic groups and long plagued by several and rival groups of insurgents. The place to which he posted is not identified, but it must be Manipur in Nagaland. Amrit had made some contact with Herman, a German journalist who encouraged him to write for a German magazine, and Amrit leaves for the region with the idea of sending stories to his German contact and, if successful, to sever his links with the Calcutta paper.

In a filing room of the Sentinel he had found a photograph of a young woman between two armed and masked men, with a note on the back from MORLS, an insurgent group in the region, that she was a porn actress and had been shot as a punishment. Herman and he thought that, if he could find out the back story of that photograph (which we are told, on no evidence, was taken at Imphal, the capital of Manipur, the state south of Nagaland) and write it up for the German, it would make Amrit's name and would enable him to change employer.

It does not sound a very credible plan, but it is with this idea that Amrit sets out for the region and once there, in defiance of his employer on the Sentinel, he sets out on the long trek to Imphal. Deb is good at visual descriptions of the run-down nature of the area - ramshackle buildings, ramshackle buses, terrible roads, acres of flooded land, that sort of thing - the more remarkable since he tells us in his Acknowledgments that he has never been to the area himself:
"anyone wishing to replicate Amrit's journey would be hopelessly lost." Maybe so. But it would have been useful to include a map. Amrit's plane from Calcutta lands in "the main [unnamed] city of the region". By process of elimination that must be Dimapur, from where Amrit makes his way through Kohima to Imphal and then to Moreh in Manipur.

Amrit has several encounters and hears several stories along the journey. He keeps being told about an environmental project near the Burmese frontier run by a charismatic character called Malik who is said to be respected both by the Indian government and by MORLS. He falls into conversation with many people on the way who tell him stories, some of which seem to have nothing to do with the plot; the book then resembles a travelogue. In fact, apart from one brief mention on page 96 of a contact who suggested that the photograph may not be what it purports to be, there is no further clue until 50 pages later, just over half-way through the book, while he is in Kohima, when the story gathers pace: the young woman is identified, we learn what work she did and why this would have upset MORLS. But MORLS' work was not yet done; and when he finally reaches Imphal, its latest deed quite overshadowed any interest most of the locals might have had in helping Amrit to learn more about the woman in the photograph - and what he does learn about her from a relative doesn't help to solve the mystery of what happened to her, though he now thinks he knows enough about her to make him end his research and write his article. And then it turns out not to be the end of the story ... and then we don't really know what the end of the story is.

The blurb cites phrases of praise from serious and respectable journals: "remarkable journey of self-discovery", "taut with dramatic tension and teeming with vivid characters". I must say I can't agree with any of that. Pages on end seem to me just padding, while the main story is on hold. For example, together with the photograph, Amrit had removed from the filing room a printed volume of a 1946 diary written by the last British editor of the Sentinel. A part of this journal is reproduced at length; it deals with conversations the diarist had had with a British soldier who was haunted by the experiences he had had in the war, both when Japanese had invaded North-East India and the British army had been retreating and then when it had recovered the same ground in the final victorious counter-offensive of the war. It is not clear what the connection is between that story and Amrit's quest. As for the main story, this becomes quite fuzzy at the end and leaves some loose ends. The role and motivation of several characters - the German journalist or a retired Sentinel correspondent called Robiul who gives advice to Amrit - is never clear. Though the style is straightforward enough, it is not an easy book to read, and it left me unsatisfied.

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