I picked ‘A Restless Wind’ by Shahrukh Husain at the Delhi International Book Fair in 2018. My flatmate was the first person to read it and had a one like review – ‘it’s okay’. It’s probably her enthusiasm that pushed me into not reading it sooner.
So what is the book about? It’s about a British Barrister, born in Pakistan, raised in India, who returns to Gujarat after 20 years because her aunt is dying. She comes from a family that has historic connections with the royals, now dabbling in politics. The reader is made to understand that the story is taking place some time after the Gujarat riots, perhaps 2003/2004.
Zara, the heroine of our story, is married to a white dude, who is a psychotherapist and always over-analyses her moods and sentences. She is more than happy to take a break from her husband, fly thousands of miles away, go back in the lanes of her past and possibly she if she can rekindle an unfinished romance with a royal.
Shahrukh Husain has written the book very well, her sentences are fluid, she describes everything vividly, use all the apt phrases to transport you to the scenes. The problem with the novel is that it’s predictable and boring. Even her biggest twist, that eventually turns out to be a red-herring in the end, was something that the reader can sense. Or at least I did.
I found myself skipping some pages and paragraphs. There was hardly any bit that makes you laugh. None of her characters have a strong arc. Nobody in the book is very likable. However, Husain does a good job of conveying how hatred, blind beliefs and bigotry can lead to communal tensions and divide in the most secular of regions. All you need is a small spark, to start a fire.
Perhaps, the biggest problem with the book is that a lot of it is not relatable and the narration is slow. It took me days to finish reading it. Not your ‘un-putdownable’ kind of book. But probably worth a read.