Nari by Sharath Komarraju is not simply a novel. While it is a piece of fiction, it shakes your thinking cap hard. Really hard! The book is based on the sensitive topic of rape and raises so many questions. What is rape? How can we define this heinous crime? Why do men rape women? Do women rape men? However, the book does not try to give answers. The author allows readers to make their own inferences. On the other hand, the book takes the readers to the main causes that lead to rape. This book forces us to open our eyes and see what is really there. In author’s own words, the narrative in this book takes the topic of rape out of the vacuum where it is usually viewed and places it as a sub-theme in the wider and vaster subject of how human beings view and have sex.
The book has been divided into two sections to present two sides of a rape. The first section deals with the first person account of ‘a rape victim’ and the second with the first person narrative of ‘the perpetrator of the rape’. Both the sections are easy to read and relatable. The voices of both ‘the victim’ and ‘the perpetrator’ are different but clear. Writing the book in the form of two different but interconnected sections makes Nari an interesting read. The first section gives a close look at the rape victim and her thought process. And, in the second section, the author changes the angle of the camera on the entire situation by providing the perpetrator’s point of view. This, in turn, makes readers struggle to find what is right and what is wrong. Though the book revolves around two main characters, other characters have also been fleshed out well and play an important part in the plot.
Writing fiction based on the sensitive topic of rape is really not an easy task. There will always be few raising eyebrows whatever you write. However, I think that Sharath has done this difficult task really well. In addition to dealing with the subject of rape, this book helps you to learn more about human sexual behaviour. At the same time, the book is not preachy at all. The book has a brilliantly woven story-line that entertains you. The book starts off perfectly and drops you directly in the midst of a well-constructed drama. The narration is refreshingly realistic and keeps your eyes glued to the pages. Writing is simple but it says so much. There are no graphic scenes in the book. I would also like to take a moment to applaud the author for the cover page. He could have gone with something prettier or something catchier. But he didn’t. Instead he used dual faces on the cover page which perfectly illustrates what he intended to convey in the book.
On the whole, control of the pace and tempo of the narrative according to the demands of the scenes, and a shrewd understanding of human psychology by the author account for the beautifully written tale of Nari. Go for it! This book will change your views on rape.
Note: I revived a free copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review.