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Book Review

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MALAYALAM

Novel in translation

K. Kunhikrishnan

ZAHIR — Novel by Paulo Coelho: M. P. Sadasivan — Tr. in Malayalam; DC Books, DC Kizhakemuri Edam, Good Shepherd Street, Kottayam-686001. Rs. 140.

THE SUDDEN and unexplained disappearance of Esther, who is a war correspondent in Paris, sets the tone of this novel by the best-selling author. The protagonist of the novel is also a best-selling writer, who is obsessed with his thoughts of the enigma of his wife's disappearance. The writer begins his search in the seediest parts of Paris and comes into contact with group therapy in an Armenian restaurant with urban nomads who are disillusioned with modern life. It is with Mikhail that Esther has disappeared. The hero also then has a live-in companion, a film actress. The protagonist goes in search of his wife to Kazakhstan and the story ends in the steppes there.

The narration is in the first person and the characters and dramatic events appear through this.

The writer-hero draws his conclusions on the dark side of obsession. The narrative is an example of contrived literary writing, lacking the blend of fiction. <137>The direct narrative lacks literary silences. Readability of the unconvincing narrative is worsened by poor translation. A story that should haunt has become lacklustre because of the narrative style.<137>

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