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A modern day Mahabharata , The Great Indian Novel is a satire on modern Indian politics. Bhishma becomes Gandhi, the blind king Dhritrashtra is Nehru and his daughter Indira becomes Priya Duryodhani, who declared Emergency in the 1970s in India. The Five Pandavas become the judiciary, media, the army, civil and foreign services. And democracy is Draupadi – who is shamed by Duryodhani’s actions. Like the original Mahabharata, The Great Indian Novel has eighteen chapters.
The tone of the book is irreverent, and the cantankerous narrator spares none of the Indian idols. Shashi Tharoor’s debut novel, first published nearly 25 years ago, is a delight to read. In this award-winning novel, Tharoor has masterfully and very courageously reinterpreted Indian political history in a witty, yet soul searching manner. It is no small feat, considering that Tharoor is a prominent Congress politician now.
The Indian Express advised “every sane Indian” to buy a copy of the book and noted author and social commentator Khushwant Singh called it “perhaps the best work of fiction written by an Indian in recent years”.
It really is a must read.