Sunday, 19 August 2012

Book Review: The Edge Of Desire by Tuhin A. Sinha

Tuhin Sinha’s The Edge Of Desire is the story of how Shruti Ranjan, a humiliated woman, enters politics and then has a meteoric rise. Shruti is the wife of an honest IAS officer posted in Bihar. One day, she is raped by the villainous politician-cum-goon, Salim Yadav. Unable to obtain justice, Shruti enters politics in order to avenge the dishonour she suffered. Just as Shruti’s political star goes up, her relationship with her husband breaks down completely. Towards the end of the story, we see Shruti getting divorced, but she never marries charismatic politician Sharad Malviya, the main person responsible for her political ascent.

Just as The Edge Of Desire is the story of a wronged woman, one could also call it a political thriller. Once Shruti wins her election, she is placed in various positions of responsibility, till she becomes the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs. Shrugging off accusations that she is having a relationship with Sharad Malviya though still married to her estranged IAS officer husband, Shruti supports Sharad as he fights the good fight against terrorism and separatism.


Sharad Malviya is right-wing in ideology and impulsive in action. When his only daughter Rhea and Rhea’s American boyfriend are abducted by terrorists, Sharad agrees to swap his daughter for a few jailed terrorists. At the last minute he has a change of heart and orders the accompanying armymen to open fire. Do Rhea and her boyfriend survive? Please read this book to find out.

Since Sharad Malviya is a right winger, one gets the feeling that The Edge Of Desire pushes his ideology, such as when the issue of “love-jihad” waged by Islamic fundamentalists in Kerala crops up. Towards the end we see Sharad the Home Minister getting seven terrorists hanged in quick succession and arranging for the encounter death of under-trial terrorists before Sharad himself dies in a helicopter crash. When the novel begins, Shruti is in jail and one wonders what she could have done to deserve such an end? Did she turn corrupt? No, Shruti is being punished for having arranged the fake encounter in which the under-trial terrorists were killed. In jail, Shruti wishes to be hanged to death, though she believes she saved hundreds of lives by her actions. She thinks ‘our future generations ought to know that seventy-two years after Bhagat Singh was hanged to death, Indian laws and politics are still skewed against those who, in their patriotic zest, dare to tread the extra mile for the country.

The Edge Of Desire is an interesting read and Sinha keeps his reader gripped till the end. However, I have mixed feelings about this book as a whole and am not sure if I should recommend it.

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