We live in a world, which is deeply divided on religious lines. Terrorism, killings, mass murders committed in the name of religion are the order of the day. It is not surprising that the percentage of people who choose atheism over organised religion is on the rise.
In the book, ‘Hell! No Saints in Paradise’ author AK Asif introduces us to Ismael, who is an atheist. He was brought up in Pakistan, where his religious father always sermonised on the Do’s and Don’ts of life. Not following the siraat e mustaaqeem (the so-called straight path), would lead him to jahannum (or hell). He grew up listening to stories of divine punishments meted out to those who go to hell. Ismael escaped Pakistan and settled in America instead.
Several years later, in the year 2050, he chances upon Petra, a psychoanalyst, who advises him to visit the Yage Yoga Centre. He experiences a potion there which he is transported to a psychedelic world of spiritualism and has visions of Al-Khidr. This encounter prompts him to visit Pakistan, which is now under the Caliphate. Ismael now has to pose as a believer in order to secure his passage and safety in Pakistan.
What follows is a tale of self-discovery. Although dystopian bordering on fantasy, this book is also a commentary on the socio-political climate of the modern world. In his lucid language, and strong and articulate writing, AK Asif makes you a compatriot of Ismael in this journey.
While one must definitely pat the author’s back for coming up with a book on fantasy genre, on a subject which often gets people killed, it is also worth noting that the length of the book is painstakingly long.
However, the book gets you involved. There are gory scenes, details which are at times unpalatable. But one must read on (just like one must continue to live through events). Does Ismael finish his thesis on paradise and hell? That’s for you to read and find out. It is the journey that matters.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
P.S. – Thank you Writersmelon for the review copy.
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When it comes to mythological fiction and thriller writers in India, the name of Ashwin Sanghi stands tall among his peers. From The Rozabal Line to The Krishna Key, Chanakya’s Chant or the Private India series, his books have always amalgamated mythology and thrill with elan that leaves his readers wanting for more.
Sanghi’s books always bring with them a treasure trove of information. In his previous books he has introduced us to fascinating tales involving Krishna, Jesus Christ, Chanakya, and gave us entry into dark worlds like the tor internet or organ racketeering. In ‘Keepers of Kalachakra’ he takes us into the world of quantum physics.
Kalachakra simply means wheels of time. Without sounding propagandist, Sanghi has infused hardcore physics with ancient Indian philosophy. Intriguing concepts have been dealt with delicacy and served to the readers in a manner that does not sound boring or preachy in any bit.
In his signature style, he opens the plot with a sensational assassination, and tops it up with global ramifications. Several incidents – which are seemingly interconnected – converge into the life of the protagonist Vijay, a scientist who lands a job in a fishy laboratory in the foothills of the Himalayas and gets sucked into the quagmire.
‘Keepers of Kalachakra’ has all the ingredients for a riveting read – an international terrorist organisation, a secret group of spies, international agents working towards global destabilisation to serve selfish needs, as well as Tibetan monks who are the carriers of ancient secrets. Although the book is a tad bit long, one can hardly put it down without the constant nagging need to know what happens next.
After the disappointing Sialkot Saga, Kalachakra gives us the Ashwin Sanghi we have knows over the years. The book weaves together history, political science, philosophy and mythology in a beautiful fashion without ever being stereotypical or judgmental. The depth and reach of Kalachakra makes it the best work of Ashwin Sanghi till date.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
P.S. Thank you Westland Books and Ashwin Sanghi for the preview copy
DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Book Have Their Respective Copyrights