A brilliantly written fiction woven through the threads of non-fictional, historical & contemporary events and characters.
Title: Black Hole
Author: Tomichan Matheikal
Illustrator (Cover Design): Nishant Thakur
Print Length: 105 Pages
Blurb (as on Amazon)
Ishan Salman Panicker’s father is a Malayali Hindu and his mother, a Catholic tribal woman from Shillong. His maternal grandfather is a Muslim from Bangladesh. Father Joseph Kunnel prophesies a dark future for Ishan. Ishan escapes from the priest and his prophecies and arrives in Delhi with his wife Jenny. Delhi turns out to be a twirling black hole that drives Ishan to write his own gospel.
This novel is, short as it is, a complex work that probes the inevitable mystique and horror of life. The plot spans a whole century. Saints and sinners, Gandhi and Godse, Jesus and Krishna, and a whole range of ordinary people come together to continue the evolution of a 14-billion-year-old black hole.
This book is a brilliantly written fiction woven through the threads of non-fictional, historical & contemporary events and characters.
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”― Rumi, The Essential Rumi
At some point or the other in the journey of life, we all go through what is called an existential crisis. We get this nagging urge to find out the purpose and the meaning of our life.
Questioning all of our experiences and beliefs, we seek solutions. We seek the truth. But how many of us get to be guided on the right path and how many of us are misguided by bad influences in the name of guidance, religion or spirituality?
Do we really get to unfold our own myth? Is it as simple as it sounds? Well, the book Black Hole by Tomichan Matheikal gives us the idea of how complicated and/or corrupted can things get in the journey that starts as one man’s search for his meaning of life.
The story revolving around multiple characters over a period of three generations brings out the dark side of all religions through the careful capture and layering of real-life historical events that wear the myriad shades of religious politics.
One of the parallel stories set around the Khasi tribe in Shillong that talks about khadduh throw light on lesser-known things showing the amount of research that has gone into writing this book.
While political topics run from Gandhi to Godse and Indra Gandhi to Narendra Modi, the author’s love for Literature can be seen from his references ranging from Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha to Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary to Bhasa’s Dutavakya.
In what may be considered a well-researched and intellectual piece of writing, the author has carefully dealt with controversial topics with an unbiased approach. With a no-nonsense style of writing, this book obviously makes for a quick-moving and short read in spite of its complex settings.
Straightforwardness and satire are in proportion throughout the book.
Spirituality is the best agglutinating force.-Black Hole by Tomichan Matheikal
When he taught them to heal themselves, they demanded miracles.-Black Hole by Tomichan Matheikal
The author’s brilliance in literature shines through his lavish use of metaphorical language that at most places blurs the line between prose and poetry. One may want to reread the book just for appreciating the author’s choice of words. Few of my favourites here:
- The girl was staggered by the tenderness as much as by the alienness of its source.
- The clouds that kissed the hills strummed on the romantic chords stretched tight beneath her suave exterior.
- …their dreams fluttered with butterflies and snapdragons.
- …he introduced himself with a smile that looked sadder than the mist in a lonely sea.
If you are a logophile, you will love this book as almost every page of the book is rich with vocabulary that’s sure to amuse you.
“What is peace?” she wondered. “The absence of conflicts,” he said.-Black Hole by Tomichan Matheikal
Having said that, if there is something that may seem a little off about the book, it would be the complexity in remembering and relatively understanding the multiple characters and stories that run parallel.
It gets a little tricky actually as it’s the same multi-character, multi-story, multi-plot thing that adds weight to the story is what feels little challenging to comprehend too.
On the other hand, the cover design by Nishanth Thakur is unassuming and I wonder if it was a deliberate choice to keep the cover design simple as opposed to the complex story inside.
Not convinced much with the cover design and the fact that I was so invested in this book, I went ahead to design a book cover using Canva. Here it is:
There are vivid descriptions of assaults, riots, violent acts and the aftermaths of it which may evoke intense emotions. While it adds to the authenticity of the book, you may want to make sure that you are in the right mental space to read it and be ok.
This is not the kind of book that makes for a breezy read or is unputdownable. Rather, this is the kind of book that one may read in intervals having the urge to take time in between to process and reflect on what is being said and then get back to reading ahead.
If you love challenging reads with philosophical perspectives trying to understand the purpose of life, people, their emotions, roots of religion or the search for truth, then this book is for you.
Black Hole can get you questioning your own beliefs and make you want to revisit the nation’s history. It may seem to contradict but when you read it, you will find it to be a disturbing and yet satisfying read.
Not every book makes one inquisitive about the author. But the fact that a sense of personal experience in his writing and the honesty that shines even through this fictional work made me want to know more about the author and read his other works too.
You may find the author’s other works here:
Here is Ishaan Panicker’s gospel, a glimpse into the book. To know how he arrived at that, the experiences that led him to write his gospel, read the book.
In the beginning, was a black hole. The black hole was with God, and the black hole was God. All things existed in the black hole. Nothing could escape the tenacity with which the black hole held everything within it. The bonds of that tenacity grew strong and stronger until the black hole could not bear the bondage anymore. And it exploded. Boom. Big Bang. And the black hole became flesh.
Hope you liked the review. I wish to leave you with this quote of Rumi for you to ruminate!
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