Title – The Dark Side of Light
Author – Sanil Sachar
Publisher – Rupa Publications
Genre – Fiction
Pages – 268
Price – INR 350
ISBN – 978-81-291-3976-4
Blurb on the Book – The Dark Side of Light, Sanil Sachar’s second book, promises a unique literary experience for readers, with its combination of short stories, poems and plays, vignettes of romance, comedy, murder, mystery and much more.
Offering a diverse pick, Sanil seamlessly combines the rhythm of poetry, the allure of storytelling and the realism of theatre to create an enriching and vivid experience. Some pieces transport you to a different world, while others allude to everyday experiences. Set in the year 2034, ‘Members Only’ takes you inside India’s first strip club and asks existential questions about a person’s identity, through the story of a young man who oscillates between love and lust.
‘Painted Red’ is about a brother dealing with the loss of a sibling and brings alive basic human emotions like wrath and vengeance. Navigating through an array of everyday emotions, ‘Dinner with the Turners’ is a laugh riot that peeps into the life of a hopeless young wanderer trying to find his identity in a foreign land. ‘I’ll Be There One Day’ is a short and powerful story about belonging, while mystery and wavering thoughts dominate ‘The Conditioned Air’.
Review – The book has a simple cover that wholly captures the theme of the book, conveying its very essence in a powerful way. The beauty of the title lies in the fact that it deftly hints at the soul of the book, while leaving the reader wondering what could it imply, revealing the depths only when he plunges in the refreshing waters of creativity this book holds within.
I have forever been inclined towards the light, bright and positive forms of literature, but when I came across this book what piqued my curiosity was the idea (that I guessed from its title) of reveling in the realms of darker aspects of creativity. Both for a change as well as to help me see the other side of life (that I usually avoid in literature) that’s pretty dark and closer to reality.
“I hadn’t wanted to be anyone’s first message in the morning, last call at night or mid-day thought. Love is essentially a selfish emotion; we dedicate our time to someone else but in reality we expect them to do the same for us. So love is not being selfless and giving, it’s about being greedy and always wanting to receive.”
As mentioned in the promising blurb, this book is a creative amalgam of three forms of story-telling; prose, poetry and plays. The book is an exquisite and sensitive portrayal of myriad of emotions in every piece. The simplicity of narration packed with the punch of elements of mystery, philosophy and realism makes every pick a journey in itself. The author successfully takes the reader into the deep, dark corners of the human mind where dander, reprisal and disdain reside.
The prose and poems have been cleverly assorted to balance out the rich flavor this book serves.I wish to congratulate the author in bringing together a scoop from every genre, painting it in a shade of grey and presenting in a way that left me wondering if these stories could be inspired by the real people around me.
I took time to read this (seemingly) fast paced book, re-reading every poem to let its deeper meanings sink in. I couldn’t stop being amazed by the many vignettes each poetry exposed me to. The book also has scripts for plays written in meticulous detail, hinting at the author’s writing skills for theater and aspiration to write for films.
“So when I wondered why I was in this state? Why I was enduring such pain? Why I let it all happen to me, when I could avoid this situation? I let the reason act as an anaesthesia to eclipse the pain and calm me in order for me to go down a road I had adamantly chosen to follow. When something you could die for takes you away, is it your defeat or victory?”
However, at times, I found the stories getting monotonous when the plots changed course to end in a murder. Mainly so because after the initial few reads the twists in the stories get quite predictable.
In ‘Members Only’ I was left confused who was the ex-girlfriend when in the start Dana and Disha were introduced as the names of Raghav’s girlfriend. Though I got the clarification from the play script that followed the story.
At some points, I felt a poem was a poetic depiction of a prose, for example ‘Puzzle’ was closely related to the plot of ‘Rubik’s Cube’. However, during editing, as they both have been placed at distant ends in the book, it only adds to the feeling of enjoying the thrill experienced once again.
‘Seconds Turn into Minutes’, ‘Tamanna’ and ‘Trade’ are among my favorites in the book. The book has the dual quality of becoming a racy yet bracing read that made me see life and it’s mundane in a different light.
I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading fiction and would love to taste soulful scoops of poetry that draws inspiration from day-to-day life presented in an urbane way. If you’d love to savor short stories in all genres with a dash of dark notes like the cobalt blue night sky, this book is just for you.
About the Author- Sanil Sachar is a 23 yearold author from Delhi. He started writing during his time in England, where he completed his high school and as well as graduation. His first book, Summer Promises and Other Poems, was published in 2013. After graduating in Sport Business Management from Sheffield Hallam University, he worked in the corporate sector with Star Sports but finally decided to take up writing full-time, resulting in his second book.
Rating – 3.5/5
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Disclosure – I received the review copy of the book as part of the Flipkart Book Review Program. However the views expressed are my own and totally abiding the policy I have outlined here.