Title : In The Land Of The Lovers
Author : Sakoon Singh
Publisher : Rupa Publications
Pages : 232
Genre : Literary fiction
It evoked a feeling in her—of silence and freedom, of riding a bicycle on a dirt track cutting through fields in the absence of her parents, Nanaki, a fiercely sensitive young woman, is brought up by her grandparents in a quaint Chandigarh neighbourhood. She grows up to be an artist and a Professor in an art college. As Nanaki goes through the motions of an idyllic childhood and a difficult teenage love, her experiences play out against a haunting backdrop of Partition and her beeji’s turbulent personal history. Nanaki is brought face to face with the dark underbelly of contemporary Punjab when she takes up the cause of a consummate embroidery artist against a corrupt system while also being privy to the heart-breaking stories of two women in her immediate vicinity. Through it all, it is her Sufi bearings that sustain her. Meanwhile, over many motorcycle jaunts to the tiny hill-town of ka SA ul I, Nanaki finds love in himmat, an architect with his own share of personal tragedy and a scarred childhood. Meditative, rooted in location yet filtered through nostalgia, in the land of the lovers is a masterfully woven fable with interlocking tales that explore struggle, loss, longing and love with brilliant insight and luminous prose.
In the Land of the Lovers is a book that subtly enthralls you with its latent charm and potency.
The very first thing that caught my attention was the prose. The descriptions are so vivid and endearing that it wasn’t hard to imagine oneself in the same situation.
The protagonist Nanaki is a sensitive, young woman of courage and virtues. She was brought up by the grandparents in a quintessential Punjabi neighborhood. I have been to Amritsar, but my stay was brief. So I wasn’t really acquainted with the cultural attributions. This book cracked open a doorway for me to not just peek into but also to cross over and be there. The beautiful, real locations from Chandigarh made it all the more worthwhile.
The author beautifully paints generations’ long loss, trauma, love and hope in one master stroke. With the backdrop of the despairs of Partition, we read history in way one can experience it firsthand.
The plot is oozing with stories that are imploring to be told and the compelling narrative only added to its plea. As a reader, this book gave me a fulfilling experience with a box load of an uncanny sense of nostalgia to ponder upon. I rate it 5 out of 5 Stars.