We of the Forsaken World...


We of the Forsaken World... (2020), a novel by Kiran Bhat, attempts to compress the global community into a narrative composed of a handful of vignettes centered on four characters: a milkmaid, a one-armed woman, a journalist, and the son of a tribal chief. And while this may sound like a compelling read, I found it rather wearisome in its complexity and (unintentionally, it would seem) frustratingly disjointed. Too many times I found myself wondering who the narrator was (there are a bunch, in four disparate locations). But there are also some colorful and well-crafted prose in the work, and creating very different, and convincing, voices from a range of cultures would have been quite a challenge. What's lacking, though, are solid connections between ideas, characters, and stories. There's no clear overarching framework tying these tales together, and the narrative is missing something that the reader can latch on to, and trust, for the ride. I wasn't wholly disappointed; I just found it confusing and meandering at times. And some of the violence towards girls and women, which crops up here and there, along with other instances of violence, seemed unnecessary—sure, such violations do occur in real life, and violence of course has a place in fiction, but is it necessary in this story, or simply there to remind us these things happen? Bhat, however, has a talent for language, and no doubt for story-telling as well. So although the novel didn't leave much of an impression on me, I have a feeling he's capable of producing something that could blow minds, and I wish him all the best on his pen-in-hand journey.

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