Servant: How It Was Written
Set during the 19th Century British Imperial rule in India, Singh’s Servant: How It Was Written follows generations of the Das family in a beautiful and haunting portrait of the devastation of Empire on an embryonic nation and a spiritual people. After losing his wife and one of his children, thanks to famine and poor living conditions, Hari leaves to join a rebellion against the prideful and arrogant interlopers who’ve taken over the country. When the rebellion fails and Hari is captured, he’s executed for his ‘treasonous’ actions, leaving behind his last two children— Arjun and Hema. From here, we follow Arjun, then his son Balram. Arjun wants his son to have better options in life and is thrilled when Balram is accepted into a school in Calcutta.
It’s here that Balram meets the enchanting Radha. Unfortunately, Radha is of a higher caste. Her father is furious with the budding relationship and forbids Radha to interact with the ‘inferior’ Balram. She’s promised to the sin of a business associate and must do nothing to sully this match. This doesn’t deter the pair, though the consequences could be devastating.
I have a love/hate relationship with historical fiction of Empire. The anthropologist and historian in me is fascinated with this era. The philosopher and empath in me loathes the mentality behind Empire and the destruction to people and cultures deemed ‘lesser’. Okay, mini-rant over. This was a hauntingly beautiful tale, woven through generations of the same family. You get to see how the culture is slowly changing over time, thanks to the good and bad influences of those that come to trade and invade. India is moving into a more global arena. It showcases the values of the culture, such as duty, dedication, generosity, and deep spirituality that persevered despite Western influence. It’s a beautiful culture and a country I’d love to visit, given the opportunity. I quite enjoyed this read and look forward to reading the next in the series.
|Page Count||649 pages|
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