Author
Rashmi Narzary
Publisher
Pippa Rann Books and Media
Date
September 19, 2023
Final Verdict
4/5

About the Author

Rashmi Narzary is a dog-lover at heart, an author by passion, a Creative Writing Mentor, and Independent Editor by profession. Her debut novel was Bloodstone: Legend of the Last Engraving. Her book His Share of Sky was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for Children’s Literature in 2016. She lives in Guwahati, India.
Other Works By Rashmi Narzary
Bloodstone
His Share of Sky

Book Review: An Unfinished Search by Rashmi Narzary

Dishari Malakar reviews Rashmi Narzary’s An Unfinished Search (Published by Pippa Rann Books and Media, 2023)

In the realm of contemporary fiction, Rashmi Narzary’s “An Unfinished Search: One Lineage, in One Village, through Three Nations” stands out as a remarkable literary accomplishment. This novel captivated me due to my keen interest in Partition Literature. The story begins with an introduction to Asman Hazratkandi, an elderly man in his mid-eighties, in the year 2017.

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Narzary skillfully employs a non-linear narrative structure, moving backward and forward in time to construct a clear sequence of events. The primary characters hail from Malegarh, a village situated within the geopolitical zone of Assam’s Karimganj district.

Writing and Plot

Central to the narrative is the family’s enduring quest to establish their identity, particularly their nationality, spanning over three generations. The story reaches an “unfinished” yet poignant conclusion, leaving a lasting impact on the readers. Narzary explores profound themes such as race, the influence of religion, and the intricate notions of identity and homeland amidst social and political turmoil.

One of the novel’s most striking features is its ability to encapsulate the shared experiences of numerous individuals. These characters grapple with the struggle to find their sense of self as their homeland undergoes tumultuous changes. Initially, they were part of India, then Pakistan, and eventually Bangladesh, ultimately rendering their place of origin a state of “nowhere.” Narzary deftly portrays the complexities and hardships faced by those caught in the midst of geopolitical shifts.

Characters and Storytelling

The linear movement of the timeline is another brilliantly employed narrative technique that the author uses to trace the life of Anjaan Hazratkandi, who was born out of wedlock in the village of Hazratkandi. His mother, whom he never really met, doesn’t leave behind much of a lineage. Therefore, this backdrop becomes the anchor of the story leading to Anjaan’s ‘unfinished search’ for his own identity.

When looking at the nomenclature of the protagonist from a critical perspective, the word “Anjaan” can be decoded into the author’s attempt to remind the readers of the actual essence of the story. The word Anjaan in the Hindi language translates into “unknown,” which appropriates and suits the plight of the protagonist, accentuating his search for his own ‘unknown’ identity. Through his character, the absence of a ‘surname’ is the key highlight of the story that emphasizes the theme of identity and its intertwined connection with one’s motherland or homeland.

Know more about Rashmi Narzary, author of An Unfinished Search in an exclusive interview with Team P3.

With its lucid language and concise chapters, this captivating book keeps readers engrossed in the story from start to finish. The novel deftly explores contemporary issues such as the impact of education and technology, political atrocities, displacement, and dislocation, weaving them into the narrative as critical elements. Additionally, the exploration of the struggle between tradition and modernity adds depth and richness to the book.

Climax

After reading the novel in its entirety, a profound sense of heartache lingers, evoking empathetic contemplation for the countless individuals who are still on a quest to find their true identity, regardless of their geographical location. As the title might suggest, this book does not provide a comforting conclusion or a quintessential happy ending for its characters or readers. Instead, it serves as a reflection of the shared experiences of many like Anjaan, who remain “unknown” to the world.

Favourite Quote from An Unfinished Search by Rashmi Narzary

Anjaan, of Hazratkandi, left just as he arrived. Without a family name, without an identity. But the search of the Hazratkandis continued.

Dishari Malakar

Dishari Malakar

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