Title: The Tailor’s Needle
Author: Lakshmi Raj Sharma
Published by: Penguin India
Date: 11 December 2012
Genres: Literary fiction, Gandhian, Pre-independence Novel
Tools: Realism, Symbolism, Sarcasm, Satire, Irony, Feminism (implicit), Gandhian Philosophy
The Tailor’s Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma is a fiction title which was published by a published based in England before being published by Penguins in India in 2012, December. Although the publication chronology gives away ample information about the book’s qualities, there are many that readers will appreciate when they read it. To introduce, this is a Raj-novel, as the critics have identified the novels written about events in British India. Moreover, it is a novel that has followed all the traditional benchmarks of literary fiction. In terms of language, plot construction, choice of themes and issues and development of characters, the author has managed everything properly. In this book review, I will try to present my findings.
The novel begins with the family of Sir Saraswati Chandra Ranabakshi, the prime minister of Kashinagar. The author tells us that Sir Saraswati Chandra is a man of moral, wit and powerful personality. His son Yogendra, who is leaning towards the British, is meek and largely an obedient child. Two daughters of Sir Saraswati are Maneka and Sita. Maneka is a woman of her own will while Sita is obedient and homely. The novel traces the lives of these people individually and as a family. Their stay at Kashinagar brings adversities as Maneka’s life becomes chaotic with an affair that should have been avoided (according to Sir Saraswati’s thoughts) and the murder of her husband, Mohan. However, time gives them hope and relief as they reach Dehradun and begin living with the Vaish family. The experiences of Brahmins living with Vaishya and vice-versa brings life to the novel. Bitter-sweet experiences, murder mystery, Yogendra and Gauri’s love story… the novel has many things that can keep the readers indulged. It begins on a serious note and ends emphatically.
We live in a time when readers are many and authors, likewise, are more than ever. Naturally, we have plenty of books on our reading desk now and then. Choosing ideal titles to read for ideal occasions may be a difficult task. The Tailor’s Needle is for the readers who look for seriousness in Indian English Fiction. Casual and occasional fiction titles are too many. However, novelists like Lakshmi Raj Sharma are there to carry the onus of meaningful, serious and quality-enriched fiction writing. In other words, if Chetan Bhagat and Ashwin Sanghi have their edge in thriller novels, this novelist has his assertion on traditional novels with literary qualities. The present novel offers a realistic social commentary on Indian society of the times when British were using all they could to break us into different sections of Brahmins, Shudras, Muslims and so on… However, the novel takes a progressive stand and offers us a depiction of the visionary path followed by Gandhi. The Gandhian call of unity finds its grave reflection, here and there, in the novel. Another striking feature that this novel offers to the readers is that the novelist has used literary tools like sarcasm, light satire and feminism in the most appropriate way. Maneka’s character gives us a glimpse into the fact that India has always given space to its women to make their own choices and live up to their decisions. The fruitful courtship and eventual relation between Gauri and Yogendra, and thus a Brahmin family and a Vaish family, tells the readers that there will always be hope. Sir Saraswati Chandra can reflect, to many readers, a pillar-like personality who is steadfast but progressive in nature. Sita’s choice to marry a widowed person, Maneka’s final decision to join the freedom movement, Yogendra’s decision to counter his father and support Sita’s call and also defend Gauri against his sister Maneka’s jibes… these are some of the many episodes that give the novel the opportunities to rise beyond casual fiction.
The Tailor’s Needle becomes a must-read novel for many readers who want to read different titles from what they have been reading in recent times. It will be an ideal beginning for those who want to experience traditional Indian English writing and may be looking for works that value the idea of Indianness in Indian English Literature. Written in a standard language and fancied upon the realistic foundations of India before 1947, the novel has much to offer! You should read it with a thought in your mind that what you are reading is different and it was the best way it could be written. The novel may be lacking the spicy edges that make the youths want a title badly. However, with whatever it has, The Tailor’s Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma is the best medium, at present moment, to understand in details the India of 1930s and 1940s… you can get a copy of this novel from Amazon India by clicking the link below:
Book review by a contributor to Literature News
The Tailor's Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma
- Literature News Verdict
The Tailor’s Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma is a literary fiction that depicts a realistic picture of India before Independence. It follows the story of a Brahmin family of Sir Saraswati Chandra Ranabakshi and his wife and three children.