My latest novel “Exile” was released by Tarun Tejpal in January 2015 at Kamarajar Hall, Chennai. The novel is of of a thousand pages, written in Tamil. The English translation is under way, and insha allah, should finish soon. Sivakumar, who lives in Gujarat, had written a fantastic review for the novel, and you can read it here.
The most pious would regurgitate in one moment of wanton revulsion, the sporadic gluttons and sexists (as physicists are for physics) would take pleasure and may preserve few lines too and the religious can skip many verses before finding the rhapsody of religiousness (as these pages are hidden in the callous maze, where all scholars, gluttons, ‘sex’ters and ‘text’ers roam inside the pages of ‘Exile Infinite’). The benign are perplexed, for their rules are not the rules here. There is venom for the hunter and the antidote for the hunted. Call it magical realism or realism as magic, fiction in ‘auto’ mode, fictitious or whatever, but the road takes you nowhere or everywhere.   What Exile talks about?

In the introduction to Freakonomics written by Steven D Levitt, who was deemed to be the most brilliant young economist of America, the following incident was narrated.

Levitt was giving interview to the panel of Society of Fellows, the Harvard intellectual club that chooses young scholars to pursue their own works without other academic commitments. The panel included world renowned philosophers, scientists, economists etc.

One of them asked Levitt, “I am having a hard time seeing the unifying theme of your work. Could you explain it?”

Levitt was stymied and did not have any idea what a unifying theme was and whether he ever had one.

Amartya Sen (who was a panelist) jumped in and summarized what he saw as Levitt’s theme. Another scholar had a different take of the theme, next another one poured in another view.

Levitt uttered everyone was right about what they perceived his theme was.

Then Robert Nozick interfered and concluded that that guy was so talented and he had an answer for every question- it was as simple as that.

What Exile in fact talks about?

In the myriad undercurrents of the narration the readers are lost and are absolved from drawing fixed conclusions and it goes back and forth, the readers either refuse to follow or become the driving engines. As Charu often utters – one can hate or like his writings, but never can ignore him. Oxymoron does form concurrence or reject as his very adapted name itself implies; Charu Nivedita – the first part being the embodiment of peace and benediction and the second part confounding the dreaded ‘annihilation’ with the same but selective purpose.  This I believe is his ruse. His ruse starts where you don’t expect.

Exile defies the logics or methods of storytelling (if at all those are stories)-even reference to stereotype becomes stereotypic in his world. He triggers the reader to ask questions pertinent to a situation he is narrating and knock at similarities and dissimilarities they all encountered. The baits he threw were his earlier catches only under deception; the reader is a fish in waiting, those who love the bait are hooked and those that repulsed don’t leave the water. They expect the next bait lurching around his pages.

There is a character that made all of us crazy; I (many) detested its very existence in the novel. The burdens and the unrepentant cycle of misery the character suffered were actually irritants as we latched onto its illogical pretensions (Kokkorokko plays the antagonist and voices his disapproval for Anjali) Is it not life also about irritants and our acceptance or rejection to respond, either to make peace or revolt. His personal explorations in the world – the rejections, revenges, joys, betrayals, dreams, love, helplessness, dejection are all wrapped in one inconceivable package. Exile is a gift you unwrap and find; until then you only keep guessing. He hides his intentions in his myriad ways.

If we plot the emotional quotient of this novel like an ECG graph, we can actually feel the heart of the novel beat, only here the reader is expected to position the electrodes in the right places. The character of the novel changes from one chapter to another without giving out any clue of what you expect next. Uncertainty is actually a virtue, but stagnation is a malady where the soul falls and reminisces and disappears-uncertainty keeps the senses awake and alert. Exile evokes a similar feeling of standing at the precipice of life and strolling in plains at the same time. The pendulum constantly swings in overlapping and isolated eccentric circles.

But the game spoilers who contest Charu are from the Utopian society where sex, hedonism, freedom and love are banned, rather in their original forms of expression. He mocks at them, says f**k you and treats them as mere artifacts. The very paradox in the Utopian society lies in its myopic views of reality and its perception of rights and wrongs. Exile exposes this hoax and kicks hard in those burly as**s (of course away from the goal).

Charu’s Exile is Zeitgeist in action in post modern depictions. The pseudo straight guns only misfire at him with their philistine ideas. It is time Charu serves one Novel for them.