All and nothing by Raksha Bharadiya is a book that stands out in this crowd of new age Indian English Fiction! I picked it up form the Crossword store of Benguluru airport and finished it while waiting for my train at New Delhi railway station some four hours later. Now if a book can be finished in one continuous read, that does say something positive about its readability.
The central theme of the book is about life and relationships that define the existence of most of us. The story revolves round Tina, who falls in love with Aditya, a man yet to come to terms with his failed relationship with Antara. After years of matrimony, two kids and a bout of alcoholism, Tina sees Aditya going back to Antara. Emotionally shattered and alone, she tries to come to terms with her life as well as try to make sense of the lives of few of her friends. Then we have Manas, a kindred soul and his mercurial relationship with Gayatri. There is Kriya, born to a celebrity father and struggling to hide her mediocrity by covering it with a veneer of success. Poorvi, born with the proverbial silver spoon, has her own problems in life, mostly to do with her inability to produce a male heir for her family. Upasna is a victim of recurrent domestic violence. You will have to read the book to find out whether they are able to come to terms with the vexing questions that plague their lives or not?
Raksha weaves this story of urban angst, relationships and contemporary life with a lot of skill and maturity. Her language is simple, yet elegant. The characters are well etched, the situations real and plausible, and at the same time she manages to ask uncomfortable questions about the male dominance in our society without getting too preachy.
As for weaknesses, there aren’t too many, but I think the liberal use of vernacular (Bangla, in this case) could have been avoided. The cover could have been a brighter colour than the deep melancholy blue but these are minor issues.
Priced at a reasonable Rs.95.00 and published by Rupa, the book is strongly recommended for every booklover. I would rate it at 3.5/5.