Gods of Willow : A Coming of Age Innings
Author: Amrish Kumar
Published by Roli Books
MRP: Rs. 495/-
Thank you @rolibooks for a media copy of the book.
Copy-pasting a part of the blurb here, as it does a really good job of summarizing the book. (And I don’t usually do that, so good job, whoever wrote the blurb!)
“Twenty-one-year-old Kabir Menon loves living in Hyderabad, has no idea what he wants to do with his life and believes that his fate is inexorably linked to the fortunes of the Indian cricket team. In the land of super-powered deities, the only ones that matter to him are gods made on the cricket pitch. But when divisive forces unspool the peace in his multi-cultural community, Kabir unwittingly finds himself embroiled in the conflict. Forced to move to Mumbai, he navigates love, purpose and a sense of belonging amongst a colourful cast of characters. The ensuing coming-of-age story is an unforgettably hilarious and pacy rendering of what it means to find your place in the world and the choices you make to get there. Set at the turn of the millennium when India was shifting gears, Amrish Kumar’s sparkling debut is a story of many firsts”
The story mainly revolves around Kabir Menon and the people around him like his friends, their parents, his coach etc. By the title of the book, you must have guessed that its about cricket, well yes and no. The author uses cricket as a way to explore some ethical questions, and I honestly liked the juxtapositioning. The author does a great job of bringing together a multitude of different threads and weaving them into a story that captivates the reader. The author is genuinely in love with the sport of cricket. You know it because you read it. You know it because you are in love with the sport too. You know it because you visualise the descriptions mentioned. You know it because it feels as if you are on the field yourself. To quote just one of the several descriptions,
“For players, the sounds of cricket are critical to the feet of the game. The soft accelerating crush of turf during a bowler’s run-up, the thud of landing into the stride, the grunt as he pivots muscle and limb into the release and finally the whishing, whirling leather ball hurtling at the batsman. The rhythm of sound and its intensity dictate the psyche of the batsman. If he is able to confront it, half the battle is won. If he is timid and apprehensive, then all manner of doubts creep in and he is in trouble”
Kabir somehow believes that his fortunes are linked with the Indian cricket teams. If they do well, so will he and vice versa. I have seen superstitious approaches regarding sports before, like in the movie Silver Lining’s Playbook, Robert De Niro’s character believes that his favourite baseball team’s luck is dependent on his son(Portrayed by the excellent Bradley Cooper). But here it is the exact opposite approach. And its interesting to read the authors take on it.
The book also deals with college politics, love interests and communal violence. The college politics is handles well, I don’t have the faintest clue about romance and ill just leave it at that and the communal violence part. I will also not talk about this section of the book due to conflict-of-interest.
The author tried to add some variations of nostalgic elements in the book, which to me personally , seemed forced. Maybe it was an attempt at making the characters more relatable, which was unnecessary, in my opinion.
1) PLOT: 3/5
2) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: 3/5
3) LANGUAGE/WRITING STYLE: 4/5
4) ENJOYMENT FACTOR: 3.5/5
KEETABI KEEDA RATING: 3.5/5
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