anyaI have known Nikhil Kumar ever since I started blogging 8 years back. I knew him as the funny guy – someone who was (and is) capable of making me laugh uproariously with his witty blog posts. So, imagine my surprise when I started reading this novel of his, which was a poignant tale of intermingled lives and chance encounters. Here was another facet to Nikhil’s writing which showcased his diversity and which made me look at him in a different light.

I have always been fascinated by how our lives are so much governed by happenstances and serendipity. We meet so many people, many of whom just brush past our life while some appear again and again and become a part of it. When I travel in a bus or Metro, I keep wondering where my fellow passengers are headed to what will happen if something extraordinary happens now that binds our life forever. Is our existence already intermingled? What if the person standing next to me is already affecting my life in a way I am not aware of?

Anya’s life begins with a girl’s letter to her mother, a girl who is ashamed to come home because of failure and shame of what she has done, and it took three days for the letter to reach her mother because of one man’s inability to read. The book throws many memorable characters at you. None of the characters have a name. They are always referred to as ‘the man with one arm’, ‘the ordinary man’, ’the boy with a twisted leg ’, ‘the magician’, ‘the tall woman with full red lips’ and so on. It’s a unique way of storytelling and it works beautifully. The theme of the book is dark and it is not a very verbose book. That I think is another achievement where the author is able to hook a reader with a few lines.

Consider the following lines –

“I had my first orgasm the day after my one-armed father died.”

“Three important things happened on the twenty-ninth of February, the year I turned sixteen: I fell in love, my father died and I fell out of love”

I have always been a fan of non-linear narration. Nikhil Kumar’s novel is an example of how to use the technique effectively. The book takes you on a journey where multiple unique story points are introduced one by one without telling the reader how and when they will converge. This creates an aura of intrigue as this beautiful story unfolds. At the end, I wished there was more of the book.

It’s a book worth picking up. I am so glad that Indian authors have started experimenting and are coming up with bold and unique ways of telling their stories. Anya’s Lyric is one such book which should be read and appreciated for its intricate and minimalistic storytelling. Do pick it up.

The book is available on Kindle and Amazon.