Author: Siddharth Tripathi
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At the first glance, I was not quite impressed with the cover of The Virgins by Siddharth Tripathi but it came as quite a surprise package. What appeals the most is that the story is entertaining till the very last page, the characters from Banaras are so vivid and the description of the city itself is catchy! It created an aura of Banaras, almost as if I have been there and experienced it all myself. Its a tale of friendship, love, deceit and Banaras.
Set up in the spiritual capital of India, the story revolves around three central characters: Pinku, Guggi and Bhandu. Pinku, who is the only son in the family of eight, consisting of six sisters and a drunkard father, is overburdened with the responsibilites of his family at a very tender age. His friend Bhandu, though very bright, has been abandoned by his father and is having a tough time facing his parents’ divorce. Guggi on the other hand is a trouble maker and is generally the reason behind getting the trio in difficulties. The plot of the book is not very strong but the enigmatic characters sort of make up for that. At times I felt that the story was simply going nowhere but my curiosity to read more about the trio kept me going, till the very end. Pinku’s transition from a hopeless lad to a decisive man who can handle his troubles is pretty amusing and Guggi’s family keeps you entertained with their quirks. The end is one of the highlights, and even though I’m very eager to talk about it, I’d leave it to you to read and discover!
Not many authors can describe the story of coming of age with such a perfection. Siddharth Tripathi takes the middle road and keeps you engaged with the characters as they learn and transform into a mature person. I loved Guggi for his weird ideas, which generally got all three into trouble yet had the air of immaturity and callousness, a phase we all go through!
In all, I would definitely recommend reading this book. The language is simple and live, almost as if the characters are talking in front of you. The narration could not be better, the characters believable and entertaining. Those of you from the towns will relate to it in a way I could not. It was a welcome change to read a book set in Banaras, rather than the ones based in IITS (tired of those!). I congratulate SIddharth for coming up with this rather than taken the IIT route which a lot of Indian authors (unfortunately) are focusing on! He has proved his skills as a writer and i’m looking forward to read more books from him.
And, @Siddharth: I loved the quotes/verses in the beginning of each chapter! I’ll certainly look forward to that in your next book also!
@Readers – It might take you a while to connect to the book, the beginning is not so strong, but once the novel catches its pace, I’m sure you’ll read the 320 pages in one go!