By Abhay Majhi
Mussoorie, 20 Nov: The book launches that occurred in the Writers’ Bar Hall at the fourth edition of the Valley Of Words Literary Festival featured authors Raj Kanwar, Aloke Lal and Mukul Kumari. The session was expertly chaired. The session introduced a whole new world of literary pieces for the readers as the writers talked about their life, their struggles and the stories behind their passion of writing.
Raj Kanwar’s Dateline Dehradun was the first book launch of the session. A nonagenarian, he does not seem to stop pursuing his passion of penning down his amazing thoughts any moment now. His passion and expertise of writing convincing and real stories have already been established by his three previous books. Although initially starting off as a journalist, he drifted to writing stories of the scenic city of Dehradun. He describes Dehradun as a city full of the ‘X-Factor’ and also goes on to call himself the twin brother of the city, as he has grown with it. The main affinity towards the city came from one of its main defining and unique characteristics; that is, it is a city full of all the good qualities but lacks all the negative qualities of a major city. Even his book talks about the famous personalities that have resided in the city and have generously added to the beauty of it. Ruskin Bond, who also features in his book, as considered by Kanwar was the one who inspired him to write and to make writing a career. Although not a storyteller, Kanwar tells the story of anything that is under the sun, penning vigorously about the lives of men and women of the city. Even his next book, Writer of Obituaries, is focussed on the bitter-sweet relationships of the couples of the city.
The next book launched has been written by Aloke Lal, a former director general of police and a celebrated painter. His book, ‘The Barabanki Narcos’, is already out on several platforms and creating waves of excitement across the country along with getting rave reviews over its unputdownable style and thrilling plot which appears to be directly lifted from some Mexican crime movie. The book covers his adventures and stories during his time in Barabanki, a district in Uttar Pradesh, and how he along with his team masterfully nabbed a whole drug cartel. With the perfect setting in the heartlands of a 1980s rural India, the book interweaves between the lives and daily jobs of the criminals, victims and the police officers. With an unapologetically political undertone, the story doesn’t skip a beat and continues from one mission to another. Aloke Lal has received a lot of praise with his diligent performance during his time in duty – this book is another feather in his cap. During the session he revealed some of the deadly incidents that happened during the mission, and how he saved himself from those fatal misadventures. He explained the motivations of the informers and why they helped them during the whole mission. Nonetheless, his stories of the underbelly of a developing nation are gripping and nail biting to the end. He even narrated from the book an excerpt which described his encounter with one of the wanted criminals in his office, who offered him a by-product of the drug they made. All in all, this book is sure to be on the shelf of the best thrillers of the year so far.
The third and last book was by Mukul Kumar. He had a very illustrious career with the Indian Railways and has been awarded by the government for his dedication towards his job. His book, Catharsis, is a book of poems which he wrote and compiled through the past few years. Compared to his previous publications, As Boys Grow into Men and Seductions, which were works of fiction, this comes as a break for him as well as the readers. He talked about his love for poems and how he came to write metaphysical poems with the general theme of human value (or the lack of it) and love. He further expounds on his love of poems as he describes them as the sensible perception of one’s mind and often the biased understandings of the universal functioning of things. Kumar went on to read from three of his poems – Beggar, Old and Me and The Afternoon – all of them internationally acclaimed. His poems reflected a certain feeling of nostalgia and belongingness from the past. Most of them also seem to be inspired from his own experiences, which Kumar explicitly admits. In the end he talks about his decision and that he is content to have found a middle ground between his work and passion. This passion has brought his fame and acclaim and he is not planning to stop anytime soon.