Author: M J Akbar
Publisher: Roli Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8174364390
Blood Brothers is M J Akbar’s amazing story of three generations of a Muslim family – based on his own – and how they deal with the fluctuating contours of Hindu-Muslim relations.
Telinipara, a small jute mill town some 30 miles north of Kolkata along the Hooghly, is a complex Rubik’s Cube of migrant Bihari workers, Hindus and Muslims; Bengalis, poor and bhadralok; and Sahibs who live in the safe, foreign world of Victoria Jute Mill. Into this scattered inhabitation enters a child on the verge of starvation, Prayaag, who is saved and adopted by a Muslim family, converts to Islam and takes on the name of Rahmatullah.
As Rahmatullah knits Telinipara into a community, friendship, love, trust and faith are continually tested by the cancer of riots. Incidents – conversion, circumcision, the arrival of plague or electricity – and a fascinating array of characters – the ultimate Brahmin, Rahmatullah’s friend Girija Maharaj, the workers’ leader, Bauna Sardar, the storyteller, Talat Mian, the poet-teacher, Syed Ashfaque, the smiling mendicant, Burha Deewana, the sincere Sahib, Simon Hogg, and then the questioning, demanding third generation of the author and his friend Kamala – interlink into a narrative of social history as well as a powerful memoir.
Blood Brothers is a chronicle of its age, its canvas as enchanting as its narrative, a personal journey through change as tensions build, stretching the bonds of a lifetime to breaking point and demanding, in the end, the greatest sacrifice. Its last chapters, written in a bare-bones, unemotional style, are the most moving as the author searches for hope amid raw wounds with a surgeon’s scalpel.
REVIEWS OF THE BOOK:
M J AKBAR’S powerful and compelling history as family narrative.
A skilfully crafted family saga down three generations packed with information of events in the country and the world, particularly changing Hindu-Muslim relations. It could be a textbook on how to write, mix fact, fiction and history. It is beautifully written; it deserves to be in Category A1.
Author & Historian
I enjoyed M J Akbar’s Blood Brothers [as though it were] my own biography... It is an exquisitely written narrative of truth disguised in fiction and ends on a note that is deeply moving and unforgettable.
Pre-eminent Bengali novelist
M J Akbar’s Blood Brothers is a marvellous work of history in the form of a deeply engaging story of a Muslim family in Bengal. The exploration of the complex interface between Muslims and Hindus over the last 150 years has the freshness of a first- person experience which it actually is. A work of considerable charm, grace and insight. A worthy companion to his earlier book Shade of Swords on the Islam/West encounter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
M J AKBAR, founder and editor-in-chief of The Asian Age, a multi-edition daily newspaper, and the Deccan Chronicle is a leading journalist and author. After successfully launching and establishing a weekly newsmagazine, Sunday, and a daily newspaper, The Telegraph, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, he briefly interrupted his career in journalism to enter politics in November 1989 as an elected representative in Parliament. He returned to writing and editing in 1993.
His last book, The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict Between Islam & Christianity, has gone into several editions, and has also been successfully published in the UK and US. His biography of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Nehru: The Making of a Nation, is a classic that remains in print more than a decade after it was first published, as does his analysis of the India-Pakistan conflict in Kashmir, Kashmir: Behind the Vale. His other books include India: The Seige Within, Riot After Riot, and a collection of his articles, Byline.