Book Review: The Harappa Files by Sarnath Banerjee

Title: The Harappa Files
Author: Sarnath Banerjee
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9789350290316
Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
PP: 214 pages
Price: Rs. 499
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

From Corridor to The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers, I have loved Sarnath Banerjee’s writing. The bite in the humour is enough to crack you up and at the same time contemplate on the condition of things around you and he manages to evoke those feelings without trying too hard. All of this while presenting his works in the graphic form. So it is no surprise that I would highly recommend, “The Harappa Files” to anyone who reads or cares to read books.

“The Harappa Files” is an unusual piece of work (like the other two written by him) and it chronicles India of the 80’s and how somehow India is still stuck there – right where we thought we had developed from. These forty-one short vignettes not only represent a rude slice-of-life, they also cut across strata and class, reflecting society in all its fragmented and disconnected sense.

The Harappa Commission is set up by the dodgiest of various professionals from different strata of the society who come together to compile the societal concerns in the form of a graphic novel and in the introduction, hire the services of the author. While it is as simple as it looks, well it isn’t that simple anyway. The layers are hidden and somehow the reader is left wanting for more. The pieces individually collected are brilliant – from the terrible traffic jams to how Lifebuoy is the soap of the common man to masculinity to sugar as a luxury commodity – just about a commentary on everything of and about the society.

The illustrations are simple and not complex. They read more like illustrations with text (that was the idea anyway I am guessing) rather than a graphic novel. There is supposed to be a sequel to this one – as this one is only Volume 1. I for one cannot wait for an absurd sequel. Read it if you want a good laugh, fifteen minutes is the reading time and an hour of contemplation.

You can purchase the book here on Flipkart


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