Daily Archives: August 9, 2011

Book Review: The Valley of Masks by Tarun J. Tejpal

Title: The Valley of Masks
Author: Tarun J. Tejpal
Publisher: Fourth Estate, Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-9350290460
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 348
Price: Rs. 499
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I can tell you this much and I tell you this with extreme confidence and surety: The Valley of Masks is not like anything you have read. I have been reading books for almost three-fourths of my life and have never encountered anything like this book. The Valley of Masks grabbed me from the word. I had to put the book down and think about every chapter, every situation and every consequence due to an action. The book is that disturbing. It made me think long after I had finished the book as well.

What is the book about?

The Valley of Masks is about apathy. That is simply putting it. The book explores deeper issues – of class systems, the human race, the dogmas that surround us and ultimately about the human spirit – its failure to see and rise above everything else.

The narrator who initially goes by the name Karna, to X 470 while being trained to become a warrior (again, how appropriate is the name play) and finally as X47 as Wafadar has fled the doctrines and mountains of Aum. He is the one who decides to tell his story, the story of being hidden behind a mask, of Aum and its so-called principles.

The book is about an extremist organization that teaches violent perfection to young children; it takes priesthood to another level involving women and also strives to understand why naxalites killed and continue to kill. Aum (appropriately named) is the self-proclaimed leader of this cult – where equality is placed before everything else – so much so that they have the same face – a mask that is fitted to their face once they turn sixteen.

The more one reads the book, the more one is scared. What if this turns out to be a reality some day? The idea of how the human mind is more willing to submit and follow than stand up against. There are pages of discourse in the book, something others might not find relevant; however for me those were essential to the plot. They held the story together.

The Valley of Masks is a frightening book and it is set in times when it is highly possible for something like this to take place. This book has its moments and plenty of them, though it does go on a tangent at times. This is one book that I will definitely re-read and recommend to all.

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