Tag Archives: Underworld

Night Prayers by Santiago Gamboa

Layout 1 Title: Night Prayers
Author: Santiago Gamboa
Translator: Howard Curtis
Publisher: Europa Editions
ISBN: 978-1609453114
Genre: Literary Crime, Literary, Crime
Pages: 302
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Reading “Night Prayers” by Santiago Gambao is like watching a movie on adrenalin. It is not only a crime novel but also a literary crime novel that takes you through the heartland of Latin America. It is also a story of sibling love and so much happening in the background, that you don’t realize when you have come to the end of the book.

“Night Prayers” may seem like it isn’t an easy read when you begin it, however, once you start, you realize it is most simple and a fabulous read at that. The book is about Manuel, a Colombian philosophy student who gets arrested in Bangkok, accused of drug trafficking. He has a sister named Juana, who he hasn’t seen for years. He longs to see her. He doesn’t even care if he is executed. All he wants is to see her.

Juana’s life has been all about protecting her brother from the mean streets of Bogotá. She decides to take him away from Bogotá – as far as she can and she is unable to. All of this happened when Manuel was a student, a dreamer and great lover of literature. Things take an ugly turn and she has to leave her brother behind. In present day, she is married to a rich Japanese businessman and lives in Tokyo.

In all of this, the Colombian counsel in Delhi wants to help and reunite the siblings and all of this with the intrigue of Manuel’s case and what actually happened there. This is in short, the story of “Night Prayers”. Now, why must you read this book? Let me tell you the reasons.

Santiago is a writer who is so skillful that he cannot write anything mediocre or bad at all. I’ve read one of his other books, “Necropolis” and it shines – I kid you not when I say that. It is intricate (just like this one), layered and characters who stay with you long after. Manuel and Juana stop becoming mere characters and become people for the reader. As a reader, I was involved in everything they did or didn’t do – the choices made and the repercussions.

For me, what also worked very well in the novel were the secondary characters – from the counsel in Delhi to the underbelly goons of Bogotá, each of them had oodles of character and charm to sustain me throughout. Santiago’s writing is essentially as though you are watching a well-scripted movie. The plot points are tight and don’t waiver. The translation by Howard Curtis is precise and does not meander into rambling at any point. The prose is chic and stylish – the dialogues even more. “Night Prayers” is the kind of book that you will race through in the span of a weekend and I’m sure you would want more by Gamboa – in that case, please keep “Necropolis” handy as well. You have to read them consequently. All in all, please visit the nearest bookshop or order these two online, right now!

Book Review: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands by S. Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges

Title: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands
Author: S. Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges
Publisher: Tranquebar Press
ISBN: 9789380283777
PP: 308 pages
Price: Rs. 250
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Yes it is true, behind every successful man, no matter what the profession, there is always a woman. A Woman who is not only strong-headed but also sly enough to accelerate the man’s thoughts and decision-making process, in the direction she wants to. And yes women rule the roost (though for some men it is hard enough to accept the fact) and that’s true.

The reason I say this is because I have just finished reading Mafia Queens of Mumbai, a realistic and hard-hitting portrait of women who were the Mafia Queens of the metropolis. It is not weird to think that young Dawood Ibrahim in need of the hour would turn to Jenabai – a freedom fighter converted to a bootlegger. Haji Mastan and the other gangsters would also consult her and act on advice given when needed. That’s what got me thinking the most while reading the book, and come to think of it, it is just but one of the thirteen accounts of the book and Jenabai stays the most in memory as she has also been portrayed by many on the silver screen.

Each of the 13 narratives are real, pieced from official documents, case reports and anecdotes. From a woman who fell in love with a gangster to avenger her husband’s death to another who convinced her husband to join the underworld only to cheat on him and forced to flee the country.

There are so many more real-life incidents in the book such as these and it makes you wonder about what takes place behind closed doors. Mafia Queens of Mumbai is real and the writers do not mince words. Almost everything is layered and nothing is ever as simple as what meets the eye. I loved the writing. It is direct, in-your-face and unapologetic and that is what makes the book so readable.

Wives, Lovers and Mistresses – they are all there in the book. They seep through the pages and their voices are clear. They have had the will to survive and all of them are survivors, in one way or the other. From prositution to being a moll to silently being hidden behind the scenes and running the show, so to say. These women fall down and rise back to action with clearer minds and stronger determination to do what it takes to find their place in the throes of the underworld.

You can also order to book here on Flipkart