The Afterlife with Sunglasses

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The Wednesday Soul: The Afterlife With Sunglasses  by  Sorabh Pant, book reviewThis is a fairly unique romp through the afterlife with criminals, philosophers and spiritual leaders thrown in for good measure. The book begins with the death of Nyra Dubey, taser wielding vigilante, the feared Delhi Belle who stalks eve teasers in the night and appears out of nowhere to claim vengeance. However, death claims her, much to her annoyance and those in charge of the afterlife records are not quite sure whether she committed suicide or not. So she’s classified as ‘a Wednesday soul’ – souls in Pant’s fantastic world belong to days of the week with Sunday getting the highest ratings.

Nyra is annoyed, out for vengeance and still armed – to discover how her taser works out of the living world is a feat of entertaining gymnastics. Of course Pant’s afterlife is his own version, a concept peopled with souls that we’ve met in the pages of history, a world where Hitler is reduced to an amoeba on the hindquarters of a goat. The whole thing is a massive conspiracy theory with a power struggle between superhuman forces to get control of what Pant calls the Big Ball, the sun which is where all souls go after death. There are committees, subcommittees, ghost detectives, well Agatha Christie, who communicate with real world policemen in Sanskrit, in fact there is anything and everything.

And of course there is the kick you get from finding the names in history books cavorting around along with Saramans out of Lord of the Rings who turn out to be fairly moronic since they get thrown by sunglasses – that’s where ‘the afterlife with sunglasses’ which is the subtitle of the book comes from. Che Guevara, a rather disappointing Guru Dutt, Marie Curie, Gauss and that’s just a few of the people you’ll bump into. Not to mention a celestial airline called Air Awat after Indra’s elephantine mount Airawat!

Pant also has a plethora of bad puns to enjoy those who like them. His dialogue is fast and snappy, though you will have to read the whole book to grasp his afterlife terminology and what goes on where. Occasional the real world rubs shoulders with the fantasy one and some characters have the ability to see ghosts while ghosts occasionally feel that they are being haunted by humans.

Pant has been compared to Terry Pratchet and in some senses this is a fair comparison, since his world has his own rules. So much so that occasionally footnotes creep in and then creep out again to disappear from the narrative – not that you really miss the footnotes. Radha. N. Recliws is the guide or chorus who adds guiding titbits about the afterlife and she has the ability to ‘thoughtcast’ – since in that world podcasts are quite unnecessary. The tasers there get turned into iProds through a sweep of science meets spiritualism.

Ignore the proofing errors which crop up whenever a word is not common and enjoy the romp through. Sorabh Pant is a stand up comic and delivers his story in the manner one might expect. And yes, for those who suspect him of substance abuse, he confesses that he wrote the book on ‘a mixture of pineapple juice, wine and just a small kilo of cocaine’ while being obsessed with the world for five years.

The Wednesday Soul by Sorabh Pant
Published by Westland in India, 2011

Buy book online
Buy book online
Wednesday Soul, The
by Sorabh Pant

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Written by Anjana Basu
Anjana Basu

Anjana Basu works as an advertising consultant in Calcutta. In 2003, Harper Collins India brought out her novel Curses In Ivory. In 2004, she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in Scotland where she worked on her second novel, Black Tongue, published by Roli in 2007. In February 2010. her children's novel Chinku and the Wolfboy was brought out by Roli. She writes features for travel magazines and reviews for Indian newspapers.

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