Book Review: Rage of the Maggots by Dr Sweety Shinde


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While reviewing Dr Sweety’s debut novel, Arjun: Without A Doubt, I was enthralled by her manner of story-telling. With her unique style, she presented the well-known story of  The Mahabharata while showing a predilection for the protagonist here, the third Pandava, Arjun. However, she completely has deviated from the epic storyline in her new publication, Rage of the Maggots, which falls in the genre of medical drama.

The book has three short stories, each has completely different characters and backdrops. Yet, somewhere they are inter-connected, as they deal with enigmatic human psychē in myriad forms.  In all of them, the characters belong to worlds, which are not-so-often explored and explained, and the stories have strong women protagonists. The author, being a doctor herself, has unveiled the medical world constructing stories from the base reality.

The first story, “Blood” opens as Taj, a handsome man,  arrives at a government hospital to donate blood. Apparently, a naive and kind person, as the story progresses, the character of Taj becomes complicated and reaches the pinnacle when we discover the actual reason for his constrained relationship with his wife, Shabnam, who was once abducted by the military officials in the valley of Kashmir. The burning issues of Kashmir have been highlighted in “Blood” and, though the author hasn’t delved much deeper into them, it’s enough to give a chill down the spine. More so, as we realise, that it’s not only fictional but the reality is more brutal. However, the open-ended story has a few loose ends; the case of Captain Shalv remains a mystery, Dr Pankhudi’s fantasy doesn’t materialize into anything (there is a subtle hint in the end, though) and Shabnam’s story ends abruptly. As if, from the standpoint of a reader, the story demands a sequel. It’s not that I’m not much inclined to open-ended stories, I rather enjoy the trail they leave behind to feed our imagination, but here, I wanted to ‘know’ a tad more.

Of the three, I liked the second one most, which begins with—-

“Dhondu deeply regretted the fact that he did not possess a uterus. U-te-rus. He was not fond of the word ‘womb’. It rhymed too well with tomb.”

The unique beginning engages the reader at once. Moreover, “Emperor Dhondu” deals with a subject that seldom has been chosen as the theme by Indian writers. That a man can thrive and prosper due to the sole reason that he has a disease that is a rarity, may sound hilarious, but it also reveals the complex nature of the society we live in. Besides, the controversial issue of surrogacy and its socio-economic effects are also brought in. And, why an ill, vision-affected, colour-blind taxi-driver has been called an emperor? You’ve to reach the climax to find the answer!

The last story, “Nude” is Dr Vic’s life as he takes a detour in flashbacks while the body of another doctor, Jui, lies in front of him on the autopsy table. Vic or Vikramaditya never wanted to be a doctor. But, he had to take admission and, when he was slowly finding the mysterious world of veins, muscles, nerves and cells appealing enough, things went topsy-turvy due to Jui and Gray’s Anatomy Page 1353! That changed Vic’s way of life forever and, he became a “consultant of the deads”.
The story keeps its steady pace all through.

As I said, all the stories portray strong female characters. The author neither has preached feminism, nor she has written a diatribe against gender bias. Still, the subliminal message is there and, I appreciate that subtlety of her pen. The cover of the book, I think, could be better.

The book comes as a whiff of evening breeze in the midst of mushy romance or lame thrillers. If you, like me, are tired of the run-of-the-mill publications, go for Rage of the Maggots.

My Rating: 4/5

About The Author
The heart can be bread loafed, the brain can be peeled open, but mysteries of the mind remain unravelled. Dr Shinde Sweety (M.D, Pathology). When not peering through a microscope, she loves to swim, day-dream, sketch, do yoga, and learn new tongues – currently dabbling in Spanish & Sanskrit.
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31 responses to “Book Review: Rage of the Maggots by Dr Sweety Shinde

  1. I like the ending of your review, Maniparna. Definitely, it is nice to have a change of pace. Also, well written summaries such as yours. I trust your opinion!
    The cover should be more dark and serious, in my opinion. To be taken seriously. . . Smiles, Robin

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Honest and engaging review, Maniparna. The opening lines and the idea that a man thrives on a rare disease raise the interest bar. The other two themes are uncommon as well. Of course, Dr Sweety’s fluid writing style has a distinctive charm of its own.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well reviewed, Maniparna, as usual. Sweety’s writing style is indeed enthralling. Her present book seems to be a continuation. In her previous book, she talked about the rage in Dvapara Yuga. The present book is about the rage in Kali Yuga.

    My personal favourite is also the second one. It reminded me of the saying that the word ‘Buddha’ is the modified form of the Hindi word ‘Buddhu.’

    I find everything well defined within reason except the putting of Vic and Jui for all practical classes after 1353 incidence only because no one else was ready to accept her.

    Despite a few loose ends, the book is a good read, and one would like to read it more than once to understand the complexity involved in each story.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree, Ravish. Sweety’s writing reveals a lot with each read. The second one, it seems, has been liked by most of us. 😀
      Thanks a ton for dropping by and sharing your valuable views…

      I would like to read your review of the book. Have you published one? If yes, kindly share the link.

      Like

  4. Mani I love your reviews as your style is so literary and different from usual ones. It is remarkable how you delve into the soul of words to analyse what lies within, often what is missed by readers never escapes your discerning eye. You are also a wordsmith, I admire your mastery over the language you write in though it is not your mother tongue.
    Your review is compelling and inspiring. I must check this book as I too am intrigued by ‘Emperor Dhondu!’ Thanks for sharing an excellent review.

    Liked by 3 people

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