Author: Saskya Jain
Publisher: Random House India
Fire under Ash by Saskya Jain is an ultimate piece of writing that you can expect from a debutant author. Before, I share my views on the story or characters or the plot, it is important that I direct your focus towards her writing skills.
Her qualifications are being truly reflected in her writing style. Apart from this, very little proportion of the authors successfully imbibes the vibes of the life revolving around us and she is one of them. Her unquestionable attention to detail is evident in her vivid description of the scene, the observation and the explanations so much so that you feel as if you are experiencing those developments physically, in person. Many a times, if I was chuckling then there were numerous instances where I could feel goose bumps with threat / fear.
As the title suggests, it revolves around a situation wherein characters are burning with latent fires that seem to be under control but is live and ferocious underneath. Youth, is an age wherein we all have burning with desires and aspirations but if untamed to right levels they turn into uncontrollable fire. Superficially, it seems that it is covered with ash with remnants from the burnt past but actually it is more fatal with latent heat that will only burn to leave untreatable scars.
The story is put forth through the channel of three voices – first is Ashwin who is a guy residing in metro city. He tries to do well but lands up only in shit and unmanageable mess; second is Lallan who hails from a village from Patna. He aspires to grow in order to earn respect and lift up his living standards but his cultures and this society bars him to rise up the ladder of class and societal stature; third is Meera – Ashwin’s sister who lives abroad but is not satisfied with her so called plastic smoldered high profile life.
All the three are burning from inside with the fire to do something and to achieve something. Ashwin is burning to find a purpose in his life; Meera has a burning desire to lead a satisfactory life while Lallan is turning ashes to rise above all. All three turn into ashes (in their own respective terms) after an incident at a party, one night. Read to dig out the remnants and what hides beneath it.
The story highlights the trivial matters from our lives such as familial associations, bonding with siblings, unconditional friendships and mean side-kicks from the jealous fellows. Based on the lives of college going students, it touches upon the every possible minute detail that anyone can spot personally. Be it metro in Delhi city or pub-life in New York or customs in non-metro areas, she has done justice with every element that constructs upon the story.
Nowhere, you will feel that there still lies a scope of improvement to provide justice either to the characters or the story itself. It is well connected and set in close proximity with the real life.
In the event, she delivers an important message and that is ‘to communicate freely with each other – be it family or friends’; or else be prepared to pay a hefty price that might even cost you your lives.
A heart-touching story finds out if the fire burning within the characters cooks up something or turns all into ash. A recommended read to catch a glimpse of an essence of the Indian culture – parenthood and friendship!
About the book
When Ashwin, a wealthy Delhi boy, meets, a struggling student from Patna looking to make his fortune, their friendship, with their mutual love for the almond-eyed Mallika, seems to transcend the fault lines of class and privilege
But one night at a party, a fateful incident leads their worlds to unravel with consequences that change both their lives forever, and expose the deep turmoil inherent in the frenetic energy of the new, aspiring India.
An audacious debut, Fire Under Ash marks the arrival of Indian fiction’s latest star, who takes a coruscating look at Delhi’s beauty and brutality, writing the city as we’ve never read it before.
About the Author
Saskya Jain was born in Ahemdabad and grew up in New Delhi. Educated in Berlin’s Free University and Columbia University, she holds an MFA in Fiction from Boston University, where she received the Florence Engel Randall Award and the Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary magazines, and one of her stories was a finalist in the 2011 Asian-American Short Story Contest. She lives in New Delhi and Berlin. Fire Under Ash is her first novel.