Legal Fiction: A Novel
| Book Awards 2022 | Translation from Regional Language to English
Legal Fiction: A Novel
This is like Kafka in Deoria. Or Camus in the cow belt. But more accurate to say that Legal Fiction is an urgent, literary report about how truth goes missing in our land. I read it with a racing heart.
-- Amitava Kumar, author of The Lovers
Chandan Pandey goes looking for the story that lurks just out of sight, getting under the skin of news headlines and extracting a story that is as compelling as it is devastating.
-- Annie Zaidi, author of Prelude to a Riot
Chandan Pandey has written a brilliant, gripping political novel. Legal Fiction is a nuanced, absorbing snapshot of our times -- it captures the minefield of hate politics, the intricate almost invisible fault-lines in relationships, and the power of art in imagining a better society.
-- Meena Kandasamy, author of When I Hit You
The Hindi novel was already destined to be a marker for this era. Now this translation fills a big gap, for no work originally written in English in India has scratched the surface of what Legal Fiction approaches the cold, dark centre of. Here, in the form of a thriller and the tone of an elegy, is a sharp look at a terrifying Indian -ism and the currents against it. Be ready for a heart of darkness.
-- Tanuj Solanki, author of Diwali in Muzaffarnagar
Legal fiction: A rule assuming as true something that is clearly false. Often used to get around the provisions of constitutions and legal codes.
A late-night phone call from his ex-girlfriend Anasuya forces writer Arjun Kumar to leave his wife and home in Delhi and travel to the mofussil town of Noma on the UP-Bihar border. The reason -- Anasuya's husband, Rafique Neel, a college professor and theatre director, has mysteriously disappeared.
Soon after he arrives, Arjun realizes that things are not as they seem: the police are refusing to register a missing-persons case, Rafique's student Janaki has also disappeared, and the locals are determined to turn it into a case of 'love jihad'. And when Arjun begins to dig deeper, what he finds endangers him and everyone around him.
Inspired by true events from today's India, Legal Fiction is a brilliant existential thriller and a chilling parable of our times.
Chandan Pandey is the author of three short-story collections and one novel in Hindi. He has won the Bharatiya Jnanpith's Navlekhan Award, the Shailesh Matiani Katha Puraskar, and is a recipient of the Krishna Baldev Vaid Fellowship. Bharatbhooshan Tiwari is a writer and translator in Hindi and English.