Mark Stephen Levy’s second novel, to say, American Maharajah, is a book of fiction which has something of everything in it and it offers something of many things to the readers of many different sections – serious readers, trend-readers, casual-readers and everyday readers like the young school kid enjoying the high school studies in different subjects. To cut things short, the fiction has different dimensions and all the dimensions are touched with a subtle art of fiction – American Maharajah does not seem an American fiction in spite of the author’s Americana attitude and the title which does its best to dissuade the readers by adding a prefix American in front of the utterly Indian feeling – Maharajah!
The characters in the novel are wonderfully designed. Ravi Shankar, which is often referred to as Ravi only, is an American youth with forgotten Indian roots and who does not know anything more about India than the fact that India is the country which has given birth to his parents… there is another character which impresses more than any other… the driver and the guide to Ravi in India, a wonderful and cheerful person who takes life as seriously as it should be taken and as casually as it should be carried.
The plot of the novel is created lightly but with certain elements of surprise which keeps the readers indulged with the fiction. American Maharajah impresses on the language front – it is simple, localises and Indian by all means. Never you will feel like reading a fiction from the outside world. Mark has described the Indianness in a very Indian way and it has impressed me, personally as well as whenever I have described it to the groups I am involved in…
The narrative is simple and it is straightforward with not very much of the delayed-decoding or implicit meanings involved. The readers can understand the novel as they read it and they are taken into confidence by the author as things happen in the novel. No events are beyond the periphery of belief and the story is told in a beautiful way, to be frank!
And to put things further simply, I have liked the novel very much! It is a simple tale of myth and modernity which uses the beauty of Aishani and the drive of Ravi Shankar to pull the cart of fiction… You can enjoy this novel anytime you start reading it and it won’t disappoint you any day. Mark’s style of writing is very impressive and sometimes you might feel like over-pulled by the length of Indianness involved but that is only to make the readers feel that they are not away of their comfort zone.
review by Santosh