Anchor by Avik Chanda will be a treat for those born in the Naxal belt in India.
The book, based in a small village 70 km from Kolkata, is set around the time naxalism had just been crushed. However, in the book, the rebel idea survives, making people ever ready to fight injustice. The historical adventure takes the reader through a journey that resembles the plight of the common man today who has to fight mighty politicians, corrupt cops and indifferent society to survive. The main characters of the book include a suave but ruthless politician, for whom no means are too brutal when it comes to achieving his objectives; a gang of hardened criminals ready to do his bidding; helpless villagers who are mere pawns in a bigger game; and the editors of The Sentinel newspaper.
The plot revolves around a former Naxal who seems to have gone missing at a critical juncture. A veteran journalist, accompanied by a young and naive sub-editor, are determined to find out the truth behind his disappearance. However, the politician is equally determined to stop the truth from getting out.
Featuring bureaucrats, socialites, policemen and fearless reporters, Chanda takes the reader through a riveting story told intelligently with sly humour. Over the course of a stifling, rain-soaked night, the lives of these myriad characters intertwine, clash and are changed inexorably. The book gets its name from the terminology used in newspapers for a story—the anchor—generally featured at the bottom of a news page. Chanda names the book so because in the book a group of anxious editors are waiting in the newsroom of The Sentinel for the night to pass and the next day’s ‘anchor’ to unfold in the village on the outskirts of Kolkata.
Chanda’s debut novel presents a picture of Bengal in the late 1990s—a vast metropolis bustling with life. Serving as its foil is the tiny fictional village, a pivotal part of the story. Each chapter of the book starts with a clock on the top, helping readers to immediately understand the scene and saving Chanda a lot of details. All in all, Anchor is a great read for a relaxed weekend.