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`Read Kindle ⚟ ആരാച്ചാര്‍ [Aarachar] ⚣ Award winning novel Aarachaar Executioner is a story based on the Indian culture of caste and religion Set in Bengal, it tells the story of a family of executioners with a long lineage, beginning in the fourth century BC The protagonist of the novel, Chetna, is a strong and tenacious woman who struggles to inherit this professionAccording to noted literary critic M Leelavathy, Aarachaar is one of the best literary works produced in Malayalam and follows the legacy of O V Vijayan s classic work Khasakkinte Itihasam The novel received theKerala Sahitya Akademi Award It was also awarded the prestigious Odakkuzhal Award inand Vayalar Award in I m still in Kolkata I think It s crazy how this book stays with you long after you ve finished it and even moved on to the next book I think the protagonist in this book is as much the city as it is Chetna Grddha Mullick I m not going to give a synopsis of the story that s not how reviews work, IMO First off 3 cheers to the translator J Devika for a stupendous job of translating this from Malayalam Not even for a minute did it feel like a translated work which is a distraction for me I m still in Kolkata I think It s crazy how this book stays with you long after you ve finished it and even moved on to the next book I think the protagonist in this book is as much the city as it is Chetna Grddha Mullick I m not going to give a synopsis of the story that s not how reviews work, IMO First off 3 cheers to the translator J Devika for a stupendous job of translating this from Malayalam Not even for a minute did it feel like a translated work which is a distraction for me, esp if I know the original language which in this case, I do She s got the nuances and the evocative nature of the prose spot on For once, I didn t really mind not reading the original.Hangwoman is a story of stories The history that permeates every second of the lives of the Grddha Mullick family finds a way to enter our world too We lose track of time, of space and sometimes, our self I loved the way K R Meera has used the hangman and his daughter as master storytellers and spun tale after tale of courage, perseverance, revenge, betrayal and every other human emotion that has changed the course of history It s not just the hangwoman we read about, it is also about all those before her who moved through their times so it all culminates in a single moment when she has to decide whether or not to pull the lever I was surprised to know that the author was never a resident of Kolkata and she merely visited the city a couple of times for the sake of the book It does not read like that The glimpses we get of the Bengali way of life authentic or not, I wouldn t know is hard hitting and the imagery is unforgettable Why then have I given only 4 stars and not 5 Wellbecause of the textbook K R Meera heroine being a wee bit unbelievable I had this problem with Gospel of Yudas too the female protagonist in both books are alike they have extremely strong feelings towards the man and there just seems no basis on why and how the feelings got so powerful Somehow for me it doesn t seem real Maybe it s an exaggeration it s perfectly fine to do that in a work of fiction, but for me personally, the lack of plausibility when juxtaposed against the reality of the supporting narrative somehow makes it seem hollow and wellobviously exaggerated Might just be me That said, I liked Chetna better than Prema Hangwoman will always be a memorable read for me and it s arguably one of the best works in Indian writing Capital punishment is a sensitive question is it allowable for the state to kill somebody On a purely metaphoric level, most liberal people would say no But would your answer still be the same if the convict was, say, a sex offender who raped and tortured a girl to death More so, if she was known to you Is justice involving the taking of a human life, justified Is killing by the state murder or justice Is punishment justice or revenge Is capital punishment a deterrent for crimes All diffi Capital punishment is a sensitive question is it allowable for the state to kill somebody On a purely metaphoric level, most liberal people would say no But would your answer still be the same if the convict was, say, a sex offender who raped and tortured a girl to death More so, if she was known to you Is justice involving the taking of a human life, justified Is killing by the state murder or justice Is punishment justice or revenge Is capital punishment a deterrent for crimes All difficult questions Most of us shy away from these I know I do but they have to be asked all the same.Meera does it, and much , through this novel However, it is not a political polemic While asking these questions, the story digs down into our psyche, to the subterranean depths where the archetypes lie.And there the questions asked are muchbasic and muchdifficult What does it mean to be a woman and a human being in today s society There are no easy answers Maybe, there are no answers, period they are not required.Because the question is what is important Chetana Grddha Malik is a hangman s daughter and a potential hangwoman of the future, as he has no male heirs other than the disabled Ramu Yatindranath Banerji is a convicted killer, waiting for the hangman s noose a hanging in which Chetana will assist her father, Phani Bhushan, as India s first female executioner.It would have been all business as usual had not the TV channels got hold of it As with any controversial news item in contemporary India, Banerji s hanging becomes a national spectacle, a chance to boost the TRP of the reality news channels Sanjiv Kumar Mitra of the C.N.C is the first to sink his predatory teeth into this juicy situation and also into the beautiful and desirable Chetana He wants her to be the exclusive property of his channel on camera and his, off it.As the novel progresses and we move towards Yatindranath Banerji s inevitable death, Sanjiv and Chetana dance around a complicated concoction of lust, filth, deceit and death The ending, when it finally comes after 500 pages is expected yet fitting and devastating Meera is a terrific writer There is very little beauty in this novel and there is a lot of ugliness That she has made it so absorbing, so that one willfully endures so much unpleasantness is a tribute her skill as a wordsmith.Chetana s hovel is situated on Neem Tala Ghat, where people take their relatives to be cremated The novel has endless descriptions of dead bodies and mourning relatives, narrated through her deadpan voice interspersed with her father s stories of his exploits as a hangman who has executedthan four hundred people Among the people who are cremated, there are murder victims too many of them young girls who have been raped, mutilated and murdered by sexual predators like Yatindranath Banerji The narrative dances between two types of killing, one by the state and one by the social deviants The narrator who is also the protagonist of the story does not take sides It seems as though Chetana just wants us to see it as it is through her eyes, which has seen and absorbed a lot in twenty three years.Chetana s home is also disturbingly full of the themes of pain and mutilation Her brother Ramu is a practically a vegetable his limbs have been hacked off by the father of a convict Phani Bhushan hanged Phani Bhushan himself is a libertine, frequently visiting Kolkata s red light district, Sona Gacchi His brother, who stays with him is practically an invalid, having been marked by the excruciating torture he suffered as a communist under The Emergency In this hell house, the person Chetana is most attached to is her grandma, who isthan a century old a crone figure who tells stories from myth, legend and history.The second theme is the lust affair it would be dishonest to call it a love affair between Chetana and Sanjiv The reporter makes no secret of his lust for her the first time he sees Chetana, he tells her that I want to experience you at least once The second time, he squeezes her left breast This is highly symbolic, IMO Kannagi, the heroine of Silappadikaram burns down Madhura by tearing off her left nipple and flinging it at the city Later, she is enshrined as an incarnation of the Goddess Durga Buton this later The significant thing is that Chetana also lusts for Sanjiv, and her left breast throbs every time she feels the hots.Sanjiv Kumar Mitra who is a kleptomaniac needs Chetana physically as well as commercially He wastes no time in buying her time exclusively for his channel, thus virtually owning her He wastes no time in marketing her as well as the misery of the murderer s and the victim s family He is a man without emotions, only lust for riches, for fame and for pleasures of the flesh and the hanging is only a studio production to raise the ratings for his channel As his family history is revealed towards the end of the novel, we get an idea of what makes this complex creation tick Surprisingly, the ethics of capital punishment is not discussed openly Rather, the author cleverly presents it as QA during Chetana s TV show, her father s bombastic speeches to journalists justifying it, and opinions of various characters, both pro and con But the political subtext is very clear and most effective, especially when various hangings from the stories told to her by her grandma are graphically described to us by Chetana.But the most powerful theme is the undercurrent of frightening and bloodthirsty feminity which permeates the narrative the punishing mother, the toothed vagina that men have sublimated through their myths and stories and either locked up as the madwoman in the attic or elevated to a pedestal as goddess It is no accident that this novel is set in Bengal, I feel, as Durga s fearsome dance of death is part of the Bengali psyche and being from Kerala, a state where women s mysteries still manifest as an undercurrent in many festivals Thiruvathira being the prime example , the author can very well appreciate it.Chetana can tie a hangman s knot in seconds she does that with her dupatta and uses it on would be molesters to great effect She feels connected to various legendary heroines of myth, legend and history, whether from her own family or otherwise, who had used the power of the eternal feminine on hapless males the power of the soft seductress as well as that of the fierce Devi It is no coincidence that the earth from the front yard of the courtesans of Sona Gacchi is used to make the idols of the goddess for Durga Puja All the things described above makes this novel good What makes it great is its structure.India has a great tradition of storytelling However, the structure of Indian stories and myths are not linear in the traditional sense Starting with a central story, the narrative meanders through a twisted path with many byways and many a time, the narrator takes detours Sometimes even the byways have byways branching off them It is quite common, by the end of the story, for the listener to be confused as to exactly where he is but the bard keeps on singing, and ultimately reaches the end, tying up all the loose ends in the process.The Katha Sarith Sagara and the Mahabharata are two well known examples of the above technique As one gets accustomed to the Indian timeless way of telling stories, one starts not getting disturbed by the detours In fact, one starts to savour them, to relish them, to enjoy each sub story which could be each made into an epic in its own right In fact, many Mahabharata tales have become movies, novels and plays in various Indian languages.This is the structure Meera adopts, and it is fascinating I have seen criticisms of the novel saying that it should have been edited down and I strongly disagree Each of the chapters is an episode, as well as a stirring tale in its own right and it is to be enjoyed as such India cannot be rushed So sit back in your chair, ladies and gentlemen, and travel along with this gorgeously terrifying executioner on the most terrifying and exhilarating journey of her life.I guarantee that you will not regret it Chetna Now, that s A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH OMG The strongest and mightiest female character ever in Malayalam literature atleast in my humble opinion An extraordinary book , that deals with the topic of Capital Punishment, the long and fascinating history of the Hangman family of the Grudha Malliks and so muchThe atmosphere it creates in the reader s mind is just so intruiging and at the same time so haunting, relevant, scathing, brilliant and reveting The story is Chetna Now, that s A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH OMG The strongest and mightiest female character ever in Malayalam literature atleast in my humble opinion An extraordinary book , that deals with the topic of Capital Punishment, the long and fascinating history of the Hangman family of the Grudha Malliks and so muchThe atmosphere it creates in the reader s mind is just so intruiging and at the same time so haunting, relevant, scathing, brilliant and reveting The story is so well crafted and is filled with legends, myths and historical backstories which fits so, so well with the situations and ties the whole story together and forms that perfect final picture We getthan we could ask for, the fascinating history of Kolkota, the 1200 year old epic legends of the Grudda Malliks , stories, stories, andstories, and that s quite an offer I can t refuse And this perfect juxtaposition of the myths and imaginative with the realistic is what makes it unique and special.Meera so perfectly and effectively attacks and criticises the outrageous , inappropriate and disgusting behaviour of today s media, the attitude of the society towards women and the the lower class, the traditional system in India at that time and, even now of profession being based on one s cast and religion, and the book covers so many areas like, love, sex, death, life, karma, fate, life after death, and is full of profound philosophical thoughts and views The characters are so solid and well built and are very interesting, Phonibhushan Grudha Mallik, Dhakkuma, Sanjiv Kumar Mitra, Manobendra Bose, and CHETNA , like the hilsa fish that swims against the current for thousands of miles to finally reach it s destiny, her character alone is enough to make this a masterpiece A unique book, that deserves all the awards and praise it got I read the original Malayalam language edition, but I believe the English translation is equally good Shortlisted for the South Asian Literary Award Hats off to K.R Meera for this brilliant book and hoping to seeworks of her in the future.Thanks for reading 3.5Depressing, grim powerhouse, and yet beautifully crafted.The kind of book which shouldn t be kept on your shelf, rather hanging from the roof with a noose around it.It was a difficult read because of extreme negativity of characters Had many sleepless nights due to this.Within the main plot, there are 45 50 short stories about hanging and death.Unbelievable descriptions of Kolkata coming from a Malayalam writer The writing is extraordinarily good I read the English translation 51 chapter 3.5Depressing, grim powerhouse, and yet beautifully crafted.The kind of book which shouldn t be kept on your shelf, rather hanging from the roof with a noose around it.It was a difficult read because of extreme negativity of characters Had many sleepless nights due to this.Within the main plot, there are 45 50 short stories about hanging and death.Unbelievable descriptions of Kolkata coming from a Malayalam writer The writing is extraordinarily good I read the English translation 51 chapters, and every chapter is packed with a punch Too bad I couldn t handle all that grimness Hated almost every charcter.Highly recommended if you like dark and powerful writing