The Village

Nikita Lalwani. Random, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6649-0
In Lalwani’s solid but slight novel, BBC filmmaker Ray Bhullar travels to India to make a documentary about Ashwer, an experimental penal community of men and women, all convicted murders, many of whom live with their families and travel without guards to jobs in nearby towns. A “prison with no perimeter,” Ashwer is built on the idea that “trust begets trust.” As Ray, her camerawoman Serena, and the film’s on-camera presenter, Nathan, settle into Ashwer, they must gain the trust of the inmate-residents and find the stories that will lend their film drama. They must also navigate the professional and romantic tensions that flare up among the crew. Ray is a well-constructed character, but insufferably earnest; Lalwani is on surer ground with the less deep but more real characters of Nathan, Serena, and the glib warden, Sujay Sanghvi. It’s an interesting glimpse at an unusual world, an exploration of the notions of guilt and atonement, and Lalwani shines in showing how documentarians manufacture drama. Still, the problems of three affluent filmmakers cannot compete with the stories of some of Ashwer’s inmates (like the woman in an arranged, abusive marriage who killed her husband’s mistress). Though Lalwani (Gifted) is at times too timid, her prose is evocative and excellent. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (July 9)
Reviewed on: 05/13/2013
Release date: 07/09/2013
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 149 pages - 978-0-8129-8458-3
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Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8129-7795-0
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-385-66383-0
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