Published by: Readomania. 2016
A luminous debut of Radhika Maira Tabrez, In The Light of Darkness, published by Readomania is a gripping, heart-rending tale of estrangement and reconciliation in the most esoteric, inexplicable way. What hooked me to the book from the start to the end was a unique, heartwarming catharsis, the catharsis born out of the myriad hues of complex human emotions manifested through the tale of a vulnerable, yet rock-solid mother Susan Periera and her son Matthew, headstrong, flawed, yet victorious in his pursuit to seek a closure. The strength of the mother-son dynamics in the narrative lies in the undercurrent of tragedy woven seamlessly in the storyline, in the raw beauty and truth embedded in Matthew’s life choices, his moral dilemma and his repercussions of unraveling the truth of his harrowing past, leading to a heart-wrenching self-discovery.
An endearingly delineated tale of love and loss, set in the backdrop of the idyllic, fictitious coastal town of Bydore, In the Light of Darkness also centers around two women unrelated by blood, but brought together by the strange turns of destiny: Susan Periera and Meera Vashisht, both with hearts of gold come closer and unite through their excruciating individual sufferings, complementing each other in their pitfalls and their rising, in the complex tangled web of their lives laced with subtle, unforgettable emotions. They become the beautiful, intrinsic parts of a jigsaw puzzle carved out in the novel with such warmth, hope, beauty and uniqueness that the readers are left with a sense of the classic “calm of mind, all passions spent”, the chasms in the hearts of these two women resonating so deeply within them.
The estrangement between the mother and son and their murky past, intertwined, prepares the readers for the collective journey of emotional conflicts and Déjà vu from the very start of the novel. After Susan’s death, the letter which Matthew discovers, handwritten for him by her bears the seamlessly woven imprints of the unswerving resilience of her spirit, a resilience that shakes the very core of his beliefs, his existential questions. The catharsis is attained bit by bit, subtly and organically, as Matthew comes closer to and acknowledges the ravaged, yet resplendent spirit of his mother and the heart-rending beauty, pathos and truth of Meera who had filled in the vacuum of his mother’s life amid her most trying times. It is a collective journey of Susan, Matthew and Meera, and the friends who have been deeply touched in their life journey, attaining the final closure–Attraversiamo, in their own unique, enriching, edifying ways.
With a razor-sharp editing, an effortless narration that sometimes borders on excessive introspection, yet never loses the emotional prowess and the characteristic candor in the depiction of an unforgettable tale of human emotions, the book will linger in our hearts long after reading. There are frequent sparks of literary brilliance in the author’s delineation of characters, her visualization of the scenes and her deft handling of human relationships, which makes it a must-read book for lovers of contemporary literary fiction.