Dreams in Prussian Blue
For a long time, it seemed to me as if all Indian writers in English wrote “serious” things - complicated stories, language that needed some getting through, “big” themes, weighty tomes. And then came Chetan Bhagat and the many followers in his footsteps, who unleashed upon us a spate of poorly-written novels, mostly to do with engineering institutes and adolescent angst. It seemed as if one could either have 5-star hotel caviar or roadside vada pav; if you weren’t in the mood for the first and couldn’t stomach the second, poor you!
Luckily, times are changing. In the last couple of years, Indian writers in English are attempting every possible genre, including murder mysteries and graphic novels. There is a growing market for well-written, yet easy-to-read fiction, which is probably why Penguin has brought out a new series, Metro Reads, dubbing them “fun, feisty, fast reads.”
One of this series, Paritosh Uttam’s Dreams in Prussian Blue, would probably not qualify for the ‘fun’ bit, given its somewhat serious story, but it fulfils the rest of the criteria. Dreams in Prussian Blue is the unconventional love story of art college dropouts, Naina and Michael. The novel sticks to a small group of characters and does that well - while Michael is the anti-hero, Uttam takes the reader to the darkness behind seemingly ‘nice’ and bland characters as well.
The bonus is that while the story is novel and the characters real, the language is simple enough for the average reader. A live-in relationship, a selfish artist, a naive young woman who realizes that love and fresh air may not be enough, the Indian art world, nosy neighbours and traditional parents who can no longer hold on to their children - the plot moves forward quickly, and kept me engrossed wanting to know what happens (and plenty does!) The dialogue works too, with the lingo of the 20-something crowd captured well.
It so happened that the last few weeks, I’ve been snowed under work and reluctant to take on anything too complicated. Dreams in Prussian Blue fits perfectly into that sort of mood - when all you want is a good story.
Publisher: Penguin India
Price: Rs. 150