The Tree with a Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta – Book Review

The Tree with a Thousand Apples

BY: SANCHIT GUPTA

Synopsis:

Inspired by true events, this riveting narrative traces the lives of Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat and Bilal Ahanagar, three childhood friends who grow up in an atmosphere of peace and amity in Srinagar, Kashmir, until the night of 20 January 1990 changes it all.

While Deewan is forced to flee from his home, Safeena’s mother becomes ‘collateral damage’ and Bilal has to embrace a wretched life of poverty and fear. The place they called paradise becomes a battleground and their friendship struggles when fate forces them to choose sides against their will.

Twenty years later destiny brings them to a crossroads again, when they no longer know what is right and what is wrong. While both compassion and injustice have the power to transform lives, will the three friends now choose to become sinful criminals or pacifist saints?The Tree with a Thousand Apples is a universal story of cultures, belongingness, revenge and atonement. The stylized layered format, fast-paced narration and suspenseful storytelling makes for a powerful, gripping read.

Book Review:

In a time when Kashmir is perhaps the highlight of every news channel or discussions happening at college canteens, office premises or even while chatting with friends and families, this novel “The Tree with a Thousand Apples” seems very relevant and close to life. Lately, a number of books are being published with the central theme revolving around Kashmir; but this one perhaps has gained the maximum attention by readers and reviewers.

The story of The Tree With a Thousand Apples revolves around three friends Bilal, Safeena and Deewan, whose paths cross twenty years after they witnessed the ‘Paradise on Earth’ shatter before their eyes. The lives of these three childhood friends suddenly changed on the night of 20 January 1990. How their lives take dramatic turns and what happens when their paths cross again after 20 long years? Well to know this you will have to read this book which I am sure will intrigue you with its language, narration and the story.

The author Sanchit Gupta has treated the subject very sensitively and has successfully explored the loss that humanity is facing in Kashmir due to the unwarranted violence and terrorism.

This book is written so beautifully that it evoked so many emotions within me. When I was reading it, so many incidences started flashing in front of my eyes. The beautiful locales of Kashmir (we had visited in 2014), one of our Kashmiri family friends and stuff like that.

One of my ex-colleagues is a Kashmiri Pandit who had to flee from her native place along with her parents. She took a job in Delhi where I happened to meet her. I still remember (this happened sometime in the late 90s) how she prayed every day that their house gets burnt so that they can claim the compensation. It was pathetic to see someone praying for their house to get destroyed, just for the sake of survival.

The book blurb questions, “If a criminal was once a saint and a saint was once a criminal, then who is the criminal and who is the saint?” What do you think? Now, this is a tough question to answer? Is it about the perspective or the situation? Is it about the challenges or the changes? How does this change happen? Well, these are some of the questions to ponder and to know the answers, you will have to read the book.

The Tree with a Thousand Apples is a brilliantly written novel that weaves the world of Kashmir beautifully. The author has poured the emotions of Kashmir in this book. The helplessness of its innocent people who are gullible and whose lives have been devastated due to the unrest in the valley have been beautifully described in it. The three protagonists and their stories showcase the miserable condition of the people who want the world to listen to them, understand them and help them. This book is a great piece of work which gives an insight of the Kashmir issue, the condition of its people.

The cover of the book is simply amazing and draws the attention at the very first glance. The binding and quality of the book is also superb. And what about the title? The moment I read the title, I was desperate to read the book. Need I say more?

The plot is fresh and full of twists and turns. The character building is brilliant and the narration style is simple and captivating. This is a book that will stay with you for a long period of time. Very different from the run of the mill mushy romance books that are available abundantly nowadays. Highly recommended to readers who want to read a good book. The book is a sincere attempt by the author Sanchit Gupta to capture the heart and soul of the Kashmir valley, the people living in Kashmir and the historic struggle going on there since the partition of India.

** I received a review copy of the book from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

 

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