“The day the dead visited the surgeon, the air in his clinic was laced with formaldehyde.”
With Night Theatre, Vikram Paralkar has crafted two thirds a masterpiece, its charm only slightly diminished by the abruptness of one element of its denouement, but which is overall germane to its central themes: the mysteries of death, and the wonders of life.
Paralkar’s novel reminded me of Murakami’s ability to blend the commonplace with the surreal and nightmarish. It’s got a beguiling simple setup. A former surgeon — now relegated to derisory general practitioner duties for reasons explained in the text — is closing up his ramshackle clinic in rural India for the night, when he is visited by an egregiously wounded family. In fact, he quickly realises, the injuries sustained by the teacher, his heavily pregnant wife, and their young son during a brutal assault are unsurvivable. Somehow — impossibly — the dead have come to the surgeon for help. They’ve made a deal with an angel in the afterlife, and they need the surgeon to mend their mortal wounds before sunrise so that they may return to life. But conditions apply to their arrangement.
As this compelling story unfolds throughout the course of a single night, the surgeon’s medical skills and faith are tested like never before; the very foundations of his belief system turned inside out. Night Theatre is beguiling, unnerving and haunting; I loved it, despite my reservations about its resolution.
Imprint: Profile Books Ltd
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publish Date: 21-Feb-2019
Country of Publication: United Kingdom