Our Impressions about The Hottest Summer in Years by Anuradha Kumar
"You must wish him dead. And you must wish him dead with all your waking hours and then killing him will be easy. Eichmann will be dead. Just as you want."
A book written with careful considerations and provocative plotlines, The Hottest Summer in Years by Anuradha Kumar is the kind of mature writing that perfectly embodies the delicacy and beauty of Indian Literature.
The novel begins in a whirlwind of mystery and confusion as the protagonist makes his way to Raurkela, the newly appointed manager of a German Officers Club, but what seems to be a clean start gradually leads to an intricate knot of accusations and misunderstandings.
Many characters come into play such as Das, Lipsa, Tilo, Ahmed Ali and Idris who propel the story forward. They infect the plot with their personal motivations and desires bringing about the climax as though a work of fate.
Hans Gerder is a peculiar narrator who adds a distinct flavor to the story. His reflections mediate constantly between past and the present creating innate parallels connecting complex characters and situations. He can also be an incredibly unreliable storyteller who remains too invested in his own musings and therefore is prone to revealing things too soon and confusing the readers.
'As Das would report later, it was just too convenient.' 'But all this was for later.'
And yet it is his very ability of reaching too far into the future only to reel back just in the nick of time that builds the anticipation in the novel.
His relationship with the other characters in the book is also quite notable. His conversations with Das teeter on a blunt edge between curiosity and annoyance. His interactions with Lipsa border on too much introspection and pondering about Tilo. And try as he might, he mostly fails to understand his employees' various religious requests and differences in opinion. There is also his tense relationship with his mother that repeatedly leaves him feeling vulnerable.
The title and the setting of the book provide a wonderful prominence to the story. Time and time again heat gives way to the underlying tensions and build up in the book. The dry summer sits in neat contrast to the almost poetic text and heavily political connotations.
The rich prose is truly the highlight of the book. Every word and line is deliberate and laid on top of the other as if to hide something. The narrator's suspicious past is unraveled in these crevices of narration where he can't help but think about them.
A genuine piece of art, The Hottest Summer in Years by Anuradha Kumar is a novel that is unafraid to show the beautiful but also the very ugly parts of society.