Mark Stephen Levy has been a regular tourist to India and he has written a novel in the past as well. However, his latest novel, American Maharajah, comes with a surprise element and a beautiful story – an American man visits India (though he is already a native Indian) and discovers strange facts about his identical – Amar, a person who has already been dead. His second visit to India to rediscover things about his birth makes thing so complicated before the ultimate truth is dug out – he remains in India – over! However, this novel isn’t as simple as I have narrated the story here. Once you start reading and get into the context of the text, you will be elated, for sure. Let’s slip into the intellectual review of American Maharajah now.
There is nothing American about American Maharajah except for the introduction of Melissa, an American girlfriend of Ravi Shankar, the protagonist. Melissa, moreover, fades into the abyss of narrative just after she is introduced. So, there is absolutely nothing American about this novel. It is outrightly an Indian novel based on an Indian story and drives the core of its theme from a Rajasthani folklore which tells about the reincarnation and aftermaths after the reincarnation of a prince in some state called Bharathambhor, in Rajasthan, many centuries ago. And I am willing to admit that the theme has been handled more an Indian way by Mark, the author.
The character of Ravi Shankar, though the protagonist he is, isn’t that powerful in the novel. He is a simple guy before knowing that he might be the prince who died some years ago and has come back. Ravi is an average guy who does not find himself satisfied with the things he does in the IT company, USA. His character has been vividly portrayed with the lapses and abilities which certainly matches a typical NRI or an Indo-American guy. Aishani has also been characterised a very decorative way – an English speaking Hindustani ladki who has been educated in London and was betrothed to the prince who died in her very childhood.
The story unfolds very persuasively with the help of a plot which has been designed with certain maturity by the author. He does not let the kite soar independently at the same time managing to give it the desired freedom which might keep the kite happy. Introduction of limited characters at the proper time has been the key to the plot which makes the novel sensible and quite complete.
Language has not been an issue in American Maharajah. The author has tried to look Indian with his language and he has tasted the success to a great extent and sometimes looking weird as well.
The conclusion is a mystery unfolded with some supernatural twist which makes the novel heads I win tails you lose type of fiction for both kinds of the readers – those who might have expected the reincarnation to be true and those who might have been expecting just a coincidence angle. Be careful, I am just using my words figuratively.
To conclude, American Maharajah is a novel which can be enjoyed by the readers who want to read happy ending fiction pieces in which, the protagonist has to make both the ends meet to drive the novel to a happy ending. A struggle is there; the reward is there – the novel is a good work of fiction!
Get a copy of American Maharajah from the Amazon link below:
review by Abhishek for IR