Mark Stephen Levy is a seasoned author – you have to admit it! He might have written only two novels but his second novel only shows how mature as an author he is. American Maharajah is a ‘whole’ piece of fiction which does not leave any space left for further addition – a complete novel. However, there are certain things which, a reader might argue, could be improved and that should be a valid argument as well because there are things like depth in characters and a little more curve in the plot which could have been explored… nonetheless, the novel is certainly a belter piece of fiction compared to the recent ones that I have read.
The story offered to the readers mainly focuses on Ravi, a US brought-up man, who comes to India to discover the land of his parents. His trip is marked with reluctance and dejection as he is deeply in sorrows because of a break-up with his girl, Melissa. Nevertheless, his journey to India gives the novel an impetus and we get to know the characters who claim to know Ravi (and they call him Amar instead of Ravi). Thought to be the reincarnation of the son of a maharajah who had died some years ago, Ravi’s confusion gets multiplied when he realises that the pictures of Amar are exactly like him!
American Maharajah is based upon a legend which claims that the son of a maharajah in the ancient times had come back from the dead but with his arrival, a curse swept the kingdom – the spring vanished and people died without water. So, if Ravi is the reincarnation, what would happen next? If he is not the reincarnation, who is Amar? Ravi faces a troublesome existential crisis and he rushes back to the USA when he gets to know about his father who has been admitted to the hospital. But the facts that he knows from his supposed parents are wearier and he has to come back to India – almost hurried.
Mark’s storytelling skills are certainly friendly and maintain a pace with the readers of different nature alike – be it a fast reader or be it a casual reader. He has told the story beautifully. He has unfolded the folds of the plot lightly and did not venture to hide more and tell less. His understanding of the Indian rural psyche is equally commendable!
On the side of lacking features, I would certainly like to mention that the novel could be better if the author could have given a little more attention to one or two more characters. Otherwise, we are only left with the characters in a very limited number – Ravi, Aishani and vacuum! Readers might want to know what happened to Ravi’s parents in the USA; what happened to Melissa; how did Suraj Pershad die… the author might have wanted to explore Ravi’s conflicts more than anything else and then we have to agree with his style of writing and his techniques…
To cut things short, American Maharajah is certainly an interesting novel. It might not be that entertaining as other novels are, but it certainly has the features to keep the readers attached to the story. A contemporary piece of fiction with a certain degree of class – we might call the novel with this long-tailed adjective! If you are ready to explore a fiction this weekend, do read this novel because it will certainly do the job you might want it to do. Happy reading!
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Amit Mishra is an economist by education; a literature enthusiast by interest; a sportsperson by physique; a kind and straightforward person by nature and a human being by default. You can read his posts on various topics on this personal website of him.