Days of the Turban - a book by Partap Sharma
Days of the Turban (novel)Sharma's first novel Days of the Turban (1986) presents a picture of Indian Society from the inside. It shows a country in transition, where old values are under attack from new ideas but where, in the end, the traditions and ways of life still have their place.
It tells the story of Balbir, the youngest member of a wealthy Punjabi family, the descendant of a great Brahmin warrior dynasty. In the Punjab the family counts for everything. Over-educated and bored with life in a Punjabi village, Balbir only wants to escape and get away from the demands of his ever-present family. Most of all he would like to follow his glamorous, elder brother Raskaan, who has escaped to Europe and become a rich, businessman in Berlin.
Searching for adventure and trying to raise the money to finance his escape, Balbir becomes entangled with local gunrunners. Venturing into the Golden Temple at Amritsar with a message for the Sikh extremists who have fortified it, he is held hostage to ensure that his cousin Satyavan will provide the arms the movement needs.
In describing 'Days of the Turban, Partap says: "I was accused of writing a 'generous novel'. I suppose that was because I had actually bothered to research opposing perspectives and present them without prejudice in a conflict that had its ridiculous and unreasonable aspects. The narrative was set against the horrendous events of 1984 in Punjab. More importantly, it provides an insight into the mind of extremists. It shows how extremism builds on fear and then has to reach further into terrorism, not necessarily to further its aim, but for its leadership to keep ahead of its supporters and rivals. The descent from revolutionary to terrorist can be jagged and rapid."
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Reviews:"A substantial work of fiction...with vividness and vivacity." - British Book News
"Unusual... Dramatic... Horrific." - The Observer, London
"As authentic as daylight. The language, in keeping with the ethos of Punjab, is full-blooded, earthy...Days of the Turban presents a picture of Punjab's rural society that leaves one numb with terror... Here in this book we come to grips with basic emotions. The drama builds up...it holds the attention of the reader by the margin of his mind. It is Hitchcock at his best... Days of the Turban may well go down in Indian literary history as the most definitive work of fiction on Punjab... It is this 'deep backgrounding' that is most impressive about this novel, so contemporary, so evocative that it gives one the goose pimples. It is packed with TNT and it explodes on every page." - The Times of India
"A good novel. It tells a tale, does not shy away from the ambiguities of a contemporary situation." - Deccan Herald
"...written with élan and an eye to detail and offers an insight into the goings-on in the Punjab from a human point of view." - Hindustan Times
"Partap Sharma is a fine raconteur. He is at his best on home ground picturising rural Punjab." - The Week
"A tribute to Punjab…the book has an epic sweep" The Daily