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Book Review: Nazaqat by Sasha H. Singhal

What is the first thought that hits your mind when you read a blurb that talks about a small town girl entering the profession of prostitution, becoming extremely successful at it, leaving that profession after a few years and eventually turning into a successful entrepreneur?  Well I was reminded of some really bad Hindi movies which had similar story lines. The reason I still decided to read this book called Nazaqat was that I wanted to see how the author( who by the way used a pen name to write this book) had presented what appeared to be a pretty run of the mill idea to me.

Nazaqat is the story of Naazani, a shy beautiful girl from Dehradun. She moves to a metropolitan for further education but after a series of events, she decides to adopt prostitution, becomes Nazaqat and in no time turns into one of the most successful high profile escorts of the city with the help of her manager Sharat. A few years later Matthews, an unsuccessful author who had interviewed Nazaqat a while back is invited by Naazani to pen down her biography. He visits her each night and in a series of ten nights, her story finds its crescendo.
To my surprise, the book turned out to be completely different than how it was described in the blurb. I guess we have that perception that instantly attaches a victim’s role to the woman in such stories. Naazani started working as a prostitute on her own will which challenges a lot of notions we have and thus a very interesting tone for the story was set.  I also liked was how the author had addresses alot of serious issues like sex education, bullying, feminism and  homosexuality as he told us more about Naazani’s life.

No major issues with the language and the style of narration. The book has a first person narrative that keeps juggling between Matthews and Naazani however the pace at which the story moves is a little tiring. I am not a big fan of skipping pages when I read something but I just had to move past certain parts of the book because i just felt the author was moving in a loop around the same thing.

The end of the book is pretty brilliant and I could have never anticipated that this story will end this way however it felt a little rushed. Nonetheless I would still give it to the author for surprising me almost throughout the book and definitely at the end.

All in all, I feel Nazaqat is the word that describes this story completely. Its a story that delicately touches upon a lot of issues in a manner that you don’t really expect it to. I just wish the author had not wasted precious pages on details that were not required and instead devoted them to give the ending the space it deserved in this story.