Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: Harbart

Harbart is a novel written by Nabarun Bhattacharya (in Bengali - Herbert) and translated in English by Arunava Sinha. It's a novel revolving around the life of a certain Harbart Sarkar who runs a business wherein he interacts with dead people and conveys their messages to their relatives. Before I start with the review, here's how the author summarized the book:

"Harbart Sarkar, sole proprietor of a business that brings messages from the dead to their near and dear ones left behind on earth, is found dead in his room after a night of drinking with local young men. He has killed himself. Why? Was it a threat to his business which brought him money, respect, a standing in the family, more clients and fame? Or was it a different ghost from his shadow life, where he was constantly haunted by his own unfulfilled dreams and delusions?"

Target Audience:
1. Literary Audience
2. Readers who prefer books that go beyond love stories, friendship, timepass read
3. Bengali book lovers especially those who have read "Herbert".

Plot: The book starts with a supposed death of Harbart, or was it suicide? In the subsequent chapters, the book explores the life and times of Harbart and what he went through in his childhood and the bizarre experiences which eventually led to his death. The guy had a difficult childhood, living and spending time in his unwelcoming relatives' home. His relatives were so indifferent to him that they didn't even realize Harbart had stopped going to school. Harbart, on the other hand, started reading and loving books like "All about the Afterworld". The profession he took was purely based on his life experiences and a certain dream. His enterprise was aptly named "Dialogue with the Dead". Now, is this for real? Is he actually conversing with the dead? If it's actually true, then how? Let the book answer these queries.

Writing: Harbart is truly one of a kind book. It is full of dark humor and sarcasm. It doesn't have a simple and straight forward narration. Infact, the story-telling is so complicated that I am sure many of you will flip pages throughout your reading journey. There are occasions where you won't realize if the author is narrating the scene to us or if one character in the book is having a dialogue with the other one. But trust me, the flipping is worth it! Now, I cannot comment on the book translation part as I haven't read the original book "Herbert". But I get a feel, atleast in some instances, that the translation has been a direct Bengali - English one without translating the essence. Some of the poems are just simply translated without any rhyme / soul.

Relevance in today's times: This book is a typical example of how adversity can bring about prosperity and then has the capability to take a u-turn back to adversity! There's a door open - you just need to see it, but don't try opening all the doors! Ends (money) matter and not the means! And there's loneliness. Loneliness has the ability to enlighten a person and can also kill him! The type of narration used in this book can be utilized by upcoming / new authors as it's totally different from what you would normally expect in a novel.

I personally had an amazing yet different experience reading this book. Even though there are only 147 pages to read, you will eventually realize that there's lot more information in the book covered in those 147 pages! Harbart's story is one in a million stories you will come across. And yet there could be millions of Harbart's present in this world. The difference is, this Harbart made his life count (somehow - someway)! Apart from some of the dead poems here & there, this book is a must read!

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

PS: This review is part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda. A special thanks to the BlogAdda team for selecting me for the review process.


  1. I have not heard about this author. It's good they chose you to report;-)

    Hope you have a great time between Christmas and New Year.

    Regards from Tania

  2. It's something like Ghost Whisperers. Reading it would be fun...Great review Binu.

    Happy New Year:)

  3. that's nice being selected by blogadda for the review

  4. Aliyaaazz, nice review yaar...

    Personally, I like the way u built up the review - u first mentioned wht the author's summary, plot, its intended audience n thn ur version of the writing n relevance .. very well structured n nicely organised :)

    Really nice review my friend :)

    Here’s wishing u n urs a fabulous n prosperous New Year in 2012..

    Happy New Year Binu :)

  5. Haven't heard about this author, But I like the essence of the book and the style of the author.Must read you say?, I guess I'll read it for sure. Sounds interesting. Nice Review. Thank you :-)


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