The write-up on the back of the edition of An Obedient Father that I read describes Sharma’s protagonist as a bit of a Dostoevskyian anti-hero. This makes sense: Sharma gives us a corrupt, alcoholic, child-molesting bureaucrat as the vehicle through which most of the story is told. And—call me old fashioned—this makes the story just that much harder to get through; any time you have a protagonist so wretched, so miserable, so abhorrent that you are viscerally—even physically—angered by them… Well, good luck finishing; you’re unlikely to enjoy the story.
So where does that leave us? Is this worth reading? Yes, perhaps.
The catch is that there is a fine line between what’s gratuitous and what is simply graphic. Fortunately, Sharma gets all (or at least most) of this out of the way in the first 50 pages or so. But you may find that you need a strong stomach to get through those first 3 or so chapters. That said, if it weren’t for chapter 21, I might have abandoned it.
At the heart of this story is a tale of the consequences that follow corruption and moral ambiguity. It is gripping and powerful at moments but kind of shambling and listless at others.
- Sadly (and confusingly) one of only two where the first-person narrator is not Ram; and that final dangling chapter in the third-person… how does that fit in? [↩]
About Rob FrieselSoftware engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →
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