Grasslands offers a mix of fantasy, magical realism, surrealism, and absurdist fiction that explores timeless philosophical questions and the most primeval of human desires.
Table of Contents
“What about this story? Maybe, there is no story. Maybe, it is just you, desperately clinging to it.” (p. 191).
What starts with our main character forgetting an acquaintance’s birthday celebration turns into an adventure of nonsensical and epic proportions. Kentaro, Maxime, Naman, Kentaro’s gangster old roommate, his mysterious boss, a random girl they meet in a club, and a forest goddess are the stars of this drug-fueled exploration of the fuzzy edges of reality, time, identity, desire, and our constant, inherently human search for meaning. Giants, reincarnation, and samurais intermingle with mundane and even primeval aspects of human nature in Grasslands by Shekhar Khatri.
Grasslands by Shekhar Khatri is a contemporary fiction that pushes the limits of genres. I would categorize it as magical realism/surrealism. Some subplots follow a more traditional arc, while others are borderline absurdist.
This book is, at its core, a creative exploration of consciousness expansion. The author doesn’t shy away from saying that the main character is under the influence of drugs when the adventure starts. This raises the question, how much of it all really happened? Did it happen in the way it’s being told? Deep thinkers and philosophy students will love pondering the questions about reality and the malleable nature of time this novel raises. The book is also an exploration of the edges of identity. The main character doesn’t have a name, nor do any of the female characters. Some characters have more than one name. Who is who? Does it matter?
While this all might seem too intangible for many, the book is with tiny pieces of practical advice, such as “Sometimes, all you can do is take a deep breath. And move on to the next chapter.” (pp. 60-61). There’s even a bit of dark humor.
The adjective use is carefully curated to achieve maximum power and vivid impressions without relying on trite metaphors or other figures of speech. In one of my favorite examples, the trees are described as “omnipotent.” The timeless quality of the narrative is also an interesting factor. The story also takes place in an unnamed location that blends the magic of nature with the decrepitude of urban settings in a surreal melange. Most of the characters also seem to have a fluid expression of sexuality. This all adds up to create a story that works as a reflecting surface. There will be as many Grasslands as it has readers.
Readers who enjoy fantasy, surrealism, existentialism, nihilism, Eastern philosophies and religions, or absurdist fiction will love this book. This might be challenging for readers who prefer a linear, clear-cut narrative with a traditional arc. It should be noted, however, that stepping out of our comfort zone is worth it for many reasons. In this case, a study published in Psychological Science showed that readers who were challenged to read absurdist fiction improved their ability to recognize patterns.
With or without the aid of psychotropics, Grasslands is a door to what lies behind the oftentimes gloomy and repetitive reality. With its plastic narrative qualities, it becomes a mirror for anyone to find what they need…or what they didn’t know they needed.
- Title: Grasslands
- Author: Shekhar Khatri
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Theme: Magical Realism, Surrealism, Fantasy, Identity
- Publication Date: August 17, 2023
- ISBN or ASIN: B0CFD7KPP6
- Number of Pages: 205
- Minimum Audience Age: 18+
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 3
- Religious themes: 0
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 3
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 4
- Other adult themes: 4
Children’s Book Features
- Good role models for younger ones: Not specified by the author
- Moral values: Not specified by the author
- Good social manners: Not specified by the author
- Age-appropriate language and topics: Yes
- Age-appropriate illustrations: Yes
- Gained the approval of a licensed educator or professionals in a relevant field: Not specified by the author
- Based on scientifically-proven data or similar information: Not specified by the author
- Produced through industry-standard research processes: Not specified by the author
- Other relevant information:
- Content: 4 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 4 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 5 stars
- Other factors: 3 stars
- Overall: 4.3 out of 5
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