Chetan Raj Shrestha’s debut novel, The King’s Harvest, is a compilation of two novellas that are set in the beautiful state of Sikkim
The first thing that catches the eye about this book is the stunning cover design. The design complete with beautiful orchids truly depicts the place where both novellas are based – Sikkim. The first story is ‘An Open and Shut Case’; Police Constable Puran is hacked into forty-seven pieces by his wife Kamala. At first, the case seems easy enough to Dechen OC, the foul-mouthed lady cop in charge of the investigation but as she delves deep into the lives of the husband and wife, she discovers that nothing is as it seems. The best part about the first novella has to be the characters, the ones that stood out the most excluding Kamala and Dechen was the visiting foreigner – Straun, whose path crosses that of Dechen OC more than he would like, Sangay OC, a compassionate police officer, quite unlike his colleague and Thooli, Puran’s older daughter and main witness. Well-written and interesting, the novella also describes the beautiful surroundings and landscapes with great precision.
The second novella, ‘The Kings Harvest’ immediately takes you to the same place but in a different time, this story is about Tontem who emerges out of 32 years of isolation with his children to travel to Gangtok to give the king his share of the harvest. On the way, he tells his children about his life story which is often magical and other times packed with drama. Tontem and his children have their first encounters with electricity, cars which Tontem describes as ‘giant wheeled rats’. His children are enamoured and excited but these new experiences do not bother Tontem as his main motive is to talk to the king. Although he doesn’t get to meet the king in person but he does meet Dandu Kazi, the king’s most trusted companion who ensures that Tontem gets to speak with the king over the phone. The best part about the novella is the sense of mystery and magic in the first half, you are transported into a time when the only thing you were surrounded by was the mysteries of Mother Nature.
Chetan Raj Shrestha did a great job with his debut. It seems like he took great care while deciding on the situations and characters. It had plenty of twists and turns that will keep you intrigued till the very end. So, next weekend, download your favourite version of ‘Resham Firiri’ (often referred to in the first novella), put your feet up and allow yourself to be transported to the land of orchids.