The Indian novel scene can be divided into three major genres thrillers (Dan Brown inspired), college romance (Chetan Bhagat inspired) and mythological (Ameesh Tripathi inspired). It is against this hackneyed backdrop comes City of Spies like a fresh cool breeze in the month of summer. (Yes the publisher being Indian I chose to count it amongst the Indian novels)
Set in the tumultuous times of Pakistan City of Spies is written in the first person from the view point of Aleeya an adolescent girl. The novel has a background of the ouster of the Prime Minister and the usurpation of power by the tyrannical ruler. An ardent fan of the Prime Minister and son of the servant of our protagonist dies in a hit and run accident.
Adults think that children know nothing about their best kept secrets. In the case in hand the well kept secret is the driver of the vehicle which had hit the young boy. But children do perceive what is happening around them with their own little understandings. But they seldom understand it fully. They try their best to search those missing links. Aleeya is one such girl. Her questions remain with her even as she transforms into an adult. Finally she receives her answers that too from the very mouth of the horse. City of Spies is her journey towards those answers.
The author wonderfully articulates the difficult years of our neighboring country. They mesh up with the story without hindering it, without overshadowing it and at the same time have a personality of their own. The novel reinstates that the political upheaval in a country affects even its children including poorest of them.
The novel gives a gratifying experience of reading something really different. There is no suspense surrounding the killings. There is no any revenge saga. All that remains is how each one of us has his or her own perspectives and how the father of the deceased respects the same. The novel is highly recommended particularly for those who are fed up of reading the novels falling in the genres mentioned at the beginning.
Having said that let me point out that on page 66 of the novel tyres is misspelt as tires. I even found the title of the novel City of Spies inappropriate. It some how does not summarize the story aptly and makes the reader to conjure up his own expectations which are likely to remain unfulfilled.