A dazzling novel that explores the legacies that fathers bequeath their sons
Fatherhood and familial inheritances ring deep in Amitabha Bagchi's fourth novel Half the Night is Gone. Lala Motichand, a wealthy Delhi-based merchant is the lord of his palatial haveli in early 20th century India, served by a small army of servants, particularly Mange Ram, a former wrestler and his personal servant. Motichand's relationship with his three sons is strained. He expects his oldest son and heir, the England-educated Dinanath, to take over the mantle of his business. He has a tenuous hold on the spiritually inclined Diwanchand. Meanwhile he keeps a close watch on his third son, the illegitimate Makhan Lal, a schoolteacher wrapped up in the revolutionary fervour of Marx and Bhagat Singh.
Motichand and his scions are all characters, however, in the pages of ageing Hindi novelist Vishwanath. Dealing with the recent death of his own son, Vishwanath's letters provide a sharp contrast to the historical fiction penned by him. The celebrated writer uses his fiction to navigate the unbroken threads binding fathers and sons through a nostalgic reconstruction of India's feudal past.