Goodreads blurb: It is every dad’s nightmare – his little girl goes missing.
For Palash, the sorrow compounds from the incessant replaying of the critical minutes when his ‘Daddy-eye’ faltered, distracted by his own weakness, substance abuse. The loss and the ensuing search sends him spiraling into a divorce and the loss of a steady corporate job. Scouring for his little girl in the brothels of Pattaya he is ensnared in the web of mafia that runs the sex trade of Thailand. When he eventually finds her, will he be able to build back a wasted lifetime, or, is it too late for rescue, for him and his child?
An extremely unconventional book to say the least, I mean any book which waits for 184 pages before someone addresses the protagonist by his name, Palash Mitra, can only be called that, right.
When Li Ya, Palash’s young daughter goes missing on a family holiday in Pattaya, when he was distracted purchasing drugs from a pusher, that begins an unending spiral of uncontrolled and unmitigated disaster with his fragile marriage breaking apart and him losing his job due to his refusal to play ‘ball’ and overlook some spurious practices. As if this wasn’t enough, his substance abuse problem leads him further and further down on the path to self-destruction and pretty soon he finds himself with no purpose in life.
He then takes it upon himself to hunt down his daughter in the brothels of Pattaya where he last saw her and this ends up being serendipitous in terms of the fact that it helps him uncover the truth about her disappearance in a completely unforeseen manner. Assisted by the mysterious Thuy Binh and her confidante Miho, Palash’s life then takes a completely different turn and he starts afresh.
However, one moment when he lets his guard down brings down this particular house of cards also tumbling down all around him. Whether he manages to get his life back together again, whether he manages to meet his daughter Li Ya again forms the crux of the rest of the narrative.
This book is very unconventional in the sense that the first third of the book almost entirely deals with the protagonist talking to himself in his mind. By playing on the substance abuse issue that Palash is grappling with, the author uses this to provide readers with an entirely different point of view of the events unfolding in the narrative. Far from being angry with Palash, I wouldn’t be surprised if most readers ended up sympathizing with his plight in this portion, more so by the end of the book when a whole lot of other things unravel themselves.
And I have to admit that the first third makes for some tough reading at times when I felt frustrated with what Palash was doing (or rather not doing right). In hindsight, I realize that this feeling contributed more than quite a bit to me rooting for him in the last third of the book. While the ending is a little contrived and seems inspired by Hollywood, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is an enjoyable book.
An unconventional storyline which is as much of the protagonist losing himself in Pattaya as much as it is about him losing his daughter there, this book managed to strike the right chords with me with its gritty, unflinching portrayal of the sex trade and the plight of prostitutes in Thailand. It also manages to provide a small insight into what substance abuse addicts face when they are high, or when their high wears off as well. This to me, was a personal first, to read a book which managed to help me visualize addiction in an entirely new light.
The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.