The Lesson – Sowmya Rajendran – Book Review


TheLessonGoodreads blurb: The adjustment bureau is snowed under with work, the moral police force is on the prowl. The country, but most of all the capital, must live by the Conduct Book. But it isn’t easy. Despite all the efforts of these organizations to maintain peace and social order, people, especially women, continue to flout the law – they ask for divorces, dress provocatively, drink with men and attempt to avoid marriage and childbearing. But there’s a one-man army, more effective than the entire moral police force put together, who will bring law to the land.

A vigilante who has his own methods. No matter how many wanton, difficult women there are, he will persevere for the greater good. He will shame them like they have never been shamed before. And when one particular woman’s rebellion threatens to spiral out of control, he’s called upon to remedy the situation … and teach her a lesson.

The Lesson is a dystopian satire about the violence that women live with, structural, systemic and even just the everyday sort. It is a book that will remind you that, after all these years, Big Brother is still watching you.

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With The Lesson, the author Sowmya Rajendran presents a scathing satirical and insightful look into Indian society as we know it today, filled with stereotypes of women being considered of loose morals based on the clothes they wear, with punishments like honor killings for crimes such as falling in love, etc. The author takes all of these societal ills and packages them into a dystopian futuristic city with a short, crisp and powerful narrative.

When the second daughter (the protagonist) walks into the offices of The Adjustment Bureau demanding for a divorce, she starts off a series of events which the author uses wonderfully well to present a picture of ‘the ideal society’ of the day and how it functions with guidelines and laws set down by The Adjustment Bureau and its president. And then, there’s the ultimate purveyor of justice, The Rapist, who as his name suggests dispenses with justice of the ‘highest order’.

Now, with a premise like that and characters such as the ones mentioned in the above paragraph, it is quite a no-brainer that the book is well written and the pages turn themselves with ease. What however, must be mentioned is the fact that the author doesn’t take the audience for granted and not once does the narrative become so unbelievable that it veers towards being more of science-fiction than satire, which is firmly what it is. And the ending, the last paragraph of the book delivers quite a power-packed punch which is quite the fitting finale to the narrative.

A must-read book for everybody who has thought about possible solutions to what is happening in most Indian cities today, and for fans of well written satire as well. Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

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Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review.

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