Overall Ratings- 4/5
Age Recommended: 13 and up
It’s not very often that we receive review copies of books that completely take us by surprise. The Tree With A Thousand Apples was certainly one of them.
I belong to a region that I haven’t visited for the past seven years. The reason? It’s ‘terribly unsafe’. Between 1980 and 1990, among other Kashmiri Pandits who fled the gorgeous valley, were my relatives. After over two centuries of residing there, the descendents of our ‘Kaul’ clan unfortunately were left with no choice but to leave the valley which they once called home. Slogans saying “Asi gacchi Pakistan, Batav ros te Batanev san” ( We want a Pakistan along with HIndu women but without their men) were openly glorified while most women my dad’s own aunt, chose to hide themselves in closets along with matchsticks (to set themselves on fire) for defense from the ferocious protestors who could barge into the house any moment.
This isn’t my home. You don’t know what it is to be on a lifelong exile. I have no home.
The issue of Kasmir is a one that is incredibly close to my heart and so, when I was approached by the author with the request of an honest review, I obviously could not refuse.
The Tree With a Thousand Apples revolves around three friends Bilal, Safeena and Deewan, whose paths cross twenty years after they witnessed the ‘Paradise on Earth’ shatter before their eyes.
To put it quite simply, this was undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read till date and the fact that my mother finished it before me, is proof enough of the same *chuckles* . Sanchit Gupta has very beautifully shed light on the condition of both the Hindu and Muslim communities and the aftermath of the brutal riots of 1990 without exaggerating too much or being biased towards any one party.
“They want a hero to worship, and a villain to condemn. They have found their villain today, and they would cherish it for as long as they can, till another one comes along.”
The language used by the author is simple yet so beautiful that it, at times, has you wanting to linger about over the same lines over and over again. The detailed & delightful descriptions of the various incidents by Sanchit are enough to prove what an expert the author is at visual imagery. The storytelling skills of Sanchit Gupta in fact, almost had me visualizing the whole book as an actual film!
“The moon and the stars sigh. The days elude them, but they are the ones who witness the sorrows of the night. How they wish they could resolve the unbound grief of the human heart. If only, they could know what it was looking for. If only, unbound joy could be the answer.”
The best part of the book in my opinion, was the fact that instead of forcing opinions onto you, it gives you an honest insight into the story that lies on both sides of the coin, without showing any of the two sides in bad light.
To sum up, The Tree With a Thousand Apples is an honest and heart-wrenching story about a shocking past, a strikingly strong bond of friendship and the lengths we go to to keep them from snapping. Written in an enrichingly elaborate way with apt cultural references, The Tree With A Thousand Apples is a turning point in Indian writing; the next big thing.