Friday, November 14, 2014

Ekkos Clan by Sudipto Das

The Ekkos Clan 
Sudipto Das

The Blurb
 "The Ekkos Clan" is the story of Kratu’s search for the killers of his family, his own roots and the mystery behind his grandmother’s stories.

It’s the fascinating account of Kubha and the basketful of folklore she inherited from her ancestors. The eventful lives of Kubha and her family span a hundred years and encompass turbulent phases of Indian history. The family saga unfurls gradually, along with Kubha’s stories, through the three main characters – Kratu Sen, a grad student at Stanford, Kratu’s best friend Tista Dasgupta, and Afsar Fareedi, a linguistic palaeontologist.

Afsar hears about Kubha’s stories from Kratu in a casual conversation, but she figures that these stories are not meant to be mere bed time tales – they contain rich linguistic fossils and layers of histories.

In a bizarre incident Kratu miraculously survives an attempt on his life. His sister and uncle had not been so lucky. Were these murders acts of revenge, or a larger ideological conflict connected to Kubha’s stories which conceal perilous secrets that should be suppressed?

Afsar, Kratu and Tista travel across continents to unravel the mystery of Kubha’s roots and the origin of her stories.

At a different level, the novel subtly delves into the origin of one of the oldest civilizations of the world and the first book written by mankind.

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What a horror it must have been to live during the times of partition of India! I have heard some horror stories of those times from my Dadu (grandfather). To me they were just stories. Fascinating since I was hearing it from the mouth of the experienced. Reading Ekkos Clan by Sudipto Das brought out the horrors again. Chilling! Heartfelt and sadistically fascinating. 

The story has many shades. The modern times depicting the lives of Kratu, Tits and Afsar. then the ones who were caught between the past and present in the form of Bhrigu or Kaushik and above all those who had created these situations - Kubha and Zakar.

There lives are intervined in the pages of history. The modern generation caught in the mysteries of the past and above all the intrinsic clues hidden in etymology. 

First of all, I would like to congratulate the author on his research. The effects of using mnemonic associations on vocabulary is by itself very vast and on top of that understanding and using examples of cognates from Indo-European languages is a feat to achieve. The cognates have been used very effectively in Kratu's journey to solve the mysteries of Kubha's story. 

That being said, the story to me as a reader, took my full attention. This is no light read. Those who have a slight inclination towards ancients texts and their mysteries, this is a book for them. You really have to love history (and to some extent geography :P) to enjoy this one. The best characters etched were of Kubha and Kratu. Both are different from each other yet similar to the extent that can be openly termed as genetics.Like two somnambulists, they walked on the path of destiny without caring where the path led them.

The Author uses words to draw many portraits of nature.

"He would bring us here during the evenings when the sun sank behind the smoke coming out of the tall chimneys of the factories on the Howrah side of the river. Lying on the deck and staring at the rippled reflection of the sun on the waters of the river he would talk about a totally different kind of boat ride. " 

Whether emotions or landscape he is very liberal with words, threading them across main story of Kratu's discovery of his grandma's past. There are scenes where I have felt the lump in my throat, specially when the journey of Brighu begins. When Kubha's fear of her being called a "dharshita, a despised woman" is portrayed, I shed a few tears. It was heart touching. 

The Aryan story line is also well conceive and a very controversial one. Sanskrit and the languages of North India were found to be relatives of the languages of Europe, while the Dravidian languages of south India were found to be another language family.Using this the author forms the building block of his story. Very interesting. One very interesting point that I found here was the way the European solstice were also woven in. Yes, there are lots of similarities between those festivals and ours. We are all bound to nature. 

My only peeve is the author must have been so lost in his writing, that he went on and on on some scenes. Some scenes could have been shorter and thus made the story move faster. For eg. " One group migrated to the east through the land of the Danus rivers, the big bends on Don and Volga near Volgograd, the crescent on Volga at Samara and finally reached Arkaim, travelling along the Samara and Ural rivers. This particular story—The Land of the Danus Rivers and the Ekwos Sea—seems to trace the Aryan Trail from their original homeland till the Samara Bend.’ It sounds wonderful to all the history students out there. I lapped it up but for it being a work of fiction, the writer has to walk on a thin line of too much information and story telling.

Since Sudipto Das has excelled in the art of story telling, I will overlook the 'too much information' part. :)

Would I recommend this book? To those who loved the hidden truths of the chalice in Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, it is a must read for you.

Meet the Author

Sudipto was born in Calcutta to a family which fled Bangladesh during the partition riots of 1947. He grew up listening horrid stories of the partition, something which he has used extensively in his debut novel The Ekkos Clan. He completed his engineering from IIT Kharagpur in 1996. He lives in Bangalore.

You can stalk him @



Media Mentions 

"A promising debut in the growing realm of modern Indian fiction" - Jug Suraiya 

"An Indian thriller inspired by Dan Brown & Harrison Ford!... fast-paced thriller, replete with murder and miraculous escapes" - Telegraph 

"If you are a history buff and a thriller aficionado, then [it] might just be the book for you" - The Hindu 

"A tale of the Indian civilization and culture... takes you on a roller coaster ride" - The New Indian Express 

"An interesting read for an afternoon... One feisty woman's partition story" - Bangalore Mirror 

"Should be read for its sheer aspiration and the intelligent handling of historical material" - The Sunday Guardian 

"Is essentially a mystery novel, but is grounded in a substantial base of research and exploration into our past" -

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At November 15, 2014 at 9:56 PM , Blogger Ruchira Khanna said...

Loved your review, Rubina!
I am sure the author did justice to this book :)


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