Out of many novels I have read recently, American Maharajah caught my attention because of its simplicity and its subtle art of storytelling which could be even more impactful had the plot been as good as the two – story and narrative. Nevertheless, the novel is based on the confusions of an Indo-American young man, Ravi Shankar. Since the childhood, the guy understands that he was born in the USA and has been raised here. Moreover, he is also somehow managing his life in the busy dust of the USA – working as an IT guy in a company and being in a relationship with Melissa, a lady working in the same company as him.
The novel changes entirely when the guy visits India for the first time as a mere spectator of the great country. He does not like it first because of the tension of breaking up with Melissa just before his flight took off from the USA for India. And after being lost in the deserts of Rajasthan, Ravi is almost dead sans water. However, when he opens his eyes after being unconscious, he finds himself in a palace of some Indian maharajah in Rajasthan where he finds a young lady helping him.
So, after that, the confusion comes clear; Ravi is thought to be Amar by these two – the king and that beautiful lady named Aishani. He is baffled but he discovers the shocking things himself – his and Amar’s photos match exactly. The more confusion emerges when he finds out that Amar has been dead and he is supposed to be the reincarnation of Amar!
This is the basic storyline of the novel American Maharajah and the novel has more than this. Ravi’s experiences in India and his confusions. However, the themes of destiny and modern life come in the open once you start reading the novel. For more than 30 years, Ravi has been in the USA but did not live anything he did there. Coming to India, he does not only finds himself relaxed but also keeps thinking about Aishani and the king even when he is back home! Is the author hinting at fate?
Other things that you will like in the novel is a carefree character named Sushil, who is also the driver-guide of Ravi in India. Aishani also impresses the readers with her qualities and her understanding of life. A character that you will discover only later is named Lakshmi and she is very important for the novel’s story and also the plot.
On the aspects of fiction, the plot is simple and because of the art of storytelling and the use of simple language, it becomes active and somehow holds the readers’ attention for long. You will like and appreciate the way Mark Stephen Levy has kept his novel a contemporary piece of literary art and did not let it become something else altogether. Stil, as I said earlier, a little more in the plot could have made it even more exciting and thrilling but then, that could have made it something else as well!
For a one-time read, American Maharajah is a very good novel. You will enjoy the story of a guy finding his true life and destination in a village in Rajasthan…
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review by Amitesh for Indian Book Lovers