Madhavi N Gunasheela’s A Brigand for a Night and Other Tales spans different genres and does justice to them all. The book comes as a breath of fresh air in the midst of stale and repetitive themes that seem to have taken over fictional writing today. Be it Savitramma or even Naari or Mrs Shanmugham, they are all rooted in reality and one can easily identify with these characters as they go about taking life as it comes and facing the ups and down heroically.
Spanning different genres, the book has a variety of short stories with horror, comic strains and the tragic element. If some of the stories are based in rural areas, some are in an urban settings and they make for an interesting tapestry. Incorporating both eastern and western cultures, the author has brought out the prevailing social concerns and common Indian traditions through her writings.
The prevailing superstitions in remote regions of the country have been brought out very well in the 16 chapters of the story The House Sale. This particular story occupies a major part of the book where the protagonist, Naari is back in his homeland for completing an unfinished task which is nothing but selling of the ancestral house in a remote area of Kudremukh, the village of Hosakehalli. However, the protagonist gets caught up in local village politics and added to this, are criminals and anti-social elements indulging in murders and peddling drug . Now how Naari comes out of this maze where goons are after his house and politicians are aiding criminals to carry out their sordid activities, makes for an interesting read.
In fact, Madhavi Gunasheela in a few of her stories, reflects on outdated societal values and ways in such a manner that one should take up measures to counter the degeneration we see around us. Set in different time frames and countries, this potpourri of stories questions the reader’s opinions and views, especially a woman’s role in society. Women play the lead role in a few stories, indicating the author’s strong need to highlight issues uniquely known only to women. The occasional global background stresses how the world has come closer due to technology. If some stories have a generous dose of humor, some have underlying elements of seriousness reflecting the grim realities.