Title: The Liar's Weave
Author: Tashan Mehta
Publisher: Juggernaut Books
Tashan Mehta’s debut is about a Parsi boy who’s born without a future. What’s that, you ask? Let me break it down for you. The protagonist of the novel, Zahan Merchant, is a naïve boy from the Parsi community of 1920 India whose future is uncertain and unpredictable. What’s new here? Well, Zahan’s world is different from ours and not knowing one’s future there is unheard of.
Mehta spins an alternate history of our world as we know. In her version, birth charts are real and one’s life is mapped out in the stars. Except — of course — for the protagonist, whose future couldn’t be determined as the most noted astrologist of that time couldn’t read his birth chart. It’s a cosmic mistake, so the gods compensate for it by giving Zahan an unusual power: the ability to change reality with his lies. Is it then a blessing or a curse? That you’ll need to find out on your own for if Zahan lies, he creates reality.
As seasoned readers, we all know that the consequences of magic can be wondrous, yet heartbreaking. So when Zahan sets out on his adventures armed with his unique ability along with his friend Porthos, he is drawn into a secret forest full of ill-fated people and his power becomes more dangerous to him and those he loves.
While reading Mehta I couldn’t stop myself from drawing parallels between her novel and that of Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children.’ For one, both the novels have been written against the backdrop of India’s struggle for independence. Then there’s the shadowy and talismanic tone with perfect pacing and alluring imagery that is employed in both the books which simply can’t be ignored. Whether this is Mehta’s conscious choice or not will become clear with her subsequent works. But for now she has done a decent job.
Mehta’s language is stylised, giving her work a refreshing flavour. However, at times it becomes cumbersome and is confusing. The novel ultimately challenges both patience and comprehension with events and characters taking too long to come together. But if one can overcome this tiny bump, the story itself has something novel to offer.
About the Author
Tashan Mehta was awarded the Sangam House Writer’s Residency in 2015, and has been longlisted for the TFA prize for fiction for two years. Her writing has appeared in literary journals such as OUT OF PRINT and NOTES, an Oxbridge publication. The Liar’s Weave is her first novel.