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Witness the Night: A Novel Paperback – May 29, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143120972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143120971
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,282,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A thought-provoking tale.” — The Guardian (UK)

“Riveting, slow-burn murder mystery in which the new and the old India collide head on, as Desai's ballsy, maverick, and thoroughly modern heroine, Simran Singh, reveals a shocking twist on one of India's ugliest traditions.” — M. J. McGrath, author of White Heat

“We were thrilled and exhilarated by this stunning debut. Just like her feisty main character, Desai has fearlessly blown the lid on the problems that simmer under the surface of modern-day India.” — The Costa Award Judges

Witness the Night is an important novel with a compelling mystery at its heart. Simran Singh, in particular, is a terrific protagonist - the perfect guide on what is a dark and unsettling journey. Desai deserves a wide readership to go with the accolades she has already accumulated. This is a novel of genuine accomplishment.” — Simon Lelic, author of A Thousand Cuts and The Child Who

"Terrific." — The Telegraph (UK)

About the Author

Kishwar Desai is the author of the nonfiction book Darlingji: The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt. She lives in London.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Blue in Washington TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
Rich, well-plotted mystery set in the Punjab state of India. A badly traumatized teenage girl is under detention after being found amidst the bodies of a thirteen of her family members. A social worker is called in by the local police to get the girl to provide some idea of how the massacre occurred. It gradually becomes apparent to the police consultant that the young woman has much more to talk about than the murders themselves.

Like "A Suitable Boy" a generation back, this novel speaks to the social habits and mores of contemporary India. It is especially timely in light of the news stories that have appeared in recent weeks about the treatment of women in the country and attitudes about giving birth to and raising female children.

Author Kishwar Desai has created a dark and moving story with wonderful, three-dimensional characters. The novel moves along, half procedural, half autobiography, at a satisfying pace and ends with some sense of justice, but pointing to a much larger ongoing problem for India to resolve. This is a fine literary mystery by a promising new author. Recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Unabridged Chick on September 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
I inhaled this book in about three hours, unable to stop. The premise is dark and grim: a sixteen year old girl is found bound in her house, surrounded by the poisoned, stabbed, and burned members of her family. As the last one living, the police arrest her for the crime. Simran Singh, a volunteer social worker of sorts, is asked to investigate the girl's participation by an old friend who knows the family, and Simran quickly discovers that the girl's family, and this remote northern Indian town, has many dark secrets to it.

While the story is told by Simran as she goes through her investigation, we the reader are also privy to Durga's diary, notes made at Simran's suggestion. As a result,I was able to figure out the mystery about halfway through the book, but I didn't feel like the story was about solving the mystery as much as it was about watching the way the investigation unfolded -- and how the community responded to the results.

Both Durga and Simran are wonderful characters, absolutely compelling, and Desai's writing reads effortlessly. However, this book has some disturbing elements -- infanticide, child abuse, violent cruelty -- but Desai's inclusion isn't meant to be gratuitous. Knowing that -- and trusting Desai -- I found the end of the book satisfying (I had a gasp-aloud moment at the very last page -- if anyone else reads this, get in touch so I can gossip about it!).

Although this book was written as a stand alone novel, the author was encouraged to write another book featuring Simran and it seems this will become a series. I'm sort of series-ed out at the moment, but Simran is such a unique character, and Desai's writing wonderful, I know I'm going to find the next book.
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Format: Paperback
Loved the narrator's persona. I can absolutely see this as a movie or pilot to a tv series. Strong, smart, unconventional woman, very interesting story.

I found the opening chapter to be too challenging a start to the book. It should have been chapter 2 instead. Otherwise, fabulous literary contribution.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris on April 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
Witness The Night is NOT a novel for the faint of heart. Kishwar Desai took her theme in part from the Ruchika Girhotra case. [...] For U.S. readers, the style takes a bit of reading to fully appreciate, and then it makes absolute sense for this story. The horrors of female infantacide in modern India will make you wonder why we are not more aware of this-if not on U.S. news; surely on BBC. Simran Singh is an interesting character and Desai has promised she will appear again. Let's hope there will be future novels from Desai and written as superbly as Witness The Night. As with other readers, I simply couldn't stop reading.
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By tere on December 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved it! Very well written . I could not put it down. I wish this book could change the reality of women in India
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