Did you know about half-Parsis?
Did you know about the ‘fifty-fifty’ Parsis?
Turns the spotlight on a previously unexplored community in Mumbai
Published by Speaking Tiger, Half-Blood by Pronoti Datta is a shining new debut that announces the arrival of a bold, witty and intelligent writer in the spectrum of Indian fiction.
At first glance, nothing seems to be extraordinary about Maya, who is the protagonist of the novel. A 34-year old journalist, she is the adopted child of a Bengali couple who constantly seems to be swimming in the deep waters of an existential crisis (who isn’t?), and in an attempt to cope with said crisis, frequently resorts to smoking pot or hanging out with her latest boyfriend. And Maya’s story would have continued along this vein, had it not been for an intriguing box of inheritance that arrives for her one day – an inheritance that leads her to Burjor Elavia.
Born in Gujarat, Burjor Elavia is a ‘fifty-fifty’ or an Adhkhachru, which means that he is the illegitimate son of a Parsi man and a tribal woman. As an young-adult, he makes his way to the vibrant city of Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay), where he lives a life in the shadows – revelling in promiscuity and recklessness. As he journeys through life, he encounters other ‘fifty-fifty’s just like himself, all of whom are leading similar lives, trying to get through from one day to the next. In their colourful, sometimes moving life stories, Maya tries to trace her own beginnings and in the process, chalks out what her future might look like.
Despite addressing serious questions of community, belonging, womanhood and life, the charm of Half-Blood lies in how it manages to keep the tone light-hearted and simple throughout the book. A rare mix of entertaining and thought-provoking, the novel promises to be an enjoyable read from start to finish.