Magical and different, these are the only two words that came to my mind when I finished reading The Gospel of Yudas by K.R Meera. This short novel had such a powerful impact on me that I am sure I’ll be having a book hangover for a couple of days. It will be really hard for me to move on to other books. The Gospel of Yudas is the second best book that I have read this year!
The Gospel of Yudas revolves around Prema, who is deeply infatuated with Yudas, the puzzling man who pulls dead people from the bottom of the nearby lake. Prema longs for freedom, freedom from an abusive, ex-cop father and a silent mother who cannot do anything about it. She dreams of escape from her miserable life and is also seen drawing towards Naxal ideology.
From her father’s evening angry outbursts, she is convinced that Yudas was one of the inmates from her father’s prison camp where Naxalites were mercilessly tortured. She believes that only Yudas can save her. But Yudas is also haunted by the ghosts of his past. Just like his biblical name Judas Iscariot, he bears the pain of crushing guilt. In her passionate pursuit of temperamental Yudas, Prema comes across heart-wrenching lies and glorifying truth that she cannot ignore. Powerful and absorbing, The Gospel Yudas is an intoxicating mix of political allegiance and remorseful love.
In the last few years I’ve seen a rise in books related to Naxalism, how it was born, what are their goals and values. I’ve seen characters that have died for the love for Naxalite ideology. But never I thought that such a concept can be combined with a love story. And that is what makes The Gospel of Yudas magical!
The Gospel of Yudas has made a strong base for itself in the book world and has taken its rightful place of being one of the most celebrated books in Indian publishing. Even when there are two concepts merging together, K.R. Meera is strong with her writing. Never you will feel that both the characters are moving away from their path, Prema in quest of passionate love for Yudas, and Yudas dying in the guilt of giving up his comrades from Naxalite ideology.
The macabre of pulling out bodies from the water, the price of betrayal that Yudas is paying and the blind sense of sacrifice that Prema undertakes is absolutely brilliant. One of the most striking thing about The Gospel of Yudas is that Prema’s love for Yudas is shown as a direct outcome of her Father’s tales from the prison camp. Her youthfulness claims that “Nobody annihilated the fascist machinery that smothered me. The amorous hormones in my body clamored to take on fascism. I couldn’t be in love with anyone less than a Naxalite.” The book doesn’t take any side, but very skillfully shares how Naxalism takes place in youth. The patriarchy and torture, and the sense of freedom.
Another beauty about The Gospel of Yudas is the theme of obsession. First with Yudas and then when Prema gets to know about Sunanda, another girl whom Yudas loved, but believes that was killed because he gave her up in front of the police. And I never knew that obsession could be so powerfully written! The incomplete love and cat and mouse game of deceit kept the novel alive throughout, making the reader hooked towards the story even when the last page is turned.
What I learned after reading The Gospel of Yudas is that compact books with a strong theme and powerful storyline also works wonders. The Gospel of Yudas was full of magical surprises for me and I must say, make sure you read this beautiful book. A special thank you to K.R. Meera for writing this!