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Night Theater: A Novel

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This debut novel is Jordan Peele meets Carmen Maria Machado, set in rural India A new kind of Indian literature for American readers In meditative, evocative detail, Paralkar offers the story of one unearthly evening, when a physician must confront both his own self-doubt and his skepticism of the supernatural to save the lives of three strangers—only to learn how irreversibly connected his own fate is to theirs Night Theater is a hallucinatory fever dream, a literary ghost story from a talented author ready to break out to a larger audience. It's also a reflection on all-too-real issues, on the power (or lack thereof) we instill in our physicians, and on the profoundly mutable state of life in spaces meant for healing (hospitals, clinics) For fans of Helen Oyeyemi, Samanta Schweblin, Eduardo Halfon, Brian Evenson, or Rivka Galchen, as well as for readers who prefer their fiction haunted with a dash of the surreal or with some destabilizing supernatural elements (like the work of Carmen Maria Machado, Hiromi Kawakami, Italo Calvino, etc.) Paralkar can paint a scene even as he has you tearing through the pages; the clinic and the characters, the family's wounds, and the doctor's instruments are rendered in vivid detail, yet as a reader, you feel the ticking hands of the surgery room clock as sunrise bears down on the murdered family Night Theater explores how class, access, education, and location influence our relationship to medicine: is it magic or science, or some combination of the two? Most rural or low-income communities rely more on the supernatural than the scientific remedies, and why are we so dismissive of the natural remedies science struggles to explain? Paralkar views fiction the way he views medicine: "When a patient comes to a doctor, the latter tries to find out their story, how they ended up this way, and a way to potentially change the future. I think that’s what authors are doing. They’re trying to take some aspect of human beings that puzzles, disquiets, fascinates them, and digging deeper to find out what they can understand. While my writing is a separate endeavour from my medical work and research, there are certain invisible strands connecting the two.” (from an interview in The Hindu, February 2019) The author, an hematologist-oncologist, lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is a U.S. citizen, eligible for national prizes and accolades

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"A literary page-turner, Paralkar’s Night Theater is an engaging exploration of life, death, and the afterlife. The novel follows a jaded, washed-up surgeon in rural India—understaffed, undersupplied, and overly cynical. Late one night, a young family, recently murdered yet somehow walking and talking, visits his clinic telling the surgeon that they can have a second chance at life only if he is able to repair their wounds that night before they are fully reanimated. What follows is a tautly paced, at turns gruesomely humorous, fable-like novel that almost feels like a wonderfully remixed version of A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life but with emergency surgery on the walking dead. Insightful, philosophical, and endlessly readable, I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in Vikram Paralkar’s dimly lit, roach-infested clinic." —Caleb Masters, Bookmarks (Winston-Salem, NC)

"What do I really know about surgeons? Only what I’ve picked up from Doctor Strange, profiles of Atul Gawande, and TV medical shows. With that as reference, I would expect a generic surgeon to be egotistical, exactingly meticulous, and contemplative about mortality. Vikram Paralkar uses these archetypal qualities as the building blocks of a rich tale of the limits of human knowledge, skill, and mettle. Told with a remarkable economy, Night Theater takes a supernatural, Gothic premise and plays it out with the kind of calm, procedural manner that is r

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