Title: The Gospel of Yudas
Author: K.R. Meera (Translated by: Rajesh Rajamohan)
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton- Penguin Books
Source: Personal Copy
‘The Gospel of Yudas’ is a tale of longing and redemption. Set in Kerala, the book presents the curious story of a young girl, Prema and the enigmatic, Das aka Yudas- who recovers dead bodies from the lake. Das was a part of the Naxalite movement & had given up some information under torture, which earned him the title of a traitor. Hence, the name Yudas, resembling Judas who betrayed Jesus.
Prema’s father is a retired police man who had tortured the captives of the Naxalite movement. Now he treats his wife and daughter no less than the captives. Das was one of the captives at the camp. Though the movement is no longer active, it is still fresh in the minds of those who had been a part of it. Das, being one of them, finds himself crushed by his past.
Prema feels suffocated in her house and falls madly in love with Das, who is 15 years older than she. Prema seems to be under some spell and follows Yudas wherever he goes but Yudas is always successful in escaping her. Will Prema’s love find fulfillment? What is it that torments Das’ soul? Is he really a traitor?
The book has a beautiful cover and an enchanting blurb, and that is what made me fall for it. When I started reading it, it kept me engrossed till the last page. I was restless till I had reached the end. Though all of my questions were not answered, I enjoyed reading this book.
It offers a dreadful account of the treatment that was given to the captives of the Naxalite Movement. I shuddered while reading one of these accounts. The author also tries to justify these actions of the policemen, who are merely tools in the hands of ministers. I certainly feel, if I knew a little bit about the actual movement, I could have felt more connected.
Some readers have pointed out that the translation of the text could have been better. But I think readers like me, who have no knowledge of the original language (Malayalam), won’t have any issue with it.
Amidst the stories of political unrest and unearthing of Das’ past, I enjoyed Prema’s quest for love. Spanning over mere 150 pages, the book takes us on a journey into an altogether different world. I might pick up another book by the author, sometime in the next year.
My Rating: **** (3.75/5)
What do you think about this book? Are you fascinated by Yudas? Have you read any book that deals with the Naxalite Movement in Kerala? Do share your thoughts? Thanks.