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The Thugs and a Courtesan: A Review

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This relatively short novel is on the life of a thug named Firangia and his extramarital affair with a Maratha princess named Chanda Bai. Author Mukta Singh-Zocchi’s narrative style is folklore-type and the story is woven with a historical background that of the Maratha prime minister, Balaji Baji Rao II’s exile imposed by the British.
In Chanda Bai, one can see the semblance of a patriotic warrior, who on the face of a foreign invasion attempts to save her motherland. The folktale-style narration keeps the story together even though the rituals and events in the story seem a bit absurd to the fanatics of ‘written’ history. However, with the background of historical events, The Thugs and a Courtesan stands out among other Indian writings in English in our time in its ambition and impact. Mukta Singh-Zocchi is born in Ithaca, New York and raised in New Delhi. The Thugs and a Courtesan is her first novel. The story begins as the narrator Zalim Singh raises the curtain to a series of cur…