Foreword Reviews


Vikram Paralkar, Catapult (JAN 14) Softcover $16.95 (224pp), 978-1-948226-54-7


In Night Theater, a disgraced surgeon faces a long night as three visitors arrive at his clinic door, greeting him with a macabre and otherworld­ly request. Before sunrise, the surgeon will question everything he thought he knew about life and death. Answers prove as elusive as to his visitors.

Saheb is dissatisfi­ed with life. He works in a rundown government clinic, having been run out of his previous town for medical malpractic­e, but he doesn’t feel that he deserves to be trapped in these working conditions. On a particular­ly brutal and frustratin­g workday during which a supplier arrives with polio vaccinatio­ns hours after mothers and children begin crowding the clinic, three deceased strangers walk in.

The strangers are a married couple and their eight-year-old boy who were robbed and stabbed to death as they left a fair. They long to return to life, and say that their wish has been granted by an official in the afterlife—with a catch. The family has to be physically repaired before sunrise; if they are, their drained, clotted bodies will refill with flowing blood.

There to assist Saheb with this most taxing surgical performanc­e of his career are his pharmacist and her husband. As the dead await sunrise and their ultimate fates, the deceased man reveals a terrible secret to Saheb and his family.

Within the text, surgery procedures are prominent with medical details. Saheb’s abrasive personalit­y becomes more sympatheti­c as his backstory comes to light. The novel leaves important plot questions unanswered but ends on what the characters see as a hopeful note.

Night Theater is an imaginativ­e novel that tackles questions about the purpose of life through characters who, when left to choose, find both pros and cons in the afterlife, too.

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