Night Theater
A surgeon flees a scandal in the city and accepts a job at a village clinic. He buys antibiotics out of pocket, squashes roaches, and chafes at the interventions of the corrupt officer who oversees his work.But his outlook on life changes one night when a teacher, his pregnant wife, and their young son appear. Killed in a violent robbery, they tell the surgeon that they have been offered a second chance at living if the surgeon can mend their wounds before sunrise.So begins a night of quiet work, "as if the crickets had been bribed," during which the surgeon realizes his future is tied more closely to that of the dead family than he could have imagined. By dawn, he and his assistant have gained knowledge no mortal should have.In this inventive novel charged with philosophical gravity and sly humor, Vikram Paralkar takes on the practice of medicine in a time when the right to health care is frequently challenged. Engaging earthly injustice and imaginaries of the afterlife, he asks how we might navigate corrupt institutions to find a moral center. Encompassing social criticism and magically unreal drama, Night Theater is a first novel as satisfying for its existential inquiry as for its enthralling story of a skeptical physician who arrives at a greater understanding of life's miracles.

Night Theater Details

TitleNight Theater
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 14th, 2020
PublisherCatapult
ISBN-139781948226547
Rating
GenreFiction, Fantasy, Cultural, India, Magical Realism, Horror, Contemporary, Asia, Audiobook, Death, Literary Fiction

Night Theater Review

  • Annet
    January 1, 1970
    My mother always says there are things in this world that no one can explain...What a dark, unreal, weird and fascinating story this is. I can't say I liked it, I mean, it is not a nice story, but it utterly fascinated me. Exceptional. Some story. A weird story about a small poor clinic somewhere in India, led by a talented but poor doctor 'with a history'. One day a man and his wife and son enter the clinic. They are officially dead, but sent back from the afterlife by an angel. They died in My mother always says there are things in this world that no one can explain...What a dark, unreal, weird and fascinating story this is. I can't say I liked it, I mean, it is not a nice story, but it utterly fascinated me. Exceptional. Some story. A weird story about a small poor clinic somewhere in India, led by a talented but poor doctor 'with a history'. One day a man and his wife and son enter the clinic. They are officially dead, but sent back from the afterlife by an angel. They died in real life being assaulted and robed. In order to enter into real life again due to the 'courtesy of the angel', the doctor needs to operate them. When the day breaks, they will regain life and the wounds need to be controlled...otherwise they will die. Well... weird story isn't it. And it touches on a lot of topics, religion, what does afterlife look like, are there angels, is there a God, how do you live your life, what are your dilemmas, etc.Utterly fascinating. I did not care much for the operating scenes I have to say, but the rest of the story, yes, yes, recommended. But you are in for a dark ride I warn you!
    more
  • Lark Benobi
    January 1, 1970
    Night Theater exposes everything we humans tell ourselves, about what it means to lead a good life, as meaningless. And after that, the novel takes every article of faith that we humans like to believe, about the dignity of humanity, and the possibility of redemption, and smashes it to bits. And then, miraculously, after every virtue is exposed as meaningless, and every hope is smashed to bits, the novel rises up from the ashes, phoenix-like, and becomes a story that's mythic, and true, and Night Theater exposes everything we humans tell ourselves, about what it means to lead a good life, as meaningless. And after that, the novel takes every article of faith that we humans like to believe, about the dignity of humanity, and the possibility of redemption, and smashes it to bits. And then, miraculously, after every virtue is exposed as meaningless, and every hope is smashed to bits, the novel rises up from the ashes, phoenix-like, and becomes a story that's mythic, and true, and powerful. It is honestly one of the most uplifting and life-affirming books I've ever read.
    more
  • Robin
    January 1, 1970
    This book, with its clever title, has a lot going for it. A compelling premise (big city surgeon in rural India gets visited by a family of "walking dead" - corpses who were murdered and sent back to Earth by an angel for a second chance at life) and an authenticity brought about by the fact that the author himself is a research physician (so the many nighttime surgeries feel like the real deal).It's also simply written, and relatively short - so you can whip through this baby in no time flat. This book, with its clever title, has a lot going for it. A compelling premise (big city surgeon in rural India gets visited by a family of "walking dead" - corpses who were murdered and sent back to Earth by an angel for a second chance at life) and an authenticity brought about by the fact that the author himself is a research physician (so the many nighttime surgeries feel like the real deal).It's also simply written, and relatively short - so you can whip through this baby in no time flat.What I like about this story - which has a fable aura to it, what with the magical realism threaded through its soul - is that it is equal parts spiritual to physical. We find ourselves grappling with the afterlife and an absentee god, just as much as we are looking into a damaged chest cavity and all the tools needed for the repair. And Paralkar does this very well - though sometimes I found the lengthy surgical scenes took me out of the story more than I would have liked.Perhaps though, it's because of the fable-esque nature of this book that I felt myself at arm's length. I found myself propelled by a morbid curiosity of what would happen when the sun rose the next morning. Would the corpses survive? Would they be granted this second chance at life, and if so, how would that look? But I didn't really know, or connect with the characters on a deeper level. Maybe I wasn't meant to. Maybe this book is meant to be read from the heavens, or from a seat in the nosebleeds in a large theatre - distance is sometimes needed to see the big picture.I really don't know. But if I'm going to be a spectator, I prefer the front row, myself.3.5 starsThank you to Netgalley and Catapult publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Marchpane
    January 1, 1970
    Saramago meets E.R.In a tiny Indian village, a surgeon is visited by a murdered family who insist that he repair their fatal wounds by sun-up, so they can be resurrected. Night Theatre is a very different kind of ghost story.This Saramago-esque fable is very contained: the only setting is the tiny clinic, the timeframe just a single night, and the (unnamed) characters limited to the doctor, his assistant and her husband, the murdered family of three and one corrupt government official whose Saramago meets E.R.In a tiny Indian village, a surgeon is visited by a murdered family who insist that he repair their fatal wounds by sun-up, so they can be resurrected. Night Theatre is a very different kind of ghost story.This Saramago-esque fable is very contained: the only setting is the tiny clinic, the timeframe just a single night, and the (unnamed) characters limited to the doctor, his assistant and her husband, the murdered family of three and one corrupt government official whose sudden appearance nearly derails everything. It’s almost a stage play in book form. Night Theatre was originally published in India under the title “The Wounds of the Dead”. The family’s wounds are not just physical. They are traumatised by the acts of violence that killed them and bewildered by the afterlife they’ve glimpsed. It’s not what they expected to say the least, and they’d rather return to the land of the living.The surgeon is working to a deadline: he must perform three complicated surgeries by sunrise. If he fails to repair their fatal wounds, his patients will bleed to death all over again. The clock is ticking which makes for a suspenseful read. Paralkar is an M.D. and the surgical scenes are written in lurid detail – presumably medically accurate, apart from the patients being dead, although I’m not qualified to judge.Over the course of the night, we discover why this skilled surgeon has been relegated to a thankless post in the middle of nowhere, and what really happened to the ghost family. The book touches on religious faith, inequality, corruption and more, without making any obvious point. The characters are lightly sketched, but that suits the fable/dream tone. 3.5 stars.
    more
  • K.J. Charles
    January 1, 1970
    Weird, horrible, brilliant, compelling. A despairing surgeon in a dilapidated village clinic is visited by a dead family who have been promised they will live again at dawn--but the wounds of their murders have to be repaired first. Subsequent events mix clinical ghastliness with the mundane horror of a deeply corrupt system mired in bribery, hopelessness, poverty, moral exhaustion and failures of humanity. Fable-like in the telling--nobody has a name, they are the surgeon, the official, the Weird, horrible, brilliant, compelling. A despairing surgeon in a dilapidated village clinic is visited by a dead family who have been promised they will live again at dawn--but the wounds of their murders have to be repaired first. Subsequent events mix clinical ghastliness with the mundane horror of a deeply corrupt system mired in bribery, hopelessness, poverty, moral exhaustion and failures of humanity. Fable-like in the telling--nobody has a name, they are the surgeon, the official, the boy--but grounded with precise detail, and just enough hope to make it unbearable because, the surgeon and the dead show us, if you could just stop hoping and give up then that would be a form of relief. Except the ending then makes you think again about all the above. Thought-provoking topics along with a compelling plot, superb writing. Excellent stuff.
    more
  • Nadine
    January 1, 1970
    This book felt more like a parable than a novel, although the plot and the pacing made it as propulsive as any good mystery novel. I think the publisher blurb doesn't do the reader any favors by revealing so much of the plot - I went in knowing only that it was vaguely something about a doctor visited by 'ghosts', so much of the story came as a surprise. There is quite a bit of surgical detail, but to my surprise it was fascinating, not disturbing - no messy bleeding with these patients! In such This book felt more like a parable than a novel, although the plot and the pacing made it as propulsive as any good mystery novel. I think the publisher blurb doesn't do the reader any favors by revealing so much of the plot - I went in knowing only that it was vaguely something about a doctor visited by 'ghosts', so much of the story came as a surprise. There is quite a bit of surgical detail, but to my surprise it was fascinating, not disturbing - no messy bleeding with these patients! In such a short book there's not a lot of room for character description, but they all came alive for me (even the dead ones). Liked the ending very much. If this author is as good a doctor as he is a writer, his patients should be happy. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
    more
  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    In a run-down clinic at the outskirts of a rural Indian village, a once-successful surgeon is bringing what remains of his career to an unassuming end. Saheb, as the villagers respectfully call him, tries to do his job decently, despite lack of facilities, a sorely limited budget, stifling bureaucracy and institutionalised corruption. As for assistance, he must make do with an untrained pharmacist and her handyman husband. But he is soon to face his biggest challenge yet. One night, a young In a run-down clinic at the outskirts of a rural Indian village, a once-successful surgeon is bringing what remains of his career to an unassuming end. Saheb, as the villagers respectfully call him, tries to do his job decently, despite lack of facilities, a sorely limited budget, stifling bureaucracy and institutionalised corruption. As for assistance, he must make do with an untrained pharmacist and her handyman husband. But he is soon to face his biggest challenge yet. One night, a young family – father, pregnant mother and infant son – present themselves at the clinic, suffering from horrific injuries inflicted by a band of bandits. It was a savage attack and no one could possibly survive the wounds they show the doctor. In fact, the would-be patients are dead, allowed to return to Earth by a friendly official of the afterlife. There’s one problem though – at dawn, blood will once again course through their veins. In the course of one long night, the doctor must successfully complete three complex surgeries, not to save the living, but to resurrect the dead.The dead tend to haunt ghost stories and horror fiction. Vikram Paralkar’s Night Theatre (originally published in India as The Wounds of the Dead) is neither of the two. Its horrors, if any, lie in the detailed surgical descriptions (Paralkar is a hematologist-oncologist and, presumably, speaks from experience) and in the quasi-existential sense of futility instilled by the evident moral failure of society. If pressed to classify the novel, I would describe it as a work of magical realism. Indeed, despite its fantastical premise, it feels strangely plausible, its plot driven forward by an inherent logic. By a happy irony, Paralkar manages to use a surreal tale as a vehicle for social critique. At the same time, the otherworldly elements provide a springboard for ruminations about death and the meaning of life.I must say that the book’s blurb intrigued me, but little did I expect to discover a little literary gem. By turns tragic, darkly comic and ultimately moving, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can’t recommend it enough.
    more
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    A renowned surgeon falls from grace and struggles to run a low-income clinic at the edge of a city, then one night three visitors come and need his help to come back to live. Interesting mix of medical work-life, gods of India, and a peculiar afterlife, all with a tale that unfolds gradually as the story moves along. The author is a doctor and it shows. So much of the book is revealed as you read, so I can't say a lot. I had a copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley and it came A renowned surgeon falls from grace and struggles to run a low-income clinic at the edge of a city, then one night three visitors come and need his help to come back to live. Interesting mix of medical work-life, gods of India, and a peculiar afterlife, all with a tale that unfolds gradually as the story moves along. The author is a doctor and it shows. So much of the book is revealed as you read, so I can't say a lot. I had a copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley and it came out January 14, 2020.
    more
  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    Matters of life and death...A former surgeon now acts as a general doctor in a small run-down clinic serving a population of rural villagers. His supplies are late when they come at all, his overseer is bullying and corrupt, and his only assistants are a young unqualified woman whom he has taught to act as his pharmacist, and her husband, who does all the handyman tasks around the clinic. Frustrated with the way his life has turned out, the surgeon is in a near perpetual state of disappointment Matters of life and death...A former surgeon now acts as a general doctor in a small run-down clinic serving a population of rural villagers. His supplies are late when they come at all, his overseer is bullying and corrupt, and his only assistants are a young unqualified woman whom he has taught to act as his pharmacist, and her husband, who does all the handyman tasks around the clinic. Frustrated with the way his life has turned out, the surgeon is in a near perpetual state of disappointment and ill-temper. Then, one night after a long day when he has been giving all the local children their polio vaccinations, he is approached by three very strange patients, each with terrible wounds. They are a husband, wife and young son who were attacked in the street, robbed, stabbed and left to die. Which indeed they did. Now they have been given the chance to return from the afterlife, but before they come alive at dawn the next day, they must have their wounds treated or they will die again...No, this isn’t some kind of zombie horror story. It’s a beautifully written fable which, while it can be read on one level simply as a unique and interesting story, has layer upon layer of depth, dealing with the big questions of life, death, faith, and the place of medicine in all of these. None of the characters have names, being known rather as their occupation – the surgeon, the pharmacist, etc. The first hurdle is for the living characters to come to terms with the shock of meeting the dead ones, and to decide whether they should help them. How do they know whether the power that has offered them the chance to live again is on the side of good? The whole question of the unknowableness of God’s plan and of the place of faith in determining how to act underlies every decision the characters are forced to make. The pharmacist is devout, the surgeon is not, but they each have to answer the same questions to find their way through the moral maze that confronts them, and in the end, their humanity is all they have to guide them.Paralkar is himself a doctor and scientist, so the descriptions of the surgical procedures the surgeon must tackle come over as completely authentic. Although they can be a shade gruesome at times, especially for the squeamish (like me), they’re not done to shock or horrify. Rather, they show the skills we take for granted in our surgeons – the near miracles we expect them to perform, and our readiness to criticise and blame if they fail. The underlying suggestion seems to be that we’re near to a point of refusing to accept death as inevitable, and what does that do to questions of faith? All this mulling over profound questions came after I’d finished the book, though. While I was reading, I was too engrossed in wanting to know the outcome to pause for thought. There’s a very human story here too, and excellently told. Will the surgeon be able to save them all? If not, who will live and who die? What about the woman’s unborn child – is it included in the promise of new life? If they live, what will the future hold for them and for the surgeon? How will the surgeon explain their existence to the villagers – or explain their corpses if he fails to fix their wounds? How will the experience change him, whatever the outcome?The ending beautifully answers all the questions that should be answered and leaves open all the ones that shouldn’t. Paralkar has achieved the perfect balance of giving a satisfying and thought-provoking story without telling the reader what to think, and as a result this is one that each reader will make unique to herself. One of the most original novels I’ve read in years, I’ll be mulling over it for a long time and suspect it’s one that would give even more on a second read. It gets my highest recommendation.NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Serpent’s Tail.www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com
    more
  • Ann Helen
    January 1, 1970
    This was one intense and claustrophobic book, but I loved every second of it.We meet a doctor in a rural town in India. He is used to far better conditions than the ones he is currently working under, his clinic lacking most modern medical equipment and sometimes necessary drugs. He does what he can for the villagers, but not without some degree of resentment. This isn't the place he wants to be, nor feels he should be. After sunset one night a family shows up at his clinic, asking him to This was one intense and claustrophobic book, but I loved every second of it.We meet a doctor in a rural town in India. He is used to far better conditions than the ones he is currently working under, his clinic lacking most modern medical equipment and sometimes necessary drugs. He does what he can for the villagers, but not without some degree of resentment. This isn't the place he wants to be, nor feels he should be. After sunset one night a family shows up at his clinic, asking him to operate on them. They seem perfectly healthy, but their clothes are hiding fatal wounds. The three members of the small family, four if the unborn baby is included, died after being violently stabbed. In the afterlife, an angel gives them a choice of returning to the land of the living, but he can't heal their wounds, he can only keep them alive for one night in an artificial way. A surgeon will have to fix the damage to their bodies before sunrise if they are to remain alive. Suddenly, the doctor is in a position of having to raise the dead instead of healing the living.Although we are presented with a plot that includes the afterlife, angels and supernatural occurrences, this isn't a particularly religious novel. It is more philosophical. This situation naturally brings with it a lot of questions and fears. The superstitious girl working for the doctor wonders if God will punish them for going against him, for playing God with these people's lives. The doctor struggles with the expectation that he'll be able to save the family and with the potentially life changing and devastating consequences for him and the others involved if he fails to save them. They see him as a brilliant doctor and a great man, unselfish, devoted to saving lives no matter the cost. He knows he is neither, though he would, by any normal standard, be considered a good doctor and a good man. Nothing in this book is simple and straightforward, nothing is black and white. Should he save them? Can he save them? Can he live with the consequences of his own limitations?The reason I found the book claustrophobic is that everything that happens takes place in the clinic, during one night. In addition to operating on each member of the family, the doctor has to avoid anyone finding out about what's happening, which proves difficult, as both an annoying village drunkard and a corrupt clinic official pays a visit during the night, leaving the family and the girl helping him to hide. The family themselves are told that if they survive they can never leave the borders of the village, and the doctor is lacking so much in order to help them survive, not to mention cope with pain as they come alive after sunrise, that the village seems like a place cut off from the world at large, too small to be chosen for this task. And with every hour that passes, the doctor's lack of sleep becomes more and more unbearable..The descriptions of wounds and of the operations are detailed and realistic, making the novel very gritty. The themes of murder, corruption, the feeling of hopelessness makes it even more so. Though slow paced, the story is incredibly gripping, both because of the tension when unwanted visitors show up, the level of difficulty of the operations and the wonder at what the world is like if a dead family can come back to life. I have to agree with everyone who has written that the story feels very realistic, despite the unrealistic premise of the book. I listened to the audio version and the reader did a great job. He was very engaging, he gave different characters different voices and you could feel the exasperation and the exhaustion through his voice. I got completely lost in this story and just loved everything about it.
    more
  • 〰️Beth〰️
    January 1, 1970
    Four and a half morbid stars. Reminder I don’t give spoilers.A strangely compelling tale. Morbid curiosity kept me moving from chapter to chapter. The last quarter of the book had some tangents that I felt were distracting, hence the 1/2 star removal. Overall I have to round up to five because of the writing and how this book will haunt me for some time.
    more
  • Tommi
    January 1, 1970
    [2.5] Vikram Paralkar’s Night Theatre has an enticing premise, as a murdered family of three appear at the door of a surgeon in an Indian village and implore him to operate on their bodies in order to bring them back to life before dawn. Atmospheric and focused, the novel is an altogether fine story of magical realism, but one that is heavily reliant on surgical minutiae – which does not come as a surprise as the author is a research physician –somewhat at the expense of depth in terms of e.g. [2.5] Vikram Paralkar’s Night Theatre has an enticing premise, as a murdered family of three appear at the door of a surgeon in an Indian village and implore him to operate on their bodies in order to bring them back to life before dawn. Atmospheric and focused, the novel is an altogether fine story of magical realism, but one that is heavily reliant on surgical minutiae – which does not come as a surprise as the author is a research physician – somewhat at the expense of depth in terms of e.g. societal or psychological dimensions. High chances of nomination for the 2020 Wellcome Book Prize.
    more
  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    Paralkar proves that one doesn't need an MFA in order to craft beautiful sentences, but it helps to have an M.D. to get medical details correct in this unusual and unpredictable novel which takes place over 24 hours at a rural clinic in India.
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia
    January 1, 1970
    A bit of the fantastic, a bit of allegory and a bit of medical drama make for a sometimes confounding whole, but Paralkar shows unusual promise. Although I didn't quite love Night Theater, it left me wanting to see something else from the writer. First lines may be fun, but even better are writers who manage to intrigue you. Read full review: https://www.npr.org/2020/01/25/799278...
    more
  • Racheal
    January 1, 1970
    This was so compelling and weirdand morbidly fascinating. It captures a single night in rural India when a family (pregnant mom, dad, and son) appears at the doors of the local rundown clinic and tells the doctor that theywere murdered last night and that their only chance to live again is if the doctor can successfully fix their wounds overnight.This is one of those books that makes me wish I had gotten an English degree so I could talk a little more intelligently about it. Like what is it when This was so compelling and weird and morbidly fascinating. It captures a single night in rural India when a family (pregnant mom, dad, and son) appears at the doors of the local rundown clinic and tells the doctor that they were murdered last night and that their only chance to live again is if the doctor can successfully fix their wounds overnight.This is one of those books that makes me wish I had gotten an English degree so I could talk a little more intelligently about it. Like what is it when a plot is structured as a framework to explore philosophical ideas- life, death, human connection, corruption, etc.? Would it be an allegory? I think that implies more of an aspect of overt moralizing than this book goes in for, though; even though it's an excellent playground for some really interesting ideas, it isn't emotionally manipulative or trite. It could easily have gone Scrooge and the three Christmas ghosts, culminating in some convenient life lesson, but thankfully it doesn't.The story's overall lack of sentimentality is one of the main reasons it worked so well for me. There are some really great moments where the narrative acknowledges the places where it could easily fall into the expectations for this type of story and purposefully doesn't: The teacher's story was like a bizarre fable- something a priest might deliver in a religious ceremony. But there were no flowers here, no lamps or burning inherence to make the unreality more palatable.OrIt was tempting to adopt the pharmacist's way of thinking about the world and everything in it. Whatever would happen would happen, she'd said... Or something similar, some aphorism of endless absolving circularity.I also liked exploring a lot of the themes here- the concrete consequences of bureaucratic corruption, how people treat you versus how you percieve yourself, how you act when you are completely out of your depth and your yardstick for what's right and wrong has been utterly demolished. A lot of this was represented well in the contrast between how the older, disillusioned doctor reacts to the situation versus how his young, religious pharmacist experiences it. And even though this feels fable-like in that the characters are all unnamed (the pharmacist, the teacher, etc.), I thought the characterizations were quite well done; they always felt like real people rather than cardboard metaphors.The last thing I have to mention is how I loved the way it leans into the bizarre grossness of it all. The descriptions of the surgeries kept me absolutely glued to the page!Overall just great ideas, great story, great characterizations, delightfully weird, couldn't put it down!
    more
  • Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    thoughts coming shortly
  • Andy Weston
    January 1, 1970
    I’m on something of a roll at the moment. This was another cracking read. In a poor and remote village in India a Doctor and his pharmacist struggle with long hours at a clinic that lacks equipment and is highly unsanitary. After a particularly testing day and late at night, as they close up, a young couple and their eight year old son arrive begging for treatment after a vicious assault. On closer inspection the Doctor realises their wounds mean they could not possibly have survived the attack. I’m on something of a roll at the moment. This was another cracking read. In a poor and remote village in India a Doctor and his pharmacist struggle with long hours at a clinic that lacks equipment and is highly unsanitary. After a particularly testing day and late at night, as they close up, a young couple and their eight year old son arrive begging for treatment after a vicious assault. On closer inspection the Doctor realises their wounds mean they could not possibly have survived the attack. So is this a horror story? One of zombies? I was intrigued. But it is neither, and far more intricate than that and defies genre labelling. I suppose it might be termed contemporary or speculative fiction, though I don’t like the term ‘speculative’ as surely every piece of writing seeks to tread some sort of new ground. It’s certainly original, and about redemption and faith, and a very human story, tremendously well told. Also, it has that most wonderful thing, a last sentence that goes a long way to explain everything that has gone before. Immensely satisfying.
    more
  • WndyJW
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fantastic story. A bitter surgeon, forced to work in a government run clinic in a rural Indian village after a humiliating professional misunderstanding, is visited by a family: a teacher, his very pregnant wife, and their young son. The family asks the surgeon to do the unthinkable, to mend their mortal wounds before dawn so that their lifeless bodies can return to life. During the long night the surgeon, his pharmacist and her husband push through exhaustion and fear to help the This is a fantastic story. A bitter surgeon, forced to work in a government run clinic in a rural Indian village after a humiliating professional misunderstanding, is visited by a family: a teacher, his very pregnant wife, and their young son. The family asks the surgeon to do the unthinkable, to mend their mortal wounds before dawn so that their lifeless bodies can return to life. During the long night the surgeon, his pharmacist and her husband push through exhaustion and fear to help the family, never quite sure if the help they are offering out of compassion is morally permissible. It is a slim book, a little over 200 pages, but it asks us to think about life and death, right and wrong, God, gods, faith, and the afterlife. I loved it.
    more
  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    This short novel has an irresistible setup: late one evening a surgeon in a rural Indian clinic gets a visit from a family of three: a teacher, his pregnant wife and their eight-year-old son. But there’s something different about this trio: they’re dead. They each bear hideous stab wounds from being set upon by bandits while walking home late from a fair. In the afterlife, an angel reluctantly granted them a second chance at life. If the surgeon can repair their gashes before daybreak, and as This short novel has an irresistible setup: late one evening a surgeon in a rural Indian clinic gets a visit from a family of three: a teacher, his pregnant wife and their eight-year-old son. But there’s something different about this trio: they’re dead. They each bear hideous stab wounds from being set upon by bandits while walking home late from a fair. In the afterlife, an angel reluctantly granted them a second chance at life. If the surgeon can repair their gashes before daybreak, and as long as they stay within the village boundaries, their bodies will be revivified at dawn. For now, they have no blood flow and can feel no pain – ideal conditions for a surgeon to work in. Fighting to stay awake and assisted only by the clinic’s very religious pharmacist, he operates through the night and swaps stories of this life and the next: of mistakes, betrayal, shame and blackmail.Paralkar draws on dreams, folktales and superstition, and the descriptions of clinic procedures are vivid, as you would expect given the author’s work as a research physician at the University of Pennsylvania. The double meaning of the word “theatre” in the title encompasses the operating theatre and the dramatic spectacle that is taking place in this clinic. But somehow I never got invested in any of these characters and what might happen to them; the précis is more exciting than the narrative as a whole.A favorite passage:“Apart from the whispering of the dead in the corridor, the silence was almost deliberate – as if the crickets had been bribed and the dogs strangled. The village at the base of the hillock was perfectly still, its houses like polyps erupting from the soil. The rising moon had dusted them all with white talc. They appeared to have receded in the hours after sunset, abandoning the clinic to its unnatural deeds.”
    more
  • Pallavi
    January 1, 1970
    ***3.0***We meet a Disgraced Surgeon stuck in a village clinic who hates it and its people, yet goes on his job. His clinic is always short of supplies and often he puts his own money to fund those supplies. He has a local woman and her husband working as pharmacist and errand man. His superior who is in charge of this clinic doesn't provide enough funds to keep the clinic going.Along with all these problems, our surgeon encounters one more supernatural challenge where he has to fix the wounds ***3.0***We meet a Disgraced Surgeon stuck in a village clinic who hates it and its people, yet goes on his job. His clinic is always short of supplies and often he puts his own money to fund those supplies. He has a local woman and her husband working as pharmacist and errand man. His superior who is in charge of this clinic doesn't provide enough funds to keep the clinic going.Along with all these problems, our surgeon encounters one more supernatural challenge where he has to fix the wounds of a dead family who visit him one evening. Only if the surgeon is successful before the sunrise the dead will walk again.I liked the book where the story line was really small but yet said much. The narration was good and included gory details (for me!) of surgeries which I had to skim read. A small book throwing light on corruption in medical world with magical realism.Thank You Netgalley for the Copy in exchange of a honest Review.Happy Reading!!
    more
  • Matthias
    January 1, 1970
    The day the dead visited the surgeon, the air in his clinic was laced with formaldehyde.Giving away the first sentence will surely spoil nothing. It is the beginning of a balance act between life and death for the protagonists of the book, and between immense success and disastrous failure for the book. The author miraculously finds just the right tone until the end.This unique book proves that there are still stories to tell. If you have the time or the need, read it during one long sleepless The day the dead visited the surgeon, the air in his clinic was laced with formaldehyde.Giving away the first sentence will surely spoil nothing. It is the beginning of a balance act between life and death for the protagonists of the book, and between immense success and disastrous failure for the book. The author miraculously finds just the right tone until the end.This unique book proves that there are still stories to tell. If you have the time or the need, read it during one long sleepless night.
    more
  • Sarah-Hope
    January 1, 1970
    Night Theater is one of those reads that won't let you go. It leaves you with far more questions coming out than you had going in, and that is one of it's real strengths. Nothing in this story is simple, despite how straightforward the narrative feels.The premise is relatively straightforward, if fantastic. A cynical physician in a rural clinic in India is confronted with three dead people who claim they will be able to live again if he repairs their wounds before the sun rises. From that point, Night Theater is one of those reads that won't let you go. It leaves you with far more questions coming out than you had going in, and that is one of it's real strengths. Nothing in this story is simple, despite how straightforward the narrative feels.The premise is relatively straightforward, if fantastic. A cynical physician in a rural clinic in India is confronted with three dead people who claim they will be able to live again if he repairs their wounds before the sun rises. From that point, thins spin out with increasing complexity.I don't want to say too much about this title for fear of interfering with the process of reading it—but I do strongly recommend that readers grab the opportunity to live through that night with the physician at the story's center.
    more
  • Leore Joanne Green
    January 1, 1970
    This book is quite dark and a bit morbid. It tells of a surgeon in an Indian village, who one night is visited by a family of dead people – a man, a very pregnant woman, and their child. All were killed by bandits with vicious knife wounds and left to bleed out on the roadside. In the afterlife they had managed to persuade an angel to bring them back, but the catch is that they were brought back exactly as they were, with their life-threatening wounds, but without any blood, or need to breath. This book is quite dark and a bit morbid. It tells of a surgeon in an Indian village, who one night is visited by a family of dead people – a man, a very pregnant woman, and their child. All were killed by bandits with vicious knife wounds and left to bleed out on the roadside. In the afterlife they had managed to persuade an angel to bring them back, but the catch is that they were brought back exactly as they were, with their life-threatening wounds, but without any blood, or need to breath. This will change at dawn, when their bodies will fill with blood again, so they must find help quickly to try and treat their wounds, before they bleed to death all over again. I was not surprised to learn after I finished reading that the author is a physician, as one of the things I liked the most about this book were the descriptions of the various surgeries the surgeon performed on the dead, and especially the exploration of how different and weird it is to do surgery on someone who is dead trying to fix their wounds (for example, blood does not flow, so it’s hard to ascertain were blood vessels were torn). In this short book Paralkar explores life and death, compassion, and corruption. The language is beautiful, unsentimental, usually straight and to the point, but sometimes unfolding into gorgeous unexpected descriptions, such as: “The surgeon looked up at the sky. It seemed charred, as if some great and distant immolation had finally been completed. When he was this girl’s age… he’d wondered how astrologers assembled all those creatures from the stars – rams and fishes and scorpions. All he ever saw were silent theatres – the way the dots of light hung there, deceptively stable from one night to the next, preparing to dash themselves to the earth at the slightest provocation”.
    more
  • T.B. Caine
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC! My Booktube Channel3.5 out of 4 stars, rounded up because I just can't think of any major flaws at all. This book is a weird one to review. There weren't any major flaws in the writing or story, but I just didn't fully connect with it. It was a great novel, but just something kept it away from being a 5 stars. I liked it, but I wasn't in love with it. If that makes sense. The ending has me with mixed feelings. Part of me likes it, Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC! My Booktube Channel3.5 out of 4 stars, rounded up because I just can't think of any major flaws at all. This book is a weird one to review. There weren't any major flaws in the writing or story, but I just didn't fully connect with it. It was a great novel, but just something kept it away from being a 5 stars. I liked it, but I wasn't in love with it. If that makes sense. The ending has me with mixed feelings. Part of me likes it, but the other part of me hates. Won't spoil it but if you like literary fiction you'll probably like the ending more than I did. It is definitely an ending style that you see a lot in literary fiction. It was an interesting choice to only name the main character, as everyone else just has an identifier. "Pharmacist" "teacher", etc. I don't really have much more to say. It was a quick read and I did like it, but I don't see myself yelling about it or re-reading it (at least not anytime soon).
    more
  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    A man, his wife, and their son show up at the very underfunded clinic run by a surgeon and a helper. They have wounds, but surprise, they're not bleeding, because they're dead! Walking, talking, dead. Sounds interesting, right? The author is a physician himself, and I suspect this book came to be because he had some philosophical thoughts about life and decided to craft a novel around them. If you removed the meandering thought exercises and fable-like stories, this 208 page, simply written book A man, his wife, and their son show up at the very underfunded clinic run by a surgeon and a helper. They have wounds, but surprise, they're not bleeding, because they're dead! Walking, talking, dead. Sounds interesting, right? The author is a physician himself, and I suspect this book came to be because he had some philosophical thoughts about life and decided to craft a novel around them. If you removed the meandering thought exercises and fable-like stories, this 208 page, simply written book would probably become novella length. Other than the surgeon, none of the characters even have names, and the story feels similarly distant. It has a simple plot and very little character development. It's not engaging and the interesting premise is the best part of this book despite not being executed particularly well.
    more
  • Rachel Pollock
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this weird, surreal, allegorical novel. It made me think about the ethics of medical treatment, the corruption of the health care industry, and the nature of love, family, career, and faith. I don't want to give spoilers, because so much of the unsettling plot turns on the gothic details of this small-town surgeon's ethical dilemma. I felt myself pulled along by Paralkar's disconcerting slow revelation of exactly what is going on in this book. And, for a book which basically I really enjoyed this weird, surreal, allegorical novel. It made me think about the ethics of medical treatment, the corruption of the health care industry, and the nature of love, family, career, and faith. I don't want to give spoilers, because so much of the unsettling plot turns on the gothic details of this small-town surgeon's ethical dilemma. I felt myself pulled along by Paralkar's disconcerting slow revelation of exactly what is going on in this book. And, for a book which basically freaked me out the majority of the time, I found the culmination/revelation in literally the final paragraph to be a bright and beautiful gesture.Highly recommended.I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Gail (The Knight Reader)
    January 1, 1970
    This is a story unlike any I’ve read before. Emojis congruent with my feelings: . I am a physician so the grit and grime did not register to me; call me desensitized . Outside of that, the story and it’s message are simple while quite profound at the same time as the seemingly innocent 24h it is staged in. I would easily reread this tale and would recommend it to those looking for a fantastical read, with some medical drama and superstitious/religious elements. This is a story unlike any I’ve read before. Emojis congruent with my feelings: 😐🤔😱. I am a physician so the grit and grime did not register to me; call me desensitized 🤣. Outside of that, the story and it’s message are simple while quite profound at the same time as the seemingly innocent 24h it is staged in. I would easily reread this tale and would recommend it to those looking for a fantastical read, with some medical drama and superstitious/religious elements.
    more
  • Nik's Nook
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. This was unlike anything I have read before. It read like a fable with none of the characters having names. It was severely gruesome at times. It was compelling. It was thought-provoking. Interested to hear other thoughts on this one.
    more
  • Nicki Markus
    January 1, 1970
    Night Theatre is an interesting and captivating read. I am calling it literary fiction, but you could also go with magical realism, given the things that happen within the tale. Paralkar's prose drew me in right away, and left me keen to see what would befall this village doctor in the dead of night. The surgeries he performs are described in great detail, so this book may not be for the squeamish. Then there is some discussion of the afterlife and what is an unjustified or unfair death. Night Theatre is an interesting and captivating read. I am calling it literary fiction, but you could also go with magical realism, given the things that happen within the tale. Paralkar's prose drew me in right away, and left me keen to see what would befall this village doctor in the dead of night. The surgeries he performs are described in great detail, so this book may not be for the squeamish. Then there is some discussion of the afterlife and what is an unjustified or unfair death. However, the story also looks at the role of the doctor, and the difficulties this particular man has faced that led him to be in the village. I can't say more without risking spoilers, but all in all Night Theatre is a well-written book with an intriguing premise that will certainly leave you thinking.I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley.
    more
  • John Trident
    January 1, 1970
    There're things in this world that noone can explain.'What right do I've to judge anyone else? I want life, life on earth, even after my death. The one thing that no one's really supposed to have. Maybe that's real greed, worse than wanting money or fame.''Philosophy is for the elderly. You're much too young for thoughts like these. Leave them to people of my age.''But don't they say that philosophy is for those who struggle with death? If that's true, who could be more qualified than me?''God There're things in this world that noone can explain.'What right do I've to judge anyone else? I want life, life on earth, even after my death. The one thing that no one's really supposed to have. Maybe that's real greed, worse than wanting money or fame.''Philosophy is for the elderly. You're much too young for thoughts like these. Leave them to people of my age.''But don't they say that philosophy is for those who struggle with death? If that's true, who could be more qualified than me?''God is as hidden to the dead as he's to the living.''I'm doing something I've never done before. After all my years of preparing the living for their deaths, I now have the task of preparing the dead for life.'What could a mortal do? We accept what God decides for us without asking too many questions. After all, if He could make this world & everything in it put in it's place every star in the sky & pebble in the river, then He understood the path paid out for us, life after life, better than any human ever would. 'We're like kites.' 'Kites?' 'Yes. Kites with strings.''You've to wonder.' 'What a kite would think if it had a brain. Maybe it would think of it's position in the sky as the only steady point in the universe, & worry about constantly holding the rest of the world in place. That, too, on a single string. A single string, at the end of which is balanced the entire earth, as if on the tip of a pin. The earth has so many dangerous things on it, trees with branches like claws, constantly trying to poke holes through the kite's body animals crawling all over, waiting to grab & tear it, & water, so much water everywhere -- the kite has to make sure it never touches it, or it will be done for. The wind is strong, it makes the earth flap around the kite in every direction, but the kite holds onto it's string, keeps the earth at a safe distance. There's sin & death & evil on the earth, the kite thinks, but the sky is pure, & as long as it controls it's own little patch, things are good.''What's the moral of this tale?''The moral? Even a stream can be holy as the Ganga... if you've faith.''That's what everyone thinks. You're not the only one to come up with this optimistic interpretation. But lemme suggest something else. I've realised the true moral is actually different. It's that there's no Ganga.''No Ganga?''Well, of course there's the river that starts at Gangotri. But the one which people look for, the one that can wash away sins -- it simply doesn't exist. There's nothing in it's waters that gives it any magical powers.''So that's the moral? That there's no way to wash away your sins?''Not exactly. It's that everything about sin lies in how you choose to look at it. There's no Ganga. You just pick a river & decide that it's water is holy. And then it'd better if you don't look back.''Tell me, do you believe in God?''Me? No. I've... I've never been God-fearing.''God-fearing... Hmm.. People use the term all the time, but it's strange one if you think about it. Especially since God is supposed to be everywhere -- in the earth, in the sky. But people don't spend their lives fearing the earth & sky.''Maybe they should.''Bur you see, when the earth or sky kills you, it does so indiscriminately, without making any plans. God, on the other hand He has a mind, He thinks. That's what makes Him worthy of fear. Because no-one knows what He's planning. So you play games with Him, try to understand His mind.''Play a game with God? How do you do that?''Well, you can't. If you set up a chessboard on the street & challenge God, He won't come down to move His pieces. But a passer-by might. That's how the game begins. And the passer-by is already playing other games. Each game is small, but they're all pieces of larger games, & the largest one, the one that contains them all, that's the game you play with God.''God places puzzles in the world so that He can understand it better.'There're people who experienced this & those who didn't. Often these intimate puzzles & intricate question are divided into many categories like : How? What? & Why? and a multitude of other factors. There're those who view things scientifically & seek a logical explanation to everything. And those who deal with spirituality, they perceive spirits as people who are deceased humans, wrong, they are entities way much older than time itself, negative and positive, consisted of pure dynamic energy & invisible to the human eye spectrum. However, they don't pass through infrared or static mode, as they have auras that interfere with signals. Sometimes in pensive state, being in presence of negative spirit will have lead people to paralysis, sometimes shivers, or void of feelings, perhaps dark & mostly evil. In their ominous presence, you'll feel their negative energy, most people report seeing a shadow, in full 3 dimension yet transparent in the dark, it's an interesting topic on both aspects of science and spirituality. . Do you believe in ghosts & paranormal existence? If yes, then this book is perfectly apt for you. It will make you question your very existence & belief in . That sometimes there're things beyond the human realm which we can't perceive or visualise through our naked eyes. Because as humans, it's a common tendency for us to believe things that we see & those we don't, we tend of disapprove of them or negate them entirely. Language is beautiful. It has been written well, considering all the medical terminologies used made me wonder as if I'm really present at the moment of all the surgeries done on the dead. Narration is grippy & keeps the readers hooked for a long time. A really good novel to read. Especially for the medical students.
    more
Write a review