Friends, family and debts of a different kind are dealt with in this debut novel of by IT professional.
Though as the cover suggests, the whole story is connected by violence and alcohol, the crux of this thriller is emotions and friendship, the emotions and friendship of Jacob and Shiva.
Set in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu between 2006 and 2009, the book shows off the culture and traditions of the land and explains picturesque locations and occasions like a Christmas celebration, very vividly. It also gives us an insight into violence and its effects on people.
Shiva, the protagonist of the story, is the unchallenged bully and master of the streets who at first bullied Jacob in school. He is later repaid for this act through kindness by Jacob who comes to Shiva’s rescue and fends off Shravan, who wanted to beat Shiva up.
This bond only gets stronger from there with Jacob helping Shiva give up fighting and mend his ways. The duo is later joined by, Gred and Forge, who bring the humour element to the story and Peresu, who is the wise man of the group. The book revolves around this group’s drunken nights and a side story involving girls.
The main focus of the story is the bond between family and friends and the various issues that can arise amongst them. The various family issues that the characters have to go through is a mix of all the scripts ever written for the afternoon TV soaps.
It also talks about violence and how Jacob helps Shiva get over this habit at first, but like many addicts, Shiva finally succumbs to it again.
And Jacob, quiet and non-aggressive as he is, also finally gives in to the power of violence realising as the synopsis of the book says, “there are certain debts that cannot be repaid with kindness. They have to be paid in kind.”
Vivek Wilson has tried, in his very first novel, to include more angles than necessary. There are many aspects in the story that are introduced and cause confusion in the minds of the reader, but eventually fall into place like a jigsaw puzzle.
This leads to the book becoming a tad slow in parts but it does pick up pace soon after. Though not un-put-down-able, Dirt Tracks is definitely a formidable start to the writing career of the ‘IT project lead’ living in Hyderabad.