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The Wounds of the Dead

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,135 ratings  ·  236 reviews
A surgeon working in a dilapidated clinic in the hinterland is visited in the dead of night by a family – a man, his pregnant wife and their eight-year-old son. Victims of a senseless attack, they reveal to the surgeon wounds that they could not possibly have survived. In a narrative that blends medicine and metaphysics, the surgeon is then issued a preposterous task: to m ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 1st 2017 by HarperCollins India
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Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark, weird, asia, india, religion, hope
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 re
lark benobi
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 powe
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.

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 sudd
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A doctor, who is the sole practitioner in a struggling rural clinic in India, is faced with three murder victims who claim that they can be restored to life if the doctor treats their wounds by the next morning. It turns out that the doctor doesn’t exactly know all of the rules of this resurrection.

I don’t know quite what to make if this book, but it was well-written, unique and certainly held my interest. It was in turns a satire of a corrupt medical system, a fable and a philosophical explora
K.J. Charles
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 ...more
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 fami ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
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 ou
Ann Helen
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
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 operat
Resh (The Book Satchel)
The story takes place in a run-down clinic at the outskirts of a rural Indian village where a once-successful surgeon provides health care to the residents. An untrained pharmacist and her husband assist him in running the clinic. One day the dead visit the clinic. The dead family includes a teacher, his pregnant wife and their son who (acc to them) were stabbed and killed in an attack. However they struck a deal with an angel (an official of the afterlife) to return back to life. But only if th ...more
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
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.

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Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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 wh
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
[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. ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Interesting premise. A recently murdered family appears in a hospital in rural India as ghosts/zombies. They have been given a second chance at life. If the local surgeon can repair their wounds by morning, they will be brought back to life.

I liked the story of the surgeon trying to save the family members lives while also juggling his other patients. I think the author was trying to explore ideas about reincarnation and the stresses of being a doctor and other stuff, but it honestly went over m
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read “Night Theater” for my online book club the #BicoastalBibliophiles. We are always trying to read diverse, interesting books and this one was a perfect recommendation from @inkandpaperblog. I listened to the audiobook and it was a great listening experience. I don’t always listen to fiction because I can get bored and zone out, missing some plot points. I was engaged the whole time with this book.

The book starts with a surgeon who is working in a remote village with limited supplies and le
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is really something special. The cover is stunning, the story compelling, the world both familiar and strange. If I had one reservation, it would be that everything is laid out in the first few chapters, and after that not much more develops or changes. But it's such a short and enthralling book that I didn't mind so much. Looking forward to more from this author.
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 lo ...more
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 fami ...more
thoughts coming shortly
Gail (The Knight Reader)
Post Read, Immediate Reaction:

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.

Andy Weston
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, india
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.
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Vikram Paralkar is not the first modern doctor who has turned to fiction. That list is wide and long and includes Abraham Verghese, Chris Adrian, Vincent Lam and Perri Klass—to name just a few. But this author may be one of the first to delve into magic realism, a thorny genre to navigate, and he crafts a spellbinding tale.

His premise: a highly skilled, bitter, older surgeon has been exiled to a rural and ill-equipped Indian clinic (we find out why much later). Into his clinic comes a family – a
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, edelweissplus
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 its 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,
A strange and wonderful literary fable examining the mysteries of both life and death. Stellar prose. The less the reader knows about the plot of this book going in, the better. Can't wait for more from this author.
Charlotte Jones
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copies
*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I went into this book knowing very little and expecting a quiet story of a remote village. What I got is one of the most immersive books I’ve ever read; a book that kept me thinking about it every time I put it down and once I’d finished.

Telling the story of a surgeon in a small village who finds himself having to operate on three victims of a violent attack, this short novel explores so many larger themes
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, book-club
Four ⭐️ for the book and five ⭐️ for the discussion we had amongst my fellow Bicoastal Bibliophiles. It’s a great one for discussion!

I knew nothing going in except I needed to read it by Sunday. The setting and the plot grabbed me right away. I loved the characters. There is a major fantastical element to the story as well as some fascinating medical details. Maybe too much detail for one of our group, but I can enjoy some gruesomeness with my well told tales. The author is a doctor, and I felt
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Born and raised in Mumbai, Vikram Paralkar lives in the United States and is a hematologist-oncologist and scientist at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of two novels: 'The Afflictions' and 'The Wounds of the Dead.'

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“Health itself appeared so bleak a state that sickness and death wrung little pity from him any more. Sometimes, when a patient’s final breaths seemed no more than the last turns of a wheel, leaving behind an object to be removed, charred, turned to ash, and stirred into a riverbed, his indifference terrified even him.” 1 likes
“Sometimes, when a patient’s final breaths seemed no more than the last turns of a wheel, leaving behind an object to be removed, charred, turned to ash, and stirred into a riverbed, his indifference terrified even him.” 0 likes
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