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Night Theatre

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  141 ratings  ·  45 reviews
As dusk approaches, a former surgeon goes about closing up his dilapidated clinic in rural India. His day, like all his days, has been long and hard. His medical supplies arrive late if at all, the electrics in the clinic threaten to burn out at any minute, and his overseer, a corrupt government official, blackmails and extorts him. It is thankless work, but the surgeon ha ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 21st 2019 by Serpent's Tail (first published 2017)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  141 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dark, hope, asia, india, weird, religion
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
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
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Ann Helen
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 h
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it
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. societa ...more
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
Andy Weston
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 sle
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
Nicki Markus
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
John  Trident
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lel Budge
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The day the dead visited the surgeon, the air in his clinic was laced with formaldehyde. His pharmacist had poured some into a beaker in the operating room and given it a night to scour every corner.”

The surgeon, Doctor Saheb, is a general Doctor in a small rural village in India. The surgery struggles for supplies but he does his absolute best for his patients.

He often uses his own money to pay for supplies which have have disappeared, taken by the corrupt and only returned o
Claire The Bristol Reader
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a macabre little gem! 💎

Imagine you were a former surgeon in rural India, closing up your clinic for the night, when a family arrives at your door with fatal knife wounds, begging for you to repair the damage and bring them back to life? What would you do?

I really enjoyed this debut from Vikram Paralkar, published by @serpentstail in February.
I'm not usually a big fan of magical realism, but this took me totally by surprise. It took me a while to warm up to the bo
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: india
Strange, dark fable set in a run down clinic in rural India. The highly qualified surgeon who has ended up working there is visited by a family of three who have been brutally murdered - he is told that if he manages to mend their wounds by dawn they will have the chance to live again. The story continues over the course of that night.

It’s a quick read and I almost read it in one sitting. At the heart of the book are a multitude of philosophical questions (including on morality; religion; life,
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweissplus, 2019
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
Coral Davies
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Night Theatre is a powerful fable about the miracles we ask of doctors, and the fine line they negotiate between life and death.

On a night like any other, Doctor Saheb finds himself confronted by three patients (a pregnant mother, father and son) with an unusual and horrifying plea - to fix their fatal wounds before the sun comes up and they are once again forced to endure an agonising death.

This is a musing on life, death, hope, God and the human drive to beg and bribe o
Grace Machon
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I requested this book from the publisher because I liked the cover and had no idea what I was getting myself in for and just wow.
Magic realism and literature twisted up in a harrowing tale of death and what it means to be alive. Sad, scary and touching this books gorgeous prose and wonderful version of what comes after will not leave me for such a long time
Gruesome, disturbing and wildly compelling.
Ushnav Shroff
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'The Wounds Of The Dead' will easily be the best book I'd have read in the month of January. The blurb on the back cover itself grabbed my attention and hasn't let gone until now. Written ever so vividly by Vikram Paralkar, the events in the book space out over 200-odd pages but only last a night in the fictional world. Even then, the chapters never lagged or lost out on meaning for me. All in all, a must-read for readers to start off their new year on a wacky note.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: winter-2020, 2020
A surgeon must bring a dead family back to life in this fabulist novel set in rural India, which examines power, corruption, and ethics.
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written book with more depth than is perhaps apparent at first site.

The surgeon is a general Doctor in a small rural village in India. He is over qualified for this position but generally does his best for the people. He often puts his own money forward to pay for supplies which have have disappeared into the ether of corruption and palm greasing that appears common. One night he is visited by an extraordinary family; a man, his pregnant wife and their son. Thei
Ashwini Abhyankar
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I requested this book, I wasn’t certain what I was in for and as I started reading after being approved, I still didn’t know what I was in for. That says a lot, doesn’t it? I mean, throughout the addictive book, I was left wondering if it is medical fiction or if it’s magical realism? Whether the incident happening was real or just someone’s nightmare?

There is a tiny village somewhere in India (from what I gathered, it might have been set in Maharashtra seeing as the people spok
Anne Goodwin
In an under-resourced clinic in rural India, the doctor is relieved to reach the end of another gruelling day. About to shut up shop, he’s waylaid by three strangers: a woman, a man and their eight-year-old son. They’re in urgent need of medical attention, having been attacked and left for dead. In fact, they are dead, but have been granted a second chance. If the doctor can fix their wounds before daybreak, they’ll live again; if not, they’ll face another painful death.

As a man of s
John Rennie
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure whether to advise people to read this book or not. It's an interesting book and I found I spent several hours after I'd finished it thinking about what it meant, so the book succeeded in entertaining me. However it isn't a nice story and none of the characters are nice. The temptation is to empathise with the surgeon, but he's bad tempered and arrogant and probably not someone I'd ever want to meet in person.

I don't know whether this book has anything deep to say or if i
Kelda Anderson
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Picked this up on a whim as I wanted something to read that wasn't going to take an age. I didn't look at the description before picking it up so I had no idea what I was in for.
Having said all of this I was incredibly surprised. This was ace.
It's a weird, macabre, mystery novel which you should definitely give a go.
I was continuously compelled to read this throughout and loved the way Paralkar kept me interested even though the whole novel is set in one small clinic in India.
Even if you're
Caleb Masters
A literary page-turner, Paralkar’s Night Theater is an engaging exploration of life, death, and the afterlife. The novel follows a jaded, washed-up surgeon in rural India - under-staffed, under-supplied, and overly cynical. Late one night, a young family, recently murdered yet somehow walking and talking, visits his clinic telling the surgeon that they can have a second chance at life only if he is able to repair their wounds that night before they are fully reanimated. What follows is a tautly paced, ...more
For a story that is heavily steeped in mysticism and belief, this was one of the most realistic depictions of medical practitioners I've ever seen: exhausted, burnt out, full of self doubt, at the end of their tether... and yet still continuing to assist those in need.

The story was intriguing and engrossing. I couldn't put it down.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC.
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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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