Best of Books – December 2015

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The Bard of Blood

A 20 year old Bilal Siddiqui makes his author debut with this gripping crime thriller. They say the dedication is one of the key factors that gives you an insight into the writer and Bilal wrote this one out beautifully. The book was very well researched, I must say, along with the help of the US and Indian intelligence agents and war correspondents and written under the guidance of crime writer S. Hussain Zaidi. The book revolves around Kabir Anand, an ex-RAW agent who had to forcefully leave the organization after a disastrous mission in Balochistan in 2006, and who was forcefully brought back to carry out another mission in Balochistan. This is his time to avenge not just his defamation, but also the death of his mentor and father figure – Sadiq Sheikh. Despite a number of characters and several location changes the book moves with a fast speed and smooth understanding. There is also a lovely hint of love and yes, death. So all in all, it was definitely a good read and crime-thriller readers should pick this one up for sure.

In conversation with Bilal Siddiqui

Who or what inspired you to write this book so early on?
Around the time I had turned 17, I had a sudden growing interest in the covert world of espionage. And it wasn’t a James Bond film that drew me to this newfound interest of mine. It was, in fact, the entire talk of jihad and Islamic extremism that plagued every newspaper. Being a Muslim, I wanted to understand why I was so different from them, when ideally, we both were supposed to believe in the same set of principles? One thing led to another, and I had suddenly read a lot more than anyone else my age probably had about the subject, finding myself disagreeing with the ideology that had tweaked itself conveniently to something it was never meant to be.  I wanted to create a character worth his salt, that wouldn’t seem like a ‘me too’ of a Bond or a Bourne, but could stand his own. And what’s more, he was going to be set in the real world dealing with what could well be real situations.

Are you currently working someplace or completely focused on your next book ?
I was writing the book while I was still in college (St. Xaviers). I was also (and still am) working at Red Chillies Entertainment. So juggling all of it was a little difficult. I used to go to college in the morning, then work and then write in the night into the wee hours of the morning. I used to enjoy it thoroughly, despite it being extremely hectic. I don’t like taking time off. I like keeping myself busy. It makes me feel better than just lazing around!

Can you give us a glimpse into your next work?
My next work is very different from this one. It is non-fiction and I have co-written it with Emraan Hashmi. It’s about Emraan’s four year old son’s battle with cancer. It deals with interesting anecdotes from his life and also is very informative about cancer itself.