By the Shadows and the Sunlight by Saurav Dutt – A Brilliant Book of Four Stories, Features Tribute to an Indian Girl Killed for Wearing Jeans

By now we reckon Saurav Dutt a rich and elegant English writer from the Indian origin. We have read almost all his novels, fiction ones. And we are compelled to say that he is simply superb and terrific with his unique yet relevant stories. His novels are exemplary; he raises voice with such a subtle art that you ultimately grow fond of him. But on the sad side, we are waiting him to be as popular as Amitav Ghosh or Anjali Joseph in India. He will be claimed by millions, sooner or later. Best of luck, Saurav.

Anyway, we got another book by him. That’s a collection of four long stories. It’s again set in the experimental tone, out of four stories, one is based on sense of recognition crises, two are horror with dark secrets, and the last one raises voice against the atrocity of women in India. The last story is a, rather, dedication to seventeen-year-old girl named Neha Paswan from North India. She was killed by her family members for just being outward and wearing a pair of jeans. Being modern was her crime that provoked her entire village that went against her. She was killed and people took it as honour killing.

“And so the hate for this young woman unfolded. Sanjani was a whore, Sanjani was a drug addict, Sanjani was pregnant from a foreigner she slept with while on a secret date in Lucknow, Sanjani had stolen from the family and intended to run off to the city with their life savings.”

Since, this is going to be an elaborative review, let’s discuss the semblance of all stories briefly.


Scenes from a Kolkata Side Street

This is a story of Sujata, an NRI from Canada. She comes to Kolkata on her father’s death. She hoped for the same welcome and feelings that she would got when she was home…but reality differs. Her NRI status is something that made her mother and brother alienate from her. She meets both family and a stranger and both cite different reasons for the death of her father.

She leaves the country thinking it’s no receptive to her. People cut her off from the real truth. She leaves on a sad note. Fabric of lies makes her stranger to her own people. Backdrop of Kolkata was vibrant with Saurav’s elaborate wordsmithing.


An Abandoned Whisper

A travel writer cum critique named Timothy Cartwright lands in Jalandhar, Punjab. He takes residency in a palatial hotel. It’s a ghost story. He meets one enigmatic woman who was waiting for revenge. There was land feud and much more, the dark secrets date back to the British Raj. Will the writer do something stupid in some crazy stupor? Looks like…


A Summon that Flickers

It is a horror story of one old man who calls his dead people by playing flute at night. His secrets cross with a young girl from neighborhood. She spies on him. Upon the discovery, she longs to connect with the soul of her dead mother. Will she be able to do that or something scary trample her? 


The Girl with the Blue Jeans

This is a dedication to Neha Paswan. In the story, she is Sanjani.

Despite variance in the genres, the author kept the focus on the last story. Even at many platforms, the book is being known for a tribute to Neha Paswan. On the pros side, this time Saurav took time to play with horror elements, especially with second and third story.

Saurav’s delicate and elaborate execution of words set the tone and measured pace for his stories. He explored and questioned the core of our patriarchal society against the freedom and the rights of women.

Title By the Shadows and the Sunlight
Edition Reviewed 2021
AuthorSaurav Dutt
The Asian Review Rating9 out of 10

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