The Tree with a Thousand Apples

Blurb: ‘If a criminal was once a saint and a saint was once a criminal, then who is a criminal and who is a saint?’ Inspired by true events, this riveting narrative traces the lives of Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat and Bilal Ahanagar, three childhood friends who grow up in an atmosphere of peace and amity in Srinagar, Kashmir, until the night of 20 January 1990 changes it all. While Deewan is forced to flee from his home, Safeena’s mother becomes ‘collateral damage’ and Bilal has to embrace a wretched life of poverty and fear. The place they called paradise becomes a battleground and their friendship struggles when fate forces them to choose sides against their will.Twenty years later destiny brings them to a crossroads again, when they no longer know what is right and what is wrong. While both compassion and injustice have the power to transform lives, will the three friends now choose to become sinful criminals or pacifist saints? The Tree with a Thousand Apples is a universal story of cultures, belongingness, revenge and atonement. The stylised layered format, fast-paced narration and suspenseful storytelling make for a powerful, gripping read

About the author: Born and brought up in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, Sanchit began his career as a part-time copywriter. He went on to co-found his own theatre group, worked as a freelance film screenwriter and as executive producer–fiction for a leading television network. His short stories have been published in several publications and lit festivals, viz Muse India, Indian Ruminations, Contemporary Literary Review India and Tata Lit Live to name a few. He has worked with All India Radio as a talk show host and regularly features in poetry recitals at Prithvi Café, Mumbai. This is his debut novel, the screenplay based on which has been long-listed in Sundance screenwriters’ International lab- US. When not writing, he is usually hanging out with his wife or looking for people to play poker with. He says his works explore his fascination for global cultures, societal structures, vagaries of the world and the human mind, but you know that’s all blah.

Review:  The Tree with a Thousand Apples is stories of different people their belongings and their vengeances. Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat and Bilal Ahanagar grow up in peace in Kashmir. After a dark January night their lives completely change, Deewan flees from his home; Safeena’s mother turns into a ‘collateral damage’ and Bilal becomes poor. Their paradise becomes a battleground. 20 years later destiny brings three friends together. The story of Safeena, Bilal and Deewan pulls the reader into a universe of darkness which makes us question our own principles. The author Sanchit Gupta, has inputs talking to the locals from Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, Sopore and Jammu, which created the landscape, the story, the culture and characters. This is author’s debut book. The book is dedicated to Kashmiri youth of 1990s who struggled through the past 26 years. The writing, the description, the scene is so authentic; giving you the right feel of the events happening around you. The story line and pace are so interesting that you cannot put it down until you finish the book. The author definitely has a strong control with words and has managed to write this story in such easy language that it can be enjoyed by all kinds of readers. I liked that this book gives you an honest insight into the story reflecting the stories on both sides of the coin, without being unfair to any side.


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