The Incidental Jihadi by Samrat Mitra

It is easy to forget that war torn countries are actually homes to some people.. I mean, all you ever hear is of the fighters. You never hear of the people who watch beheadings happen so close to home. People who have gotten used to the smell of gunpowder. People who are no longer fazed by the sound of bullets cutting through the air. People whose mere presence amidst the chaos has made them parties in the war. 

The Incidental Jihadi is a story about Len who later becomes Naim. Len is a geologist working at an oil exploration company. All is well with his family until he is sent on a risky exploration mission. A mission that will forever change the trajectory of his life and that of his family. He must liberate his family and therefore joins the war. He manages to sneak Omarm, his son, to safety. He cannot live in bliss though as he has to go back in for another try. Will he succeed in an endeavor that even he has little hope of achieving success?

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This is a very well told story. It is detailed. You can almost smell the desperation and hatred in the air. You can feel the aggression. Samrat Mitra tells such a vivid account of events that the reader finds themselves plunged deep into the heart of war torn Middle Eastern locations. The reader will find themselves lost in a fight that very few understand anmore. A war whose collateral damage seems to be worsening with every line they read. It flows easily. In the author’s note at the back, Samrat says that this book is a depiction of actual events. The reader will be able to feel the air of reality, though unbelievable, in this story. 

The author also seems to have a sober political mind. There is understanding of the political element of the events that take place. However, emotion seems to get away from him as he essentially calls some parties ignorant. Though somewhat truthful it brings out the author’s passion. It gives he book character. 

When Naim sends his son off to London for safety, he writes him a letter. The letter does not encourage the son to seek revenge. His letter does not seek to inspire bitterness. It encourages him to deal with his pain.. To use his pain to help him grow. It encourages him to think about people who were not as lucky as he is. This is beautiful. It is special. It makes Len my absolute favorite character. His reasons for doing the things he does are honorable. His are not superficial reasons. Hence he urges Omar to remember why he had to go back. For one final try.

This book may need some polishing but honestly the sheer passion and compelling plot overshadow whatever writing errors one might encounter. You will experience a cornucopia of emotions. This book really is an alternative view. It will urge you to think about a different dimension of the wars.

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