The Real Mr Barkotoki: Read an excerpt from Shisir Basumatari's graphic novel on the enigmatic Assamese writer-critic

A young man is troubled by recurring dreams of visiting a mysterious Munin Barkotoki, ‘a God-fearing man’, every night. Later at a scrap dealer’s shop, when he accidentally unearths a book by the very same person, he is shocked and intrigued. The ‘man of his dreams’ happened to be very real, and a noted Assamese writer and critic.

Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, he teams up with his friend, Capt D, and Dr Das, a psychologist, to piece together the identity of this reclusive, enigmatic figure and why he continues to haunt his dreams. Through his hypnosis sessions with Dr Das, and rifling through Barkotoki’s diaries, speeches, audio recordings, he attempts to decipher the brilliant mind of Assamese literature. On the way, he uncovers his quirks, such as his famous walk to the District Library in Guwahati at exactly the same time every day, his atrocious handwriting, and his staunch literary activism during British rule.

Still, each step that they take leads them to a dead end. This leaves them with no choice but to undertake a journey into the afterlife.

***

The following excerpt is from the first chapter of Shisir Basumatari's latest graphic novel, The Real Mr Barkotoki, in which he blends noir, mystery and biographical elements from the life of the noted Assamese writer and critic, Munin Barkotoki and presents them through an assortment of graphics. The novel includes depictions of the protagonist encountering ghostly magistrates, cars flying through time and space, missing plutonium on the Nanda Devi, among many other adventures.

Speaking about the following visuals and putting them in context of the theme of his book, Basumatari told Firstpost:

"The language in these pages mimics how a child develops language, first through the visual and then a progression into a mix of images and words. In addition to introducing the reader to the visual language, this chapter also brings to light the core issue in the story — a recurring dream on the elusive Munin Barkotoki. What follows is the protagonist’s journey to understand his dream and the man in that dream. In this attempt to put a lid to his recurring dreams, the protagonist uncovers the world of Munin Barkotoki. It is a fiction that works its way into becoming a biopic."

These panels from the graphic novel have been reproduced with permission from the publisher, Speaking Tiger Books (Tiger Print).

 The Real Mr Barkotoki: Read an excerpt from Shisir Basumataris graphic novel on the enigmatic Assamese writer-critic

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The Real Mr Barkotoki is written by Shisir Basumatari | 2019 | 184 pages | Paperback: Rs 499 (978-93-89231-65-6) | Speaking Tiger Books (Tiger Print)

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Updated Date: Jan 05, 2020 09:54:20 IST