A poor surgeon flees a scandal in the city and accepts a job at a village clinic. He buys antibiotics out of pocket, squashes roaches, and chafes at the interventions of the corrupt officer who oversees his work. This new novel from Vikram Paralkar, Night Theater, delves into a spiritual depth, exploring afterlife and mortality.

Born and raised in Mumbai, Vikram Paralkar now lives in the US and is a hematologist-oncologist and scientist at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of two novels, The Afflictions and The Wounds of the Dead, prior to Night Theater.

One night a teacher, his pregnant wife, and their young son appear, altering the protagonist’s views in the novel. Killed during a violent robbery, they infotm him that they have been given a second chance to live if the surgeon can heal their wounds before sunrise.

It becomes clear throughout the night that the surgeon’s future is tied more closely to that of the dead family than he could possibly have imagined. It really challenges perceptions of life and death does Paralkar’s new work, Night Theater. Dark, morbid and yet exploratory and compelling, this book is a dreadful yet wonderful read simultaneously. With scenes in a surgery that do little to pull me in, there is much throughout the rest of this novel that will do this job.

Inventive and challenging in nature, this novel charged with philosophical gravity is worth the time. Deeply engaging, the novel investigates earthly injustice and ponderings of the afterlife. incorporating social criticism and magical, unreal drama, Night Theater is a novel more satisfying for its existential inquiry rather than the story of a skeptical physician who arrives at a greater understanding of life’s miracles. With vivid prose, and the suspense of the time constraint, it’s almost impossible to put this novel down. Magical realism that highlights corruption, Night Theater is an unusual yet fascinating read.

Night Theater is out presently in the US, published by Catapult.