Fiction - Literary
202 Pages
Reviewed on 10/10/2023
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

Author Biography

Shekhar Khatri is a contemporary artist, born in India and now living in Canada. His literary work delves in genres such as magical realism and surrealist fiction. He began writing his debut novel, "Grasslands" at the age of 18, and published at the age of 22. His body of work also includes paintings, digital illustrations, and poetry.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite

Grasslands by Shekhar Khatri exists exuberantly beyond the reach of literary classification. It’s a novel like no other: with roots in magical realism, absurdist fantasy, mythology, the epic, and fairy tales, Khatri’s story defies categorization in stunning and often mind-expanding ways. Grasslands’ protagonist, whose name Khatri never reveals, is a curious, captivating, utterly stereotype-shattering cross-pollination of Siddhartha and Everyman who embarks on a strange and mystical journey that begins at a friend’s birthday party and ends in the spiritual realm at the edge of eternity. Along the way, mythical and illusory characters enter the scene to play their parts, weaving a surreal tapestry spanning this world and the next (and several worlds in between). Grasslands is truly a splendid departure from the ordinary for those looking to expand their vision and who are willing to surrender themselves to a series of worlds where anything is possible, nothing is as expected, and virtually everything defies normalcy.

Grasslands is Shekhar Khatri’s debut novel, and the literary world would do well to pay attention. From all indications, the well of Khatri’s creativity is very, very deep, and readers hungry for innovation have much to look forward to in his future work. Those willing to cast aside any presupposed notions of how a narrative has traditionally been constructed and embrace the tesseract of Khatri’s groundbreaking multi-layered, interwoven alternate realities will no doubt be richly rewarded for having done so. Shekhar Khatri’s Grasslands is a rare glimpse of uncharted literary territory, ideal for those seeking a bit of literary magic and mysticism with a surreal twist.

Pikasho Deka

Grasslands by Shekhar Khatri is a surreal fantasy novel that opens with an unnamed narrator getting a text from his roommate, Naman, about their mutual friend's birthday party. The narrator arrives at the party, and soon he and his friends find themselves taking a stroll in the woods, where they encounter a witch who leaves a cryptic message for the narrator. Eager to find his destination, the narrator enters a cabin where he comes across a medieval book about the life of a man named Aleko, who rose from his humble beginnings to become the king of his nation, only to realize later in his life the atrocities he had to commit in getting to his position. Now, back in the woods, the narrator leaves his friends to enter a cave where his destiny awaits.

Soaked in magical realism and absurdism, Grasslands is a wild rollercoaster of a novel that won't let you take your eyes off the pages. Shekhar Khatri's fantastical tale plays out like a feverish dream that transports you into a world of magic, wonder, tragedy, and mystery. After finishing the book, you will find yourself contemplating the story repeatedly. The narrative is non-linear and feels like a portrait of abstract art with so many layers that it leaves much room for interpretation. There are multiple plot threads that come together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle toward the end for a soaring climax. Grasslands is not like a traditional fantasy novel, and clearly, it's not for everyone. But if you enjoy literary fiction, surreal stories, or experimental narratives, this book will be right up your alley!

K.C. Finn

Grasslands is a work of fiction in the metaphysical, philosophical, and adventure subgenres. It is best suited to mature readers owing to its adult subject matter concerning drugs and sex. Penned by author Shekhar Khatri, this surreal and thought-provoking journey takes readers through the realms of fantasy, magical realism, and metaphysical themes. The story follows a university student who embarks on a mysterious journey during his friend's birthday party in search of an impossible dream. The narrative is a blend of timelines, subplots, and non-linear structure, making it a challenging yet captivating read.

Author Shekhar Khatri's debut novel is a work of art that paints vivid and absurd pictures in the reader's mind, delving into timeless philosophical questions and exploring the depths of human desires and passions. It's a narrative that doesn't follow traditional storytelling conventions but invites readers to embrace its uniqueness. I really enjoyed following the stream of consciousness as it winds its way to different thoughts and conclusions, tying up some threads and leaving others to wander for a while before they’re answered. Khatri's ability to express his out-of-this-world imagination coherently is commendable, with vivid description that is not only cinematic but multi-sensory. Amongst its many twists, turns, and thinking points, the samurai subplot and the raw depiction of human passions were particularly fascinating from Khatri’s vivid perspective of narration. Overall, Grasslands is a literary gem that offers a unique and surreal reading experience. If you appreciate great art and are open to unconventional storytelling, this book is a must-read.

Asher Syed

Grasslands by Shekhar Khatri is speculative fiction that follows multiple characters and storylines. Arthur and Miles execute a mission to infiltrate a research facility, successfully accessing the secretive basement filled with equipment and confidential documents. Meanwhile, Maxime, Kentaro, Naman, and Damon embark on an impromptu club outing that unfolds with mysterious encounters and, later, follows cryptic coordinates to a hidden cave in an arcane forest, meeting a witch and discovering surreal landscapes. In an alternative narrative, Aleko's journey as a student, soldier, and eventual leader unfolds, culminating in a dramatic, cataclysmic battle that brings Khatri's story full circle in an incredible shaping of an ancient kingdom's future and the contemporary transition of a fiery end and rebirth of a new era.

There is a ton to unpack in Grasslands as Shekhar Khatri uses a massive cast of characters, each of which is fully developed and distinct, and point of view shifts that provide a full view of unfolding events. And the events that unfold are numerous. From a literary standpoint, the writing is intelligent, and its style is reminiscent of classic literary fiction. The prose is often flowery, and Khatri has a tendency toward intricate vocabulary, but both suit the labyrinthine subplots and anchor the overall narrative. The standout for me was the dialogue, which, in contrast to the narrative, is extremely relatable and among the most organic I've come across. The banter in particular can be hilarious and builds on the camaraderie of the group. Aleko's storyline is exceptional, and as a character, he is formidable as a warrior and also in politics, able to place himself between conflict, like at a dinner where the fate of Kavakazi's territorial strategy hangs in the balance. Grasslands is the type of novel that keeps a reader thinking after the last page, and as far as metaphysical literary fiction goes, this is a comfortable bet. Recommended.