The Confession of Sultana Daku
7 July 1924. Sultana Daku, notorious leader of a gang of bhantu dacoits that terrorized the towns and villages of the United Provinces, awaits Lt. Col. Samuel Pearce’s arrival in Haldwani jail. It is Sultana’s last night. In the morning he will be hanged. Wrapped in a haze of charas and nostalgia, the daku speaks all night as the Englishman listens. He recounts tales of incredible feats and narrow escapes, of the camaraderie he shared with his bhantu companions, of his love for the nautanki dancer Phulkanwar, and of the shocking betrayal that brought him to the gallows. But even as Pearce and the reader are drawn into Sultana’s confession, the contradictions that emerge reveal the daku’s own demons—his fears, superstitions and ruthless excesses—and an unshakeable belief in his criminal destiny that clashes all too often with his secret longings and hopes. Combining swashbuckling adventure with a moving story of human frailty and fortitude, The Confession of Sultana Daku is a grand narrative that is as mesmerizing as it is unsettling. Told with remarkable flair, passion and a rare sensitivity, it seals Sujit Saraf’s reputation as a master storyteller.