The Real Mr. Barkotoki

Shisir Basumatari


Speaking Tiger Academic










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(Paperback | ISBN 9789389231656 | 184 pages | 2019)


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.

But 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. Encountering ghostly magistrates, cars flying through time and space, missing plutonium on the Nanda Devi, The Real Mr. Barkotoki is a trippy adventure and a visual treat. Distinctly illustrated in the vein of Joe Sacco’s gritty realism, this graphic novel brings to life one of Assam’s best known and most mystifying figures in an entertaining noir-style mystery.