Tag Archives: Indian Fiction

Book Review of The Persecution of Madhav Tripathi by Aditya Sudarshan

The Persecution of Madhav Tripathi

by Aditya  Sudarshan

This fast paced, yet gentle read, treads carefully the life and prosecution of Madhav Tripathi – an officer in the ministry. And its not just him. Others around him too become a victim. Madhav is abducted, he manages to flee, and gets back to his girlfriend. There on anyone and everyone become their suspects.

The Persecution of Madhav Tripathi

With the turn of events, you see Madhav facing prosecution at all levels – physical, emotional and psychological. People, things and events from his past surface creating a matrix with his present only to ruin it for his future.  There’s an uprising, of feelings, emotions (guilt), and people. There’s democracy covered by the garb of hypocrisy. A latent desire to know more than one must. And an active roar to reach the top.

The perfect tiff between the past and the future.
The author takes you on an enthralling adventure unveiling the truth of our society.

I’d say treat it like a work of fiction which it is. But when you read it, it feels more real than truth itself. Aditya’s style of writing has evolved and he can sure keep his readers captive, slowly. There’s violence, humor, wit, and more importantly a mesmerizing mystery to solve.

It took me a while to pick up the book, but I’m glad I did. The thriller is quite a work of art. A good effort.

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Book Review of “The Other Side of the Table” by Madhumita Mukherjee

The Other Side of the Table
By
Madhumita Mukerjee

The other side of the table

The other side of the table

When the book arrived, I was overtly excited to begin reading, given its soothing cover page and quite an appealing format (letters).

The book format quite unusual for a debut writer – in the form of letters, exchanged between two friends – Abhimanyu and Uma.

Spanning almost a decade, the letters reflect the friendship (and eventually the love) shared by the two protagonists. Uma is about 10 years younger to Abhi and is studying medicine in Calcutta, while Abhi is a practicing surgeon in London.

The ten years of their lives, captured through the letters exchanged, make for decent read. With each letter exchanged, you peep a bit deeper in to their lives and discover more about their personalities and surroundings. Their experiences, their joys, their sorrows, the challenge faced, the hurdles overcome, the dreams cherished and the ambitions brewed.

The format definitely is new and gripping but the language got me a little disinterested.

Given the fact that I can’t get myself to put a book down once I begin reading, saw me struggle through certain portions.

There were places where the language was overtly sweet, as if Abhi was trying to “impress” Uma. I personally do not like “sweet talk” or as you say “buttering-up”- for as far as I know, no one in the real world indulges in such verbose as used in the letters. No wonder I was immensely turned off to the extent of wondering if such people do still exist (and if they do, please steer clear of me!)

I agree that the premise of the story, though ordinary, does have a grip. I appreciate the fact that the author did not use medical terminology extensively at the risk of losing her readers. And the emotions, quite relatable, bring you closer to the protagonists.

Overall, it is a decent story of love, loss, friendship, overcoming difficulties and taking a stride in life to bring out the real you.

The story could have been more gripping, personally, had there been less of “jibber-jabber”.

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Book Review of “A Bolt of Lightning” by Satyen Nabar

A Bolt of Lightning

By Satyen Nabar

This book arrived when I was in the middle of another book. It was pure curiosity that got me reading the first page. Before I knew it, I had breezed through the first 100 pages!

It wasn’t easy to read two books simultaneously. But I managed!

The plot overall is funny, engrossing, interesting, unique, relatable, with a fresh perspective.

I don’t think I could give a better plot summary than the one on the book: Shiva, 35, hotshot executive, recently divorced, disillusioned with his life and fed up of the rat race in the corporate world, topples completely over the edge after an unexpected tragic incident.
In a hilarious journey from the boardrooms of Bangalore to the hippies, face readers, casinos and rave parties on the verdant beaches of Goa, Shiva attempts to ‘escape from it all’ till his life suddenly changes in miraculous ways after an electrifying act of nature bestows him with an extraordinary gift. Anchored by the strong bond of friendship with his college mates, Sid and Adi, and propelled by love for Anita his estranged ex-wife, Shiva attempts to make the most of his incredible gift to unravel the secrets of life, death and happiness as the story races to its exhilarating conclusion in the exotic jungle valley of Arambol, Goa. And it is a “bolt of lightning” that somewhat sets things right in his life.

This story is a witty and contemporary take on a midlife crisis story with an unusual twist in the tale. It at once touches the heart and entertains while offering a fascinating new perspective of the world we inhabit.

The language is quite simple (mostly) but at places the author makes splendid sentences that make you smile, giggle, laugh, praise and feel jealous – all at once!
The realities of present day life – building work pressures, haphazard social and personal life, meaningless rat-race, need and desire for introspection, battle to make time for oneself and loved ones, depression, loneliness, and addictions that engulf us at the end of it all – interestingly portrayed and brilliantly connected.

The timeline (past and present) keeps you quite alert and awake. It keeps you hooked. it keeps you excited. The characters have been etched thoughtfully. Though I personally feel the author could’ve limited their description and habit- since they were bound to be understood / interpreted by the reader during the course of the story. Anyway, that’s just my perspective.

There is much more to the story, and its characters, apart from their emotions, actions, deeds, thoughts, and behaviour. A hidden message. The eternal quest. A gripping need to introspect right away. To live in the moment. To live for the day. To follow your heart. And to read more and more!

I would definitely recommend this book to all!

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Interview with Parimal Kalikar

After having read “A Godly Blunder“, I couldn’t resist shooting a few questions to the debutant author- Parimal Kalikar. Here’s it all !

 

From Hotel Management to a Master’s in Human Resource Management; from earning the first buck as a bell boy to selling credit cards- let’s hear about it all from the beginning in your own words.
I joined Hotel Management with a dream of a suave lifestyle and good money but that dream was shattered with my first training at a five star resort in Goa. I ended up pulling luggage for wealthy guests (Yes you call them guests and not clients in the hotel management lingo). Lost my interest in the line as I did not want to spend years becoming a manager and that’s why I pursued a career in business management. I bagged a job even before I got out of college and I was happy. My hunger for growth and money brought me to Mumbai and I danced. I danced to the tunes of the fast local train schedule, to the tunes of my pushing boss and to the very demanding tunes of the elite clientele. The money was good but I was not happy so I decided to do something that will for a change make me happy.

 

 

What got you attracted towards writing? What prompted you to debut with a full length novel?
I left my job and started planning my own business but with the limited capital it was not easy. In the meanwhile I started writing a story that will talk about the way we approach our problems. Slowly and steadily it started taking shape and when the story was about 15000 words strong I could see the potential and I started putting a serious effort and within the next 2 months I was done with my first novel.

 

 

You know, the most difficult thing is to make people smile, let alone laugh. But your book delivers entertainment to the tee. How did you come up with the idea, the plot and the title?
The problem with us Indians is we get used to the problem very easily. If there is a pothole in the streets we very easily learn avoiding it rather than getting it fixed. We would rather lead unhappy lives and avoid confrontations that may lead to a solution. I don’t subscribe to this cowardly way of living. I started writing about the way a strong headed man from a developed country would approach similar problems and the idea itself seemed entertaining to me. For the plot I took problems from everyday life, some of them even faced by my family. The title was suggested to me by the publisher and I liked it.

 

 

When people write / publish for the first time, it is usually about incidents that they’ve experienced or have been related to closely. How easy / difficult was writing this humorous fictional tale? (I’m sure you did not have to experience “life-up-there” or a close encounter with God to write this.)
Imagining things and day dreaming is something I am very good at so the idea of creating a life up there was not that difficult. Creating a contemporary god was difficult and with a science fiction theme in     my mind I somehow convinced myself of the idea of a young, well dressed god. Conversations with god were the most difficult and with several attempts and guidance from my dear friend Abhishek I could bring out the aura of calmness in his conversations.

 

 

What was the first reaction from friends and family when you smiled and told them you were going to write a novel?
I did not tell anyone except my family that I was writing until I signed the contract with the publisher. Even my family was under the impression that I am writing to spend my free time and when the book was accepted for publishing, everyone was shocked.

 

 

An unforgettable experience that you’d like to share that happened before/during/after the writing process?
When I told everyone that a major publishing house has accepted my book for publishing the first question almost all of my relatives asked, ‘Is it in Marathi?’ As I had most of my education in Marathi medium no one expected me to write in English and it was a happy surprise for all of them.

 

How easy/difficult was it to get yourself published? A budding author like you, we’d like to know your opinion on the overall scenario of the publishing industry.
It was not easy to find a publisher for a novel without a love story or without a love angle what so ever. I was used to the standard reply, ‘Sorry we are unable to accept your work as it does not suit our publishing profile…’ and I had lost hopes when Rupa and co. gave me a chance. I think the overall opinion about Indian authors is changing and the place is getting better and better.

 

 

Name some of your favorite all time authors/ books
I love the works of Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson. I love Sherlock Holmes and Satyajit Ray’s Feluda. A couple of my favorite books include Hussain Zaidi’s Black Friday and Geoffrey Archer’s Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less.

 

 

Have you explored social media platforms to market your book? What’s your take on the growing popularity of social media networking sites?
Yes I have used social media to market my book and I must admit it is the most effective way of getting news around. I think social media websites have become an important part of everyone’s life as they give us a chance to connect with friends quickly and new people easily.

 

 

What next are you working on? And how soon do I get to read it??
I am working on a history based modern thriller and I hope I will finish it in a couple of months so it will be out by the year end I hope.

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Book Review of “A Godly Blunder” by Parimal Kalikar

A lazy weekday evening saw me trying to pick one of the many half-read books piled on my desk. As I wondered about which one to pick and definitely finish it that evening, a new book arrived for me.

My initial reaction- “Yayy!” followed by the grave “Dharm Sankat” kind of look.

I couldn’t wait to open the package and the minute I saw the cover I knew I had to finish my previous pile ASAP before I begin this one –for the simple reason that if I started reading “A Godly Blunder” before finishing my pending books, chances were that I might never return to them.
And boy was I right or Right!!!

I managed to finish 3 books within the next 5 days (with extensive breaks of course) and finally picked up Parimal’s debut offering – A Godly Blunder.

I held the book for a good five minutes before opening it. Pinaki De certainly should be praised for the cover design and illustrations. Very catchy. And funny.
The author’s thoughtful gesture of sending a signed bookmark with a special note on it made me smile.
He even wrote a personalized message thanking me on accepting the book for a review. (At this point, I’d accept a simultaneous “Awww….”from everyone reading this. Thank you.)

And so the journey to read the Godly blunder began.

The story is about a young German man, Oliver, who dies in an accident while at work. He is a quality control manager in a premium car company in West Germany. He finds himself in Heaven, along with his colleague Maik.

Now Heaven is described as a plush hotel (Hotel Paradise) with executive suites for all. The majestic decor of the place and the serenity make for enviable scenes, and you wish to be there than read about it in a book.

Oliver is living a dream it seems. Every day is a Sunday. Sumptuous food, tasteful liquor, splendid wardrobe, premium cars –oh the works! (All this with no “cost” or “fat” factor attached! Truly Blissful!!! Wish I were dead and there.)

Oliver is granted five minutes with the Almighty and the conversation hooks you on.

Twenty five years later (in God’s time) Oliver is called by God for an “assignment”. There seems to be a technical snag in the Soul Management System (SMS) of Swarg and until that is resolved Oliver is required to fill in for a soul (on Earth) who has been wrongly captured. No brownie points for guessing where Oliver is being sent- yes, India! That too Maharashtra!!!

Oliver is to take the place of a middle-class man Siddhesh and thus begins a roller coaster ride for the readers and for Oliver of course!

The corruption, the dishonesty, the “sab chalta hai” attitude, the meaning of “load-shedding”, “ghoos”, “Kharra” and many more things that hit Oliver make for a highly entertaining read.
He is cheated by his relatives, kidnapped by goons, meets a “babaji”, understands the mentality of people around him, and realizes how life in India functions- all in the span of a few months before he is called back.

And you know what – don’t miss out the last page. The crux of the story lies there. It will make you introspect. Even if for a minute.

 

You just know you’ve found a good book when you can’t wait to know what’s in store on the next page.
Parimal’s writing skills are superb. The plot and ideation are gripping. The pace is quite decent and the language is simply effective. The characters are strong and relatable to. Oliver is shown as a brave but sensitive man. You develop genuine concern for him as you read about his kidnapping and distraught state. This shows that the author has managed to establish a connect with his readers.

There are quips of wisdom, and spurts of humor; spears of sarcasm and witty arrows.
Do not miss Oliver’s conversation with the babaji (Chapter: You Don’t Need A God -Pg 131 onwards).

I barely found any flaws –be it in the editing of the book, or the grammar, or the language. Yes, no slangs to make it funny or gross.

Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful experience reading it.

Oh and I finished the book in about 5 hours! (I just got lazy to write the review earlier.)

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Book Review of “Just Friends” by Sumrit Shahi

Just Friends

By Sumrit Shahi

Picking this up wasn’t a bad deal at all. Sumrit has shown good potential with his debut novel JUST FRIENDS – a story that revolves around the friendship between a girl and a boy. The age old question of whether a girl and a guy can be friends seems to be answered almost perfectly by this teenager.

The story is about the two youngsters Aaryan and Tanie and their growing up years in school and hostel. Very relatable instances of the regular bunking, group studying, hostel tantrums, indulging in sports, examination fevers, friendships, crushes and first love add flavor and fragrance to his writing. School life is an important part of a person’s life. Those are the days of carelessness and alertness all the same. It somewhat leads you to your path ahead in life. For some, those are the most wonderful days of growing up…while for some a difficult road with hardships and bruises. Filled with humorous incidents and decently intellectual conversations, the book overall is a breezy and a refreshing read.

What prompted me more to pick up the book was its blurb/synopsis on the back page. “He knows everything about her, right from her favourite books to her favorite bra. She knows everything about him, right from his favourite soccer club to his favourite x rated websites. He will complete her English homework, even at three in the night. She will arrange an Armani suit for him, even if it calls for flirting with ugly guys. He has her picture in his wallet. She has his number on speedial. They talk to each other all the time. They talk about each other when they don’t talk to each other. They discuss everything from periods to playstation. They have tasted alcohol and then thrown up…together. They have bunked countless tuitions… together. They cant live without each other. YET They don’t love each other. They are JUST FRIENDS.”

Also, for me, most importantly, the correct usage of the language made it an enjoyable experience. I’m happy Sumrit did not disappoint me. There is humor, wit, emotions, and an element of connectivity.

Good work. Worth reading.

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Book Review of “Revolution 2020” by Chetan Bhagat

Revolution 2020

By Chetan Bhagat

I have a mixed view about Chetan Bhagat’s latest novel.

It opens with Mr. Chetan Bhagat visiting GangaTech College in Varanasi for a discourse. He meets Gopal and then we see Gopal pouring his heart out to Chetan Bhagat, under the influence of alcohol and a sad incident.

 

To give a background, this is a love triangle and it also brings out the corruption and facades of the education sector (with coaching classes mushrooming eveywhere, esp. for IIT, JEE and CAT exams).

Gopal belongs to a poor family. His friend Raghav belongs to a middle class family. And Aarti (Gopal’s love) belongs to the affluent section of society. Gopal has to struggle all his life for everything. From making a decent living to taking the exams to claiming his love. Raghav on the other hand stands up to values and fights against the wrong-doings in society. Aarti is a rich girl with her good looks and charming smile and great lifestyle. The three have been friends from childhood. Gopal falls in love with Aarti, while she falls in love with Raghav.

Then comes the “Love, Corruption and Ambition” angle to the story. Gopal wants to prove to Aarti that he is better than Raghav and he designs a plan to seek revenge in his own twisted way. He ends up starting his own college and coaching classes for IIT aspirants and takes the generation under his stride. Raghav is an upright and morally/ethically righteous person who defies everything wrong and corrupt. And we see the fight between the good and the bad.

Quite a bit of the book was clichéd and predictable. The climax was, yes, a bit “feel-good-factor”. The language and the flow of the story is very simple. I would’ve preferred crisper editing. But is it just me or do you also feel that the book read mostly like a movie script.
I even imagined the actors playing the parts while reading this one.
Not something that I would appreciate.

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