It's Wednesday, 3 pm in the afternoon and we just had a team lunch at a pretty cool restaurant, I am sleepy and trying really really hard to look alert even as I slump in front of the monitor. I am not kidding! Remember that Tom 'n' Jerry cartoon where Tom keeps his eyes stretched open with the help of match sticks? I probably need crowbars instead! My only hope of getting out of office without the embarrassment of falling off the chair while drowsing is completing this post somehow!
Anyhoo. Moving on to the post. Point is, I always had this thing against Indian authors. Probably because they write much too complicated stuff, not at all to my liking. I like things clean, simple, straightforward.(Not as simple as Chetan Bhagat though!) Basically, I have too many judgement criteria! Surprisingly, over the past few months, I have come across some really impressive books by Indian authors. I figured, if I can write posts to criticize these guys, I can also write posts to praise them, nuh? Makes sense. So, here we go:
The Music Room by Namita Devidayal: Are you one of those people who carries around this guilt on your head for not paying attention in music class when you were a kid? I am! The after-school music class was spent in utter tense moments, with random thoughts like, "What will my friends say? I skipped the Pithoo game for THIS!!" Shuddering, terrified, my Thalam would go all screwed up at times! Nine years after I stopped learning music, I often feel the urge to go back in time and kick my younger self. If only I had known! Namita Devidayal's book is a masterpiece read for all music buffoons like me, and for anyone who has any interest in music at all. The book is an absorbing memoir of a music lover, the Jaipur Gharana through the eye of a maestro and a walk through the history of Hindustani music, littered with the most interesting anecdotes. Recommended read! I must say, if all Indian authors wrote about the good Indian things, who wouldn't like them? :P
Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar: A brilliant piece of "Indian" fiction, with extreme emphasis on the word Indian! This man is a master story teller. Hang on tight, as he leads you through the dark intimate world of the very lovable Maharaj Kumar, the less known husband of Saint Meerabai. The book is a revelation about the life and times of the early sixteenth century Mewar prince, who asks a simple question, "What does it feel like to have your spouse wedded to a God?" In a roller coaster ride of emotions, you travel with the Maharaj as he fights his biggest enemy, his wife's lover, Lord Krishna, his enemies inside the house and his enemies outside the house! I'll give your money back, if you don't fall in love with the Maharaj!
Not only is the story sheer brilliance, but the author takes you to an era when India was the Golden Bird, an era which boasts of magnificence! In all it's glory, it was the India that lured foreigners to herself!
Johny Gone Down by Karan Bajaj: I picked up this book out of sheer curiosity caused by the name! And besides, the price was very alluring! I must confess, I was enthralled from Page 1. This book is a page turner about Nikhil Arya, an Ivy League Scholar, now 40 and on the verge of ending his life in a mad game. His life was a medley, a series of twists and turns, all thanks to a small innocent vacation on the Convocation Day. From a military regime prisoner in Cambodia, to a Vipassana monk, a mafia don to master programmer, Nikhil Arya has done it all, till he lands in his homeland and becomes a part of a deadly game. My reasons for liking the book are simple: Despite all that happens, the author has treated the story with such optimism, it is almost an inspiration. "Almost" because fairy tales never come true! But it is touching nonetheless.
Dork, The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese by Sidin Vadukut:I have been a fan of Sidin's humour for about as long as I remember using the Internet to browse through blogs. This guy has always cracked me up, whether in his Whatay blog, his Mint articles or his Twitter one-liners! So, no surprise that when his book was released, just two days later, I was at Crosswords, footing the bill for my copy. Is it worth reading? Most definitely, yes! 200 pages filled with office humour, taking potshots at characters eerily similar to your manager and top management, vending machines and photocopiers can never be disappointing. The book is a diary entry of Robin Verghese, a naive but talented young MBA graduate, just entering the Corporate world and learning the hard way about love, life and a lot more! Blunders, accidents, tragic love stories, it has all the Masala you want from an un-putdownable book! Go buy! ;)
For someone who judges Chetan Bhagat for his pathetic English and Kiran Desai for her complicated writing style, I think I did an impressive job, finally managing to find good Indian authors. That said, I must say, it is quite disappointing the way most Indian authors find stories from the abject poverty and wretched living styles of a section of the Indian population, a section which they haven't interacted with, and never will. I genuinely feel authors like Kiran Nagarkar and Namita Devidayal should be the pillars of Indian literati, guiding young people to write more about the India that makes us proud, not the India that makes us shudder! Of course, then you have to make peace with the fact that you won't get a Booker! ;)
It's 4:45. I managed to stay awake! Yippeeee!
What books have you been reading? Any reccos?