Kate le Vann might just deceive many readers by offering a contemporary romance read under the disguise of a chick-lit cover page of her novel “Things I know about Love”.
Livia, the protagonist of the story – 17 year old Brit girl, has been suffering with Leukemia and is on summer holiday in Princeton when she decides to file her romantic entanglements in a private blog to make observations about love (read Livia’s observation about love in red ink below). In her blog posts, she also reflects upon her past relationships as she tries to understand how to work out love. During the four week break in Princeton she falls for Adam, which becomes the theme of the second half of the book. Livia is a strong teenage girl while Adam is a super-cool boyfriend.
1. People don't always tell you the truth about how they feel
2. Nothing that happens between two people is guaranteed to be private
3. I don't know if you ever get over having your heart broken
The author tells the story via blog posts of Livia and Adam – an out of box stuff. One might take some time to adjust to the format of the book and to the language of the book (words like blimey, sussed, woozy, yowza etc might seem strange to many). The pace of the story is quick but the story has flashes of thought provoking content and hence I am tempted to categorize the novel in the contemporary romance genre rather than in the young adult genre. The quick pace of the story often does not allow reader to connect with the emotions of the characters. The author should have invested a tad more in evolving the characters and emotions.
The story ends abruptly and is heartbreaking. Though a quick read (167 page book which one can easily read in one sitting), it is not completely a light-read as the themes of young love and loss speak to the reader’s heart.
“Ashwin Sanghvi” in his second novel “Chankya’s Chant” has offered his reader two fictional accounts of king-making, which are set in eras, separated by nearly two thousand five hundred years. A common thread of Machiavellian thinking (ends justify the means) runs through the juxtaposed stories in which the protagonist of the stories (Chankya in the older one and Pandit Gangasagar in the modern story) pull off wicked strategies to install their protégés in the corridor of power.
The protagonists are portrayed as very determined, omniscient & omnipotent. The events in the stories always sway in the favor of the protagonist – which as per me is the downside of the story. The machinations of the two king-makers finally fructify with Chandragupta being coroneted as king of old Bharat while Chandini ends up taking oath as Prime Minister of India. The plots give the reader a peep into corruptive and divisive politics of India, which is akin to the greed and venality of ancient Bharat. Some of the political turn of events presented in the story seems to inspired by past and current political events & environment of India. A politically literate Indian reader can easily relate these events of the story with the real events of today’s politics.
Ashwin has deftly combined his ability of story telling with his passion for history and mythology. The work feels to be well researched. The turn of events in the two plots is broadly similar and hence the reader might feel the story in the modern day to be slightly less intriguing than the older story. The author has peppered the book with quotes borrowed from television series Yes Minister & Yes Prime Minster and from famous personalities like Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Franklin, Napolean Bonaparte etc, which made reading more interesting for me.
The author has deviated from the common storyline of the neo-literature of India (campus stories, tragedy stories about love, urban life stories and office politics stories) by foraying into writing a historical fictional and will give the audience of the neo-Indian Literature genre a much needed change. The language of the book is easily comprehendible and the plots will keep the reader riveted for majority of the time and is a light read.
One must not read the book for educative purpose but for entertainment. For the confluence of mythology, history and fictional story-telling in his work, I award Sanghvi a 3.5 out of 5 rating for “Chankya’s Chant”. You can read the sample chapter of the book here.
P.S: By publishing the book, Westland publishers seem to have hit the nail on the head this time as well – “Chankya’s Chant” has sold more than 50000 copies within 7 months of its launch. Westland publishers have published many recent best sellers like “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish by Rashmi Bansal”, “Don’t Loose Your Mind, Loose Your Weight –Rujuta Diwekar”.
Bookshops and coffee shops have been my favorite hangout places in the last few years. Little did I realize that the section devoted to the Indian authors in the book shop and the readership of these books has increased over the last few years. As has the airtime and following of the new short format of the cricket Twenty-Twenty (read Indian Premiere League, IPL). This blog aims to draw parallels between the neo-Indian literature (referred to as Aam Janata Writers) and T-20 format of the cricket on some major themes.
Success Mantra: “Short, Light and Cheap” are the success pillars of the books by the new breed of writers and of the new cricket format. The books are short and meant for light read (generally less than 250 pages), written in plain language and priced around 100 INR. Similarly the new format of cricket offers an entertainment window of 3 hours (short), peppered with hosts who speak plain English (light ascricket jargons are kept minimal) and comes at a cheap price (ticket price).
Promotion and Marketing: The marketing and promotion of the two products has contributed to their success as much as their content has. The below two paragraphs gives a peep into the marketing tactics of these products:
– The posse of new writers has tested new channels to market and sell their books. YouTube has been used to stream trailers of the book, social media channels like facebook, twitter has been used to engage with the readers directly; free samples of the book are distributed to create buzz. The neo-books are easily spotted in most of the households in towns and cities of the country.
– IPL has created buzz by bringing glamour, money and entertainment together to the gentleman’s game. IPL has revolutionized the way cricket has been marketed to the mass and has been made it a household discussion topic.
Exclusive Audience: Both the products have managed to create exclusive following for themselves.
– The readers of the neo-writers want to hear stories about themselves – story on urban office life, a call center, a love tragedy, an affair across religion. The new audience likes to read in language easy to comprehend unlike the classical way of story telling done by literary heavy-weights like Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie etc.
– IPL similarly has created a fan following which views cricket not as sport but as a medium of entertainment (recall your wife/girlfriend watching and discussing IPL games with you) as against the audience of test matches who vet their appetite to watch classic cricketing shots.
The success of the two has been astonishing but will the two new formats consume the other forms? I think Indian audience has room for both and appreciates variety. While the two forms will maintain their exclusive audience but the audience of both the forms will gain the most.
P.S: This blog has been inspired by the recent cover story of Outlook July 18 Edition – The New Aam Janata Writers. K.I.S.S in the title of the blog is the abbreviated form of Keep it Short and Simple.
“Exodus” is a novel built around numerous passionate attempts by Jewish zealots to establish a homeland for themselves – “Israel”. The title “Exodus” refers to the movement/immigration of Jewish community across the world to “Israel”
Leon Uris has been able to bring out the travesty faced by the Jewish community during the World War II and also offers insights into political stage during the era. The author has also spent considerable time in describing the concepts of Kibbutz (Collective farms of Jewish Community) and formation of Haganah (self defense army of Jewish community) which are indicative of the immense research work put behind the novel.
The story revolves around a few characters like Ari, Kitty, Karen and Dov. The characters of the story are quiet serious and is in line with the seriousness of the subject of the story. Leon has successfully tied the determination of these characters to establish Jewish nation with their past lives, which enables the reader to empathize with the mindset of the characters.
The story never deviates from the underlying theme of the story “Creation of Israel”; moreover the last hundred pages of the novel only describe the fighting, killing, murder and victory, which can be drab at times to the reader.
The language is simple and is easy to read. I will recommend the novel to serious readers only, especially ones interested in learning the story of Israel and the state of Jewish Community during World War II. For the light readers, the movie “Exodus” based on the novel is a good alternative. The novel is an excellent work of bringing together fiction and real events of the past and hence I award a rating of 3.5 on a scale of 5.
P.S: If you are interested in learning about state of Jewish Community and the travesty that befell them during World War II, “Diary of a Young Girl” is highly recommended.
“Romance with Chaos” by “Nishant Kaushik” is a story of young professional who finds his job as one without challenges & recognition and is in constant fight to find peace in his chaotic life. Life of Nakul, the protagonist of the novel, mirrors life of any other young professional in the corporate sphere who struggles with harsh realities of job and aims to identify an “X-Factor” in their life.
The author has used random events of Nakul’s life like betrayal by a colleague at workplace, breakup with girl friend, meeting with a co-passenger in a flight and coming across a few random sketches drawn by an acquaintance to shape the story.
The plot seems to be partly inspired by the experience of the author in the corporate and therefore many young professionals can find a good connect with the story. Description of Nakul’s relationship with Kavya has Nishant’s humorous touch and forms the most interesting part of the story for me. Reader might feel the characters of the story to be stereotyped as the characters might resemble many real personalities in an urban readers’ life. The book misses detailed descriptions of settings and characters, which seems to be a typical trait of the books of this genre.
The book as in the case of many Indian fiction books is a recommend for short reads and might not vet the appetite of true bibliophiles. Overall, a 3 out of 5 to Nishant for the piece.
“Two States” by “Chetan Bhagat” is a love story of individuals from two different states of India, who fall in love with each other in their campus life at IIM Ahmadabad and post the campus life work towards convincing their families, revolting against inter community marriage of their children. Female protagonist Ananya, unlike typical south Indian girl is characterised as a smart, intelligent and extrovert female while the male protagonist Krish, an intelligent IITian from Delhi is presented as a whizkid.
The book differs from the other campus stories in two dimensions: a) A larger portion of the book is devoted to post campus life of the protagonists of the novel unlike campus stories which are purely devoted to the campus b) Secondly and majorly, the book delves on slightly more serious subjectof “commitment and marriage” rather on the present day buzzword of numerous other campus stories “love & fun”. The author should be commended for his ability to present a very serious subject of inter-community marriage in his style of humour and fun and hence the book becomes a light read. The story has patches of gloom interspersed with happiness surrounding the small victories of the couple in events that helped them convince their families.
The book owing to its presentation style can be categorized in the genre of humorous writing rather than in the romantic novels. It is recommended as a light read and hence attracts a lot of young audience. From the perspective of a mature reader, I expect Chetan Bhagat to graduate to higher levels of writing and present to its reader a slightly more serious work.
“If God was a Banker” by “Ravi Subramanian” similar to my recent readings “Watchout We are MBA” and “Two States” also comes from the league of authors who are member of alumni clubs of premiere B-Schools of India. The story is of two bankers of New York International Bank (NYIB) who started their career together post their MBA from IIMs. The story majorly revolves around five characters viz Sundeep, an arrogant and overconfident graduate from IIM Ahmadabad; Swami, a modest and honest chap from IIM Bangalore, Kalpana a campus recruit for NYIB who goes on to marry Swami; Aditya, the first boss of Swami, Sundeep and Kalpana; Natasha, secretary of Aditya whom Sundeep gets married to.
The story is a narration of career progression of Swami and Sundeep in the bank. Though both started off from the same point, the paths charted by each of them differed largely. Sundeep is presented as a result oriented professional for whom result mattered the most not the means. Sundeep in the race of making a good career falls in pray of Naresh which leads to his infidelity to wife Natasha and him becoming a Casanova, maintaining illicit relations with women colleagues of his bank. Association with Naresh aids Sundeep in making a faster career progression within NYIB which Sundeep returns with multiple and illegal repeat business of NYIB with Naresh.
While Swami, a modest IIM Bangalore graduate from middle class background is presented as a man with strong reputation and with integrity. Sundeep in his way up the ladder faults multiple times on moral and integrity fronts. The expose of his faults during an audit ends his banking career but the support of Aditya and Swami ensures no public reprimand for his deeds.
The story subtly brings out some of the corporate issues of the like Glass Ceiling, sexual encounters at work place etc. The story is slightly engrossing in nature and in some patches becomes slightly boring. The story sometimes seems to be inspired by Bollywood movies where an arrogant boss takes advantage of his women sub-ordinates belonging to middle class background. Well, it’s a 2.5 rating off 5.