Monthly Archives: January 2013

Indian Quills Reading Challenge

I have decided to participate in this challenge as I love to read Indian writing. I think this will be a great opportunity to discover more Indian writers and also spread the word about my favourite Indian writers. I think about one book a month so 12 books will be my target for this challenge.

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Em & The Big Hoom

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto is the book I have been telling everyone I meet to read. I am not sure how to describe what the book is about because to condense this story into 2-3 lines feels impossible. And saying that it is a story of the narrator and his family, mainly his mom who is a manic-depressive is just not enough even though I have done it now.

From the first page, I knew I made the right decision in buying it because I knew I will read it many times. If for nothing else, then for the writing. Every sentence has been chiseled and carved to perfection. And if I were the kind of person to underline memorable quotes, this book would have pencil marks all over it.

Jerry Pinto brings the characters alive. Every time I opened the book I entered the 1 BHK in Mahim where this family lives. I watched as Em slashed her wrists, I recognized the helplessness the narrator felt when there is nothing he could do while his mother suffered; the determination of the kids to maintain a veneer of normalcy in front of anyone who is not part of the family; the isolation they felt despite a steady stream of well-wishers. This book communicated all of these emotions without self-pity. The matter of fact tone and the emotional restraint in the book are what made this story so real and moving. By the end of the book I was in tears.

Despite all of the charged emotional content, not once does the story devolve into melodrama. In fact there were plenty of laugh out loud moments.The author does a marvelous job of maintaining that balance between pain & humor that comes instinctively to us in times of crisis. And he does it without it becoming morbid or cynical.

Anyone who has ever dealt with the sickness and death of a loved one will relate to some aspect of this story. I think everyone should read this book.

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The Bankster

The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian is a corporate thriller based in Greater Boston Global bank.  Karan Panjabi, the hero from Mr. Subramanian’s previous book “If God was a Banker” is compelled to investigate the back to back deaths of 3 employees   of the bank, his ex-employer. The investigation reveals that the employees were murdered to cover up a shocking conspiracy within the bank.

This is my first Ravi Subramanian book and I was intrigued by the plot. And the first few pages of the book do not disappoint. A CIA operative delivering firearms to keep a proxy war going and receiving diamonds as payment, the death of a man from Madras due to nuclear exposure in Russia. All of it set me up to expect a Frederick Forsythe style intricate thriller with a big reveal at the end and the coming together of all the seemingly disparate story lines. But I was disappointed at the end. The politics of a bank, the dishonesty of senior managers like the heads of retail banking and human resources was well written and gave this story meat. Though I felt the whole protest against the nuclear power plant did not add much to the whole story and the author probably used it as gap filler.

This would have been a great read if the climax wasn’t completely botched. The author stretched the reveal for so long that by the time it happened I lost interest. Some of the efforts to prolong the suspense were plain irritating. For example, how Karan Panjabi discovered a certain piece of evidence is explained at least twice and in some cases thrice, the reactions and impatience of characters which is a common tool used to lengthen the suspense was used too liberally for my liking.  I noticed certain plot holes too, which I won’t mention in this review to avoid spoilers.

Another criticism I have is that Karan Panjabi enters the picture after more than half the story is over. So for most of the book there is no protagonist. This would not have been a problem if the other characters were well developed. But not a single character including Karan Panjabi later managed to evoke any emotional response. I did not feel any sympathy, hatred or intrigue for any of the characters.

And lastly I felt that the writing though not bad in terms of the grammar did not quite flow. There were many times when it felt forced and clumsy,  like when you listen to a speech given by someone with stage fright. I would say this is an example of an excellent story idea executed not quite so excellently.  It is an airplane book. You read it if you have way too much time on your hands and not many reading options available.

This review is a part of the <ahref="http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/05/04/indian-bloggers-book-reviews" target="_blank" > Book Reviews Program </a> at  <a href="http://www.blogadda.com">BlogAdda.com </a>. Participate now to get free books!

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