I came back from Mumbai with a few must reads on my shelf. Before I hit the 3 huge cricket books I thought I’d finish the short ones first. ‘Marrying Anita’ by Anita Jain, ‘Q&A’ by Vikas Swarup and ‘My Friend Sancho’ by Amit Varma.
I’m not particular when it comes to books – I’ve no strict likings to a particular genre. If someone tells me it’s a good read, I’ll head for it right away. Having heard fair reviews of all the 3 books, I thought I’d buy them right away.
I started with ‘Marrying Anita’. An autobiographical novel by the author. It is a story of an Indian girl in her thirties, born and brought up in USA, who comes to the shores of her motherland in search of the perfect husband. I thought it might make an interesting read. Indian marriages are by far the best entertainment – they have all the drama, comedy, misery, tragedy packed in few days. No wonder movies around the subject of marriage are a huge hit! The book by itself was a big let down. I firmly believe a good book either has to have good plot or good characters, having none means that it is headed for disaster. But in recent times, where good marketing of a bad movie ensures that the production house breaks even, good marketing of an average book makes it a best-seller. Marrying Anita is more of the main protagonist’s sexual exploits with all the men she meets rather than any story or depth to the characters involved. Most men she meets are weak and I wonder how a woman can make the mistake of giving herself to the same sort of people time and again. I was bored half-way through the book and wondered where and when it would end. Will not recommend this one to spend your money on.
Amit Varma is an excellent blogger & journalist, and I do follow his blog India Uncut like most bloggers in the blogosphere do. He is sharp, witty, sarcastic, funny and at the same time very knowledgeable and intellectual. These very qualities come out in bits and pieces in his main protagonist ‘Abir Ganguly’ especially when the young journalist is talking to himself. But just like ‘Marrying Anita’, ‘My Friend Sancho’ lacks a solid plot. Just when you think the story is building up, it comes crashing down. Other than Abir no character is well-developed in the book, especially Abir’s love interest Muneeza. I did like the fact that Amit has kept the writing simple which makes for smooth reading. It’s good for a one time read and I do hope that his next books will make for more engrossing reading.
Finally, Q&A by Vikas Swarup makes for one hell of a gripping read. I’ve still not seen ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ since I wanted to read the book first. I try to read the books first before I watch the movie based on a book. No movie can do justice to the book and having read the book you just understand the plot and characters better! Of course the disappointment that the movie can never be as good as the book will always persist.
With every chapter Swarup raises the reader’s curiosity. Q & A is the kind of book where you don’t want a break and want to finish it at one go. So what did Ram Mohammad Thomas get as the next question, what happened in his life that he could answer this one. I’m not going to narrate the story as that would mean spoiling the reader’s interest in the book. But it sure tells you that life can be one hell of a quiz show and you need to be really lucky to get the questions that you happened to know the answers to. That’s what Ram tells his lawyer Smita.
Every chapter in the book deals with Ram’s life of eighteen years and it’s a mere coincidence and his luck that he gets those very questions to which he knows the answers to. Vikas Swarup narrates a story whose climax is unpredictable and that is what makes for an interesting book. Every chapter is a story in its own and it all takes an interesting turn at the end which the reader cannot guess. Go for it, this one is a must have and one you would want to read again and again.
Work schedules are hectic and hence more time will be needed to complete these relatively huge works of excellence but as and when the reading is completed , a review will be up on this blog.