Three Times Loser by Akash Verma, Pages - 264, 100 Rupees. Three Times Loser is a story that begins slowly, but once it gains momentum, the pages continue to turn on their own. Among the things that make the book racy are: its treatment of relationships, the clear outline of various characters and the backdrop of music that covertly flows with the story line – most songs are bound to bring back memories for an entire generation that has grown up on them. The book is divided into three parts, three different romantic associations from divergent phases of the protagonist’s life, which eventually converge into a heart-wrenching conclusion. Though the end wasn’t particularly unexpected (I wouldn’t wish to dwell much on it, lest the cat skips out of the bag), the narration manages to hold the reader’s attention till the very last page. For some the book might be vaguely reminiscent of the Bollywood movie - Bachna Ae Haseeno – but any such resemblance in only superficial and the book does manages to retain its differentiation. At 100 rupees and with 260 odd well-written pages, it is most definitely a value buy. Recommended, especially for those who have spent some part of their lives in Agra, Lucknow or Delhi!
Title : Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding
Author Name : Bhavna Rai
Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding by Bhavna Rai, Pages – 288, Rs. 150;
A girl, sprawled in the lawn of a five star hotel, is fighting to retain her consciousness – she has been shot, perhaps by someone who she shared a romantic past with. The opening scene, after arousing sufficient curiosity, dissolves into an array of seemingly unrelated incidents and introduction of arbitrary characters. The author then proceeds to link the pieces together, oscillating back and forth in time and locale, to weave together a plot that manages to hold the reader's interest till the very last page – a commendable feat for a debut novel.
The book, based in the backdrop of the IT/ BPO industry, traces the story of five principal characters (Anand, Neel, Jenna, Tara and Suman) till their paths cross and they find themselves at the same hotel on a fateful evening that would cast a telling impression on each of their lives. The author has dealt with a range of subjects from the technicalities of outsourcing and the payments solution industry (an offshoot of her professional expertise perhaps) to golf and prenatal labor with remarkable dexterity. The characters are well defined and there are moments when the reader is compelled to echo their feelings and emotions. In fact in the end I did find myself feeling distraught for Jenna and wishing that she had been dealt a fairer hand by destiny.
However, the one thing that sets Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding apart from most books by Indian authors hitting the shelves lately is its language. The prose, though simplistic, is extremely polished and some lines (like 'if you alter the equation, you alter the outcome') tend to stick long after one has put the book down. The editing too is impeccable and you don’t have typographic errors or misplaced punctuations staring back at you like sore thorns.
Among the things that don't work for the story is the excessive two and fro jigging with the plot. So, on one page you are reading about Anand the successful entrepreneur delivering a lecture in a reputed institution and on the very next one he goes back to becoming a struggling young professional. This might have worked well for a linear storyline, but in a complex one like Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding it might just sow some seeds of confusion. Also, in some places the author seems to have got carried away by her need for detailing and hence slackening the pace of the story. For instance I didn’t quite see the need for reproducing the crew announcement in Hindi and then again in English before the plane lands.
Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding would rate a three on five for me and I would recommend it if you are bored with the la-la love stories and are looking for a different but breezy read.