Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Friend Sancho

Author: Amit Varma;
Genre: Indian Fiction;
Pages: 220;
Publisher: Hachette India
Rating: 4.5/5;

I've been long following Amit Varma's widely read popular blog - India Uncut and I absolutely love his writings. A journalist turned novelist and blogger, Amit Varma published his debut novel 'My Friend Sancho' in May 2009. There was no way I was going to miss reading this one. Sancho which was long listed for the Man Booker Asian Prize, was definitely an engaging read..

I find Amit Varma's writing style to be extremely bold, candid, breezy, unique and entertaining. The book doesnt aspire to be a work of serious literature, but it's significantly above the ones like "One Night at the Call Center" (Chetan Bhagat) or "Keep off the Grass"(Karan Bajaj). In fact I wouldn't put these 3 books in the same category, though they are intended to be mass market fiction. The best part about Sancho is that it's not made of the usual cliches, stale humor or predictable silliness. It's different...It's unique...I have probably never come across any book which has so many swear words and dark sarcasm and yet didn't seem to be out of place. However, there are a few instances in the book where Abir (the protoganist inthe book) refers to Amit's blog (India Uncut) which did come across as narcissism and as if those references were deliberately included there to market his blog. Other than that, I didn't find any flaws...

Synopsis: The book deals with a lot of sensitive topics like the ethics of journalism, cross-religious relationships, communalism, corruption and police encounters. Abir Ganguly (the protagonist in the book) is a crime reporter who is called by the police one night to cover an arrest. The last thing he expects is a shootout and a dead man. Did the cops screw up? He has no idea. Abir's boss wants him to write a story of the victim, for which Abir meets the victim's daughther Muneeza to gather more facts and details. Over the next few days, an unlikely friendship develops between the two and an interesting story unfolds...

The book is no Rushdie or Amitav Ghosh but its definitely worth a read! It's interesting, offers good insights & the humor makes you roll on the floor with laughter....Above all, it resonates with you and makes you keep turning the pages till the end!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 - The year that was..

When I made a list today of all the books I managed to read last year, I was damn thrilled! I started 2009 with a resolution to read at least 2 books a month and am glad to see that I've managed much more than that! I love reading and my passion has grown much stronger over the last 2 years and I hope to continue and read a lot more this year...

Thanks to all the publishers/authors for sending across a lot of review copies/ARC's all the way across the world and all my wonderful book blog community friends for leaving comments and suggesting great books to read :) Because of time constraints I couldn't post the reviews for the books I committed for December...will ensure they are up in the next 1 week..

Here's the complete list-
(Click on the titles to go to the book reviews)

1. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
3. Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts by Hussain.S.Zaidi
4. Almost Single by Advaita Kala
5. Keys to Living Joyfully by Sheri Kaye Hoff
6. A Flight of Pigeons by Ruskin Bond
7. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
8. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
9. Keep off the Grass by Karan Bajaj
10. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by Rashmi Bansal
11. Dont Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight by Rujuta Diwekar
12. Buddha Mind, Buddha Body by Thich Nhat Hanh
13. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
14. Princess by Jean Sasson
15. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
16. Everybody Wins by Gary Chapman
17. Dancing With Ana by Nicole Barker
18. The Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma
19. Brida by Paulo Coehlo
20. But then again I could be wrong by Jim Rising
21. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
22. To Sir with Love by E.R.Braithwaite
23. Two States by Chetan Bhagat
24. A Quiver Full of Arrows by Jeffery Archer
25. The Energy of Prayer by Thich Nhat Hanh (not reviewed)
26. 24x7 Marriage by Vijay Nagaswami (not reviewed)
27. Symbols of the Soul by Gina Lake (not reviewed)
28. 34 Bubblegums and Candies by Preeti Shenoy (not reviewed)