Genre: Indian Fiction;
Publisher: Hachette India
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!