I don’t know where to begin with this one. Sigh.
It started with the pavement, I suppose. I saw a small cardboard sign, advertising books for Rs. 50/- a pop. I am chronically incapable of not buying books, so of course I promptly knelt down to rifle through the pile before me.
I found a couple I thought I would like, and then I saw the second book in the Dork trilogy [not this one]. The cover is catchy, and I have previously been biased against Indian authors, so in order to be less of a snob, I picked it up. The vendor found the first novel, so I figured it was ordained.
Dear lord. What a mistake.
Author: Sidin Vadukut
Story: We meet Robin “Einstein” Varghese on the first day of placement at his management college. He is supremely confident and convinced that he will get an offer from a prestigious organisation. His inner monologue displays a great deal of distaste for some of his fellow students, especially if it appears that their lives do not revolve around him.
He does get a job, and moves to Mumbai, after a short prelude back home in Kerala. The rest of the story takes place in Mumbai, at his new company, where he is a business analyst in a dog-eat-dog industry. Thrown in for personal interest, I presume, are his travails with his roommates, coworkers, and love interest.
Writing: I have read some of Sidin’s columns and tweets, and the man is undoubtedly hilarious. Perhaps, at this point, things now appear to be funny because he is the one saying them, rather than them being inherently funny. I don’t know. But the book? Oh my.
The book is laid out in diary entries, so there is an understandably heavy navel-gazing aspect to them. Yes, the one-dimensional opinion of the protagonist is personal and skewed in his own favour. All of this is completely relevant, considering the format. But ultimately, Robin Varghese is a detestable little toerag, with undeniable delusions of self-importance and grandeur, and not a shred of integrity.
The only authentic-sounding parts of this book where were the Malayali-ness of the character came through. It sounded effortless and natural, unlike just about everything else.
In my opinion, the author’s ability to write pithy, witty one-liners that make one chuckle is wholly absent in this soulless story.
Characters: Utterly detestable characters. Not a single one has a redeeming quality of any kind. There is the protagonist of course, and then a slew of money-grubbing, ass-kissing, back-stabbing, and dishonest people strewn liberally in the narrative.
Take Varghese for example: he cannot be honest in ANY aspect of his life: work, love life, apartment, parents, client, etc. He is so unlikeable that he hasn’t managed to make a single friend. His relationship is based on deception. There is not a single nice thought in his head that is not self-serving in some way.
Pace: The single redeeming factor of this book is that it is FAST. There is no rest period at all, and the story moves quickly from scene to scene. Conversely, this also has the effect of leaving certain characters hanging, and storylines unfinished. However, by the quarter mark, I was past caring about any of it.
Conclusion: This book was touted as a “satirical dig at the consulting industry”. It may well be that, but it is a bleak view of things indeed. I have no connection with the consulting industry whatsoever, but I do think they do serve some purpose. I don’t know; it is debatable.
I already have the second instalment, so I’m going to end up reading this trilogy out of sheer completionist tendencies. I am not looking forward to it at all.