Daily Archives: December 16, 2010

With or Without You by Partha Sarathi Basu

I have always enjoyed the Penguin “Metro Reads” series. They are fast paced, racy and short. They get over even before you have started reading them and at some level they do not intellectualize which I love in books at times. It started with “Dreams in Prussian Blue” to “Love Over Coffee” and now “With Or Without you” by Partha Sarathi Basu. Penguin’s Metro Reads have been great till now for me and here goes another review…

The corporate world is brutal and we are all aware of it. From eons and centuries things have not been easy when it boils down to a corporate setting. Every corporate executive is ruled by goals – personal, professional and organizational. The vicious tactics often used to achieve them lie hidden behind a facade of bonhomie and gentility.

“With or Without You” by Partha Sarathi Basu rips apart the veils to reveal the murky underbelly of corporate life. You move through raw ambition, convenient suspension of integrity, deceit, smear campaigns as executives relentlessly march towards their constantly changing goals. Woven into the fabric of a fast paced story, the well crafted characters are instantly identifiable with people from real life.

What is the story about though?

It is about blinding politics in an office environment and how things, situations and words have the capacity to go awry and change people. It is about how people are compromising their values because of that single promotion that superficially means so much and yet is so elusive till you let go of something cherished and loved.

Aarav the protagonist of the book will not stop at anything. He will do anything to get to the top (supposedly tagged in every organization I have ever worked with). He will betray his friends who are also his colleagues. He will turn the one without scruples. He will cheat on his wife with the foxy Sonali, who is only but using him. Aarav does things that will make you cringe – for instance leaving his wife alone in the middle of a romantic trip to London, without any regrets – and all for what? To get to the top.

There are elements in the book that keep you glued to the book – for instance what is Sonali up to? What does she want from Aarav? And that is not known till the end of the book. The other characters like Raika and Rishav not only add to the story but also further propel it. What I personally loved about the book was that I could so relate to it at every level – the politics at work to the emotions one goes through to the games that you don’t want to play and yet at some level we all do.

For those with years in industry, the story-line is like déjà vu. For the newcomers, it is an eye-opener to the real world  – one that is never taught in B Schools.

You can also visit the author’s website on: www.parthasarathibasu.com

With or Without You; Basu, Partha Sarathi; Penguin India; Metro Reads; Rs. 150; Available from Flipkart

An Interview with Esther David

So after reading The Man with the Enormous Wings, I had this need to connect with the writer. To ask her questions. To know a little more about the book and her thoughts. Here it is…in the form of this interview!

What gave way to the idea of writing, “The Man with the Enormous Wings”?

During the riots of 2002, my publishers were suggesting that I write a novel and weave it around the earthquake and riots. But, I was so traumatized by the communal riots of 2002,  that I could not. All, I wrote was a poem and a short story, which is used as the last chapter of my novel The Man With Enormous Wings. Then, I did sign a contract to write The Man with Enormous Wings, but it took me ten years to give form to the novel, by concentrating on specific incidents, and people. During this period, I saw how Mahatma Gandhi was forgotten in Gujarat. I thought, he would be the perfect character like Alice in Wonderland, as he grows wings, changes size and keeps on falling between warring groups of people. So, I made him the central character of my novel.

Esther as a person….

Author – Novelist – Storyteller. Always an insider, who is an outsider. Armchair naturalist, armchair anthropologist, armchair artist, armchair art critic.

Esther as a writer…

An artistic dreamer. She has to work very hard to give form to her novels. Has to rewrite many times, till she gets the poetic imagery she wants to create in her work. 

Did you ever feel that you cannot write this book because of the surge of emotions? I for one could not read it at length because it stirred so many feelings in me.

2002 happened around my house. I was witness to many events. It was too close. I could not write. I was also frightened. I am still frightened that it can happen again, so I so long to write.

Esther’s favourite books

The Strange Case of Billy Biswas by Arun Joshi. A thousand years of Solitude – by Gabriel Garcias Marquez. Shame – by Salman Rushdie. Aphrodite – by Isabelle Allende

Esther’s favourite writers…

Gabriel Garcias Marquez, Salman Rushdie, Isabelle Allende, Toni Morrison, Amos Oz.

If you had to describe, “The Man with the Enormous Wings” in one word, what would it be and why?

Unwanted. In the present scenario of Gujarat with its Vibrant Gujarat and ghettoization between communities, there is no place for Mahatma Gandhi and his ideology, meaning The Man With Enormous Wings.

 I loved that the book ended with a lot of hope and optimism. What do you think about it? Will it be like this?

I am just consoling myself, because, most people have forgotten 2002, and, as we say in the Bible – if we forget, it will happen again.

 Your views on today’s literary world…

It gives a writer a wide scope to be read and become known and publishers help in the growth of writers, as long as authors are willing to work hard. Yet, the media needs to focus more on writers who live in India, than expatriate Indian born writers.  

That was this. You can read the review of “The Man with the Enormous Wings” here.

The Man with Enormous Wings; David, Esther; Penguin India; Rs. 199.