Thursday, July 09, 2015

Nirupama Subramanian - Keep the Change

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Writing by Indian authors in English can be categorized into 3 broad types.

One is literary writing, where the subject is heavy, writing is excellent and the book is very edifying in all respects.  Writings of authors like Anita Nair, Shinie Antony, Cyrus Mistry, and several other writers who are settled abroad, like Devkaruni, Vikram Seth, and Amitav Ghosh fall into this category.

In the second category come a lot of good writers whose subject matter is something frothy and peppy, writing is pretty good, usually full of Indian-English, catering to a discerning audience who want a well-written book, but do  not want to be weighed down by a heavy subject.  Luckily, there are quite a few contenders for this slot. Madhulikka Liddle, Anuja Chauhan, Vani, Rupa Gulab, Kiran Manral, Andaleeb Wajid spring to my mind instantly.  I am sure that are more, may their tribe increase.

Lastly, there are many many writers whose writing is terrible and subject matter headache-inducing. The only thing in their favor is that they have a very good marketing plan.  Discerning readers marvel at their success and the readers who actually do read such books.

Keep the change belongs to the happy second category. It is well written and well plotted.

Damyanthi Balachandran has lived all her life on Amman Kovil street in Chennai.  She has excelled academically and is a CA, now working for SSV and Sons as an accountant.  At home, she faces the anxiety of her mother who wants her married off to a well placed Tamil Brahmin boy.  She is happy in the simple life, spends her time reading books, and rather uncharacteristically, watching Sex and the City on HBO.

Her mother's efforts to get her married get to her eventually and she decides to leave home.  She gets a job with First Global Bank and moves to Mumbai.  Damyanthi's first brush with the Corporate World is not very good.  Luckily, her colleague, and a fresh recruit like her, Jimmy, becomes a chum.  Together they move around the bank like flotsam and try to find their moorings.

Damyanthi's mother has new anxieties now.  She wants to make sure her daughter does not stray from the path of  "virtue".  Damyanthi would like to be a little more adventurous but finds herself holding back at key moments.

The book follows Damyanthi's journey into a new world and how she finds her feet.

The book is written, interestingly, in the epistolary fashion.  Damyanthi writes to Vic, short for Victoria, a friend who is very rich and settled abroad.  Vic has a very interesting life, unlike Damyanti.  There are times when we wonder if Vic is really Damyanthi's alter ego.

Nirupama Subramanian is obviously a very interesting author to follow.  Her second book, Intermission, is supposed to be very different from the first.  It should be an interesting book to read as well.


Madhulika liddle said...

Ava, you have made my day! Thank you for the endorsement. :-)

This sounds like a good, frothy book. The sort of thing one would pick up if one didn't want to tax one's mind and heart too much.

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