Book Review: Boomtown by Aditya Mukherjee

The review of the newly released debut novel Boomtown by Aditya Mukherjee is finally here! I wanted to read this book for namely two themes that I am always interested in- food and entrepreneurship.

Source: Boomtown: Facebook Fan Page
Source: Boomtown: Facebook Fan Page

About the author: Aditya Mukherjee is a recent graduate of IIM Bangalore and currently working as a strategy consultant in Delhi. He has studied computer science, economics, had a start up and been, very temporarily, a published cartoonist. Boomtown is his first published novel. Read more about him in an exclusive interview given to Books and a lot more.

Boomtown by Aditya Mukherjee is a book about JJ, Roy, Jaaved and Sheetal, young people who get running to start a chain of fusion restaurants. This is a story of these folks and the problems each of them face in accomplishing the same. Much of the book revolves around food and life in the Delhi region.

JJ is eccentric but an endearing character. The credit for successfully starting the venture ought to go to him, as he is the one who recognizes Jaaved’s potential and bring all of them together. The last chapter where he is the sole actor is emotional although very short. I thought it could have been better.

Jaaved never fails to surprise. As the plot develops, you realise that he is not your simple boy from Chandni Chowk. He is rebellious but controlled, a contradiction itself.

Roy is the archetypal Engineer who doesn’t know why he studied engineering, with archetypal parents who believe in white collar jobs and how only professions like engineering, doctor, MBA, etc can bring success and respectability for a person in society.

Sheetal is a brave single mother, who is bored of her job and begs to do something different. She appears confident but in the end, seems quite desperate for some happiness in her life. And starting this venture is exactly what she needs.

Although the plot is quite predictable, it is funny and a light, breezy read that does not fail to entertain. People in the Delhi Metro (that’s when I get the most time to read) stared at me when I would frequently smile or laugh a little bit too loudly, quite frequently, I might add.

This book is full of lovable characters, especially Dara and who walks in and out of the book repeatedly and JJ’s cousin who doesn’t seem to have enough clothes (or doesn’t seem to want to wear them, anyway). Shareef bhai has impeccable comic timing and you can’t help but love Saraiya, Sheetal’s mother. It is aptly named ‘Boomtown’ as it also silently pokes fun at hurried development in a city like Gurgaon. On the whole, it reminds you of how you need to follow your instincts, sometimes. It makes you think of that idea you always had for starting your own business but never quite got around to doing something about it.

Other details about the book:

Publisher Rupa Publications
Publication Year 2013 July
ISBN-13 9788129124074
ISBN-10 8129124076
Language English
Binding Paperback
Number of Pages 123 Pages
Book Type Novel

Note: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

Giveaway: Blood Red Sari by Ashok Banker

UPDATE: The giveaway has ended. Here’s the post declaring the winner.

It’s time for another giveaway ! This time, a NEW copy of the book Blood Red Sari by Ashok Banker is up for grabs ! Harper Collins India had kindly agreed to provide a copy to a lucky winner on this blog. 🙂

Book Cover
Book Cover

Blood Red Sari by Ashok Banker is an exciting book about three courageous women (and no, its not Chick Lit!). You can check out my review here.

Now, coming to the point, to win this book, you need to do TWO things, which are as below:

1. Leave a comment below with your name and email address. Please leave the email id which you regularly use, as I will be contacting you through this email id, if you win.

AND

2. Share this link on Facebook. Click here to share.

Please note that you need to fulfill BOTH of the above conditions to be eligible for the giveaway.

The Giveaway ends on 4th August, 2013 midnight. Also, only residents of India are eligible for participating in the giveaway.

Debut Author Interview #1: Aditya Mukherjee and Boomtown

This blog was started out of a deep love for books and reading, at a time when I was frustrated with a meaningless internship and lot of free time. Slowly, the website’s growing, as I try to balance this with my day job in Delhi, one which I happen to like as well.

My ultimate dream is to see this website become a one stop for book reviews and information about new, upcoming books, especially those written by Indian authors. Recently, I started a feature where I write about cool bookstores and book themed places to hangout in India and now, with this post, I start another feature where I write about debut Indian authors.

The first author to get featured is Aditya Mukherjee, whose first book ‘Boomtown’, published by Rupa Publications, was released by Dr Shashi Tharoor on July 15th, 2013.

Aditya Mukherjee is a recent graduate of IIM Bangalore and currently working as a strategy consultant in Delhi. He has studied computer science, economics, had a start up and been, very temporarily, a published cartoonist. Boomtown is his first published novel.

Aditya Mukherjee, Author of 'Boomtown
Aditya Mukherjee, Author of ‘Boomtown

The book ‘Boomtown’ is about four people from very different backgrounds coming together to start a restaurant. It starts when Jacob James (JJ), a young idle man from a rich family decides to change his ways, and stumbles upon Jaaved Khan, grandson to the owner of an iconic Old Delhi eatery who wants to make his own recipes. JJ pulls in his old friend, Karthik Roy, who’s just got fired from the engineering job he hates, and Sheetal, a feisty, single mom who works in the hotel industry.

 

Source: Boomtown: Facebook Fan Page
Source: Boomtown Facebook Fan Page

The book traces their adventure as they scramble from the alleys of Old Delhi to corporate offices of VCs in Gurgaon to the seedy dens of property brokers. However, the most difficult challenge of all is convincing Afzal Khan, Jaaved’s grandfather, who is hell bent on protecting his heritage and his traditional recipes.

Extremely busy with the launch of his first book ‘Boomtown’ and his current consulting job, I was lucky enough to get Aditya Mukherjee to answer a few questions about himself and his book.

Your first novel, ‘Boomtown’. is releasing soon. Are you excited?

I loved writing from the time I was a child – it’s really a childhood dream that’s coming true, so yes, it’s incredibly exciting and also a bit overwhelming.

I tried to make my first comic book when I was in Class 8. Started writing my ‘first book’ when I was in Class 9. Those were all abandoned.  I wrote a full-length novel in my first year of work after Bachelors, but it never got picked up. I finally started again 2 years back – in my 2nd year at IIM Bangalore on Boomtown.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book? Who do you think this book will appeal to?

Boomtown is about four very different people coming together to try and start a restaurant and their adventure in doing so. It is also about a meeting of opposites – about traditional culture meeting modern innovation, about people from different backgrounds in our new, great cities – and it’s about breezing past these differences because you’re chasing a dream. Because I think that happens- when people are chasing dreams they don’t care about small, useless things. I think what we as a nation need to do is chase a dream – it’ll solve all our problems.

What inspired you to write this book? Why do you feel you had to tell this story?

I was very sure I didn’t want to write a love story – there are too many of those. I knew I wanted to write a slice-of-life modern urban story as well. The challenge was that I didn’t want it to be literary, but I didn’t want it to be meaningless either. It had to be about an idea, or about one of the many transformations our country is undergoing. It had to be about India in some way, not just set there. I also wanted it to be a happy, fun book. Since I had experience with entrepreneurship myself, and it’s a dynamic, interesting topic, I decided to go with that.

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?

The parts to do with Jaaved. Jaaved is the grandson of the owner of an iconic Old Delhi eatery – something like Karim’s. But he is a dreamer and an innovator. He dreams up his own recipes, he creates new things. And he’s willing to chase after that. I’m a firm believer in the transcendental nature of that – of dreaming things up. It’s a beautiful feeling, and I hope I’ve been able to capture that.

Who is your favourite character in the book? Any inspiration from real life?

Well I had a start up of my own with friends – and I keep chasing pet projects all the time. Of course my start up was about something quite boring to most people – blackberry enterprise applications. So most of the book is not based on real life – but the characters, some of the situations are inspired by people I’ve met, things that have happened.

Tell us something about yourself. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and I currently work as a management consultant with Bain & Company in Delhi. I did my Bachelors from NTU, Singapore. I travelled a lot as a kid, new city every 2-3 years – so I’ve lived in Delhi, Lucknow, Bangalore, Manchester, Bangalore and a little bit in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Bit of a nomad, but looking to settle down now.

I used to read a lot, but nowadays I’m usually too busy – since my job is pretty hectic, and doing anything outside of it takes up most of my time. Just keeping some time for my loved ones is a fight! I’ll tell you what I don’t do – I don’t watch TV. It’s the only way I get any time.

Plans for the future, with respect to writing?

I’ve already finished a new manuscript co-written with my brother. It explores the concept of a vigilante that has been made famous through comics like Batman, and tries to put a more realistic spin on it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I think any content needs to have two aspects – something that makes it fit in, and something that makes it stand out. You have to straddle both of those – if you veer too deep towards one, it’s probably going to be difficult for you. For example, if you write something so out there that nobody can relate to it, you’ll find a lot of opposition to it. If you write something that everyone knows/ has seen you’re wasting your time. That’s the hard part – that’s what needs thought.

This is all about Aditya Mukherjee and Boomtown as of now. A review of Boomtown shall soon follow, when I get my hands on the book. 😛 (Update: Check out the review here.)

Meanwhile, you can check out the book on Amazon IndiaFlipkart. 🙂

Blood Red Sari by Ashok Banker

(Update: Giveaway of this book is currently being hosted on this website. Do check it out here.)

iam redit et

(Translation: Now returns Justice)

-Virgil

This is how the book Blood Red Sari by Ashok Banker starts, being the first in the Kali Rising series. What follows is a power packed story of tremendously courageous women who fight to save themselves from an unknown villain.

Book Cover
Book Cover

I read many good reviews of the book and I couldn’t believe my luck when Amazon India had a free e-book download offer soon after. So, download, I did! And after that I had to finish it as soon as I could!

To give a brief introduction about the book, it’s a story of four women (technically, three since I am assuming the fourth one will come into the picture in the book next in the series) whose lives change when they receive a mysterious parcel containing documents that they can’t make head or tail of, at first. Their lives change when they are pursued because of the documents that threaten to damn a powerful business entity involved in trafficking of humans through NGOs.

Some good quotes from the book:

“…because you didn’t simply replace one social system or religion with another, you just layered it on top of the old one, layer after layer after layer, until bits and parts of the older layers peeked out through the new and it all made up the whole.”

“Come on, bitch. Man up,’ she said, then snorted a burst of laughter, spraying mucus from her running nose. Her eyes and nose and throat were all running because of the pain and because she was literally weeping with the pain. She had laughed because of the incongruity of her being a woman telling herself to ‘man’ up. ‘Woman up, bitch,’ she corrected herself. That sounded better. Toughness wasn’t an exclusive male privilege.

 If women can have babies without epidurals, I can fucking walk on a broken foot.”

On the whole, I really liked this book. I am looking forward to reading more books in the series. This also encourages me to check out more books by Ashok Banker. For a change, it’s a book by an Indian author which is not about women having stereotypical roles or professions.

Book Nook #1: Spell & Bound Bookshop & Cafe, New Delhi

“In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro.”
(Everywhere I have sought peace and not found it, except in a corner with a book.)

There are always places that make you feel comfortable and cozy, enough to encourage a person to read and quietly reflect upon myriad things in life. On a chance, it may lead to something special, with the person writing a line or two of verse, in honor of life and it’s various machinations.

One such place is the Spell & Bound Bookshop & Cafe in New Delhi. I stumbled on to this place when I was visiting the IIT Delhi Campus for work, last week. It’s a small book store and cafe in the market opposite the IIT Campus Main Gate.

Here are some pictures:

The store has books of every genre and recommendations on every shelf. Many recommendations were the same as ones I have read (or reviewed on this website) and liked. The food and beverages are also not very expensive. The beverages are served in very cute bottles and the food tastes quite nice. On the whole, it’s a quiet place where one can go and sit in a corner, check out a lot of books, read some and leave with a nice, satisfied feeling in the stomach.

Check it out sometime, if you are somewhere near the IIT campus. Or if you’ve gone there sometime, do leave a comment with your experience. 🙂

Also, I am starting a new feature called ‘Book Nook’, where I feature a particularly nice book store or  book cafe, periodically. If you’re a regular visitor at some really cool places, do send in your recommendations and they shall get featured on this website. 🙂