Sunday, February 16, 2014

Beaten By Bhagath by S. V. Divvaakar - A Review

"In a sense, fiction authors are like vegetables. People have their preferences, without the need to rationalise or to justify why they like one vegetable more than the other, or even why they hate some vegetables." - S. V. Divvaakar, Beaten by Bhagath (Page 164)

I am getting back into the book review groove after a considerable hiatus. I am rusty, but I hope not to the
extent that writing my thoughts becomes difficult. The book which marks my return in to the world of book bloggers is an interesting read titled 'Beaten By Bhagath', the second novel of S. V. Divvaakar. Upon reading this book I realized that Mr. Divvaakar touched a raw connect with me somewhere. Last week, I got down with a friend to write a poem about the art of writing a poem. The author of the book being discussed here has done much the same - he wrote a book about the process of writing a book, and the uphill, back-breaking journey that lies beyond. Even before I begin commenting and describing my experiences with this book, I must admit, I have taken my lessons - locked them away in the warning box which I will open again when I have to wade through the world of publishers and readers.

This is the book with the easiest synopsis. As I said earlier, it is a book about writing a book. It, however, is not restricted to that premise. There are branches to this grand framework, all, in some way or the other relating to the psyche of an aspiring writer, and giving the readers a stark perspective into what harsh realities await him when gets out to put his baby, the product of his sleepless nights out in the world, in the hands of a reader. An executive in a big corporate entity, our protagonist, BB, could have easily led a demanding, yet snug existence, had his boss not praised his writing skills one day. This appreciation led him to the world of glittering dreams about becoming a famous, widely read and revered author, much like K-10 - who is the fictionalized monolith dominating the world of popular fiction in this book. Easy to note that Mr. Divvaakar here has played with nomenclatures to arrive at a pun closing in on one author I enjoy reading - Chetan Bhagath. The writer traces his journey back to the hostel days where K-10 and BB studied together, and then, for the major and more important part, the story discusses, in a light tone, of what happens after a book is written.

There are struggles associated with being an author. The writer, while writing a book, is in flux - much the case with BB - traversing through past inspirations, present aspirations and hopes for future acclaim all at the same time. By taking the example of a fictionalized hero, perhaps Divvaakar prints a quasi-autobiographical account and exposes the readers to the demands of the publishing industry. The process is hard - from having your manuscripts rejected to dealing with all kinds of eccentricities that the marketing of a book brings with itself. It, in fact, leads you precisely into the calculation of the humongous sums of money one needs to spend in order to earn a lot less from the direct sales of his book. The author also includes the social media aspect here, where 'likes' are bought and contests are run so as to get readers interested in the book. How much of that do we see going around these days? Well, check my Facebook home page someday and you would know. How frivolous concepts like celebrity launch are of utmost importance in this industry which is going more commercial and shallow each day is just one of the many eye opening things in the book. In this world, a book is definitely judged by the cover, and the hype that is created around it. One sufferer in the entire process, as comes out in this story, in a rather acute form is the family of the author.

Beaten by Bhagath is not didactic in its tone. It is more in the form of a personal account, a memoir. The language is simple, with no ornate dialogues, metaphors or symbols which are difficult to negotiate. It is a breezy read, which I took two days to complete - but you might take just one if you are dedicatedly with the book. Instances narrated are relatable, and analogies, like the one in the quote at the beginning of this post are innovative, funny and they help drive the point home, albeit via a circuitous route sometimes. The narrative lacks polish, and the book fails to be gripping - you stick with it not out of fascination but to know the chain of events. If you're not much into the world of publishing, this one definitely is not for you. On the back cover, this book calls itself a reality fiction - pretty much an oxymoron, but perhaps true for this one.

I will give it 2 stars on 5. Hope you have a good time reading this one!

Book Details 
Author - S. V. Divvaakar
Publisher - Frog Books (Leadstart Publishing)
Published - 2013
Book Source - Review Copy
Genre - Fiction
Price - Rs. 125
Pages - 193
I love when authors send a personalized message :)