25 April, 2015

#BookReview :: Autobiography of a Mad Nation by Sriram Karri

"I was born in a mentally retarded nation." - Thus begins this provocative, stylish, and racy literary rant against India by a twenty-four-year-old awaiting capital punishment.

When Dr M Vidyasagar (‘Sagar’), retired chief of CBI, gets an unusual request from his old friend and the President of India to privately investigate if Vikrant Vaidya—sentenced to death for motivelessly killing his teenage neighbour Iqbal—is innocent or not, little does he know how convoluted a conspiracy he is setting foot in. 

With a narrative that springs forth from and weaves its way through the Emergency, anti-Sikh riots post Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Ram Janmabhoomi Rath Yatra, anti-Mandal Commission protests, economic liberalisation, Babri Masjiddemolition, and Godhra riots, readers will find themselves in the grips of a chimerical tale, asking and answering the question: Is India truly a mad nation? 


The story begins with the protagonist, Vikrant Vaidya, writing to the President of India from prison. Convicted of murdering his neighbor, Vikrant, instead of the usual mercy letter that prisoners write, writes a letter that intrigues the President. As a result, the President requests his friend and former CBI head, Vidyasagar to look into Vikrant’s case. When Vidyasagar picks up the case, he has little knowledge, but soon he is ensnared in a loop of conspiracies that are much larger than one expected.

"I was born in a mentally retarded nation."  

The first line of the book had me hooked to the book. The author is speaking about my country and I cannot deny but I have often thought in the same lines. As a result I immediately warmed up to the character of Vikrant. He was a voice that I loved hearing throughout. The author has done an expert job of narrating his story just right – without going overboard in any aspect. It would have been so easy to have turned preachy and have the author rant about some issue or the other for pages. But instead, everything was kept straightforward and to the point. The book covers everything that our nation stands for - cricket, books, caste system, religion, politics and even corruption. The book gives us an unbiased (at least I felt so) view at our nation and at us. And while most of it is not pretty one cannot but appreciate the author’s viewpoint. The plot has enough to offer to something to everyone and some twists did take me by surprise too. However, I do have issues with the ending and I am not sure if I agree with the author on it.

This is one of those books that might elicit extreme reactions from people because of the sensitive topics included. You may love it or you may hate it – but you certainly will not be able to ignore it. 


Review Copy received from Fingerprint Publishing


3 comments:

  1. This one would surely be a hit! Thanks for the review..

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  2. I am generally apprehensive of all books which rant at any topic. When the topic is about my own country, I would want the author to tread very carefully. I know India has problems, but which nation doesn't?

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  3. As Includes "President" , " Investigation " & "India".....Definetely gonna put in my "To-Read" section . Thanks for the Review Ma'am :)

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