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April 1, 2011

Book Review - 18 : Dork - The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese

Author: Sidin Vadukut
Publisher: Penguin Books

In April 2006 Dork, a stupendously naive but academically gifted young man graduates from one of India's best business schools with a Day-zero job at the Mumbai office of Dufresne Partners, a mediocre mid-market management consulting firm largely run by complete morons. Through a stunning series of blunders, mishaps and inadvertent errors, Robin begins to make his superiors rue the day there were driven by depression into hiring him. He also realizes that the one-sided relationship with B-school batchmate Gouri Kalbag might be over before it even started. Will he manage to achieve his short-term goal of being promoted to associate in under a year? will love conquer all?

Let me warn you that it is a polarizing book. You will either love it or hate it. For starters, it has the exact problem as Amit Varma's My friend Sancho. Lot of witty, sarcastic and funny moments in the narrative but hardly any concrete storyline. Set up in the backdrop of management consulting, it traces the first year at work for Robin who has passed MBA from a premiere institute in India in 2006. Written in the form of diary entries, it traces the funny and not-so-funny experiences in his life at Dufresne Partners.

And since no Indian debut novel can be complete without a love story thrown in, we have an almost invisible love track of Gouri, which i am quite sure, was added as an after thought in the book. In fact, you can take out her track completely from the main story and will realise that nothing will happen to Robin's ultimate goal of becoming an associate in one year. Most of the characters except Robin are poorly developed and have very little to show in terms of growth or transition. They move in and out of the narrative at their own whims and fancies, have very little to contribute to the main plot and none of them are particularly relatable. I agree that it is not a book about perfect relationships, in fact most of them here are quite superficial but they should have been given far more space to create any kind of impact.The ending is abrupt and disappointing but considering that 2 more books are coming up in this series, this may not turn out to be a farce.

The only saving grace is the titular character of Robin. There is a heavy dose of gaalis and gags in his (mis)adventures at the workplace and there are some real funny digs taken at the management consulting companies. His goofiness and comical situation with fellow colleagues will keep you in spits all throughout the book. His observations about the dressing sense of employees, work ethics (or the lack of it) of his peers, usage of internet and social networking websites to implement work assignments; all this has an endearing quality. One major roadblock is the over usage of MBA jargons which some people will find too contextual and hence, it provides a risk of alienating them with the jokes.

And therein lies the truth somewhere, that this is not so much a book as it is an interesting concept of strapping in all the diary entries. To be made into a proper book, it required a far more credible screenplay and properly developed supporting characters. It is only with the extra-ordinary humorous take on the corporate life, this book hooks you till the end. It is a racy, funny ride which you won't mind taking on but will ultimately leave you with a sore bum.

I am going with generous 3/5 for Sidin Vadukut's first volume of the Dork trilogy, The incredible adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese. If you are one of those type of readers who don't care much about the lack of a storyline and just want to have FUN, you will surely enjoy this one. For my types, who needs logic and a concrete screenplay, it will leave you with bit of a disappointment. Till the next Robin adventure happens, I better stick to Domain Maximus blog.


Pooja Mahimkar said...

Thank you for the review I was thinking of buying it but after the review I won't buy it :D

Amit Gupta said...


The choice is on yours. All the best :)

Priya said...

Good review! I have a question, where do you buy these books? I mean, I looked around, but didn't seem to find many debut books by Indian authors. I wouldn't usually have read any, used to be pretty skeptic, but after I read Love on the Rocks, I'm kind of looking for some good reads!

Amit Gupta said...


Thanks, I generally buy the books online. I used to buy from book stores a lot but in the past 2-3 years, i find that discounts given by certain websites like flipkart/infibeam/indiplaza is quite a lot and nothing in comparison to retail bookstores. Flipkart is probably the best website in terms of quality of delivery. Dial-a-book is also good specially if you are in any of the metro cities. You can follow these websites on FB/twitter. You can also follow certain book review websites like Book rack and Book chums (all my reviews are published on these two websites also). There are generally multiple reviews available for the same book, so it is always good to have multiple point of views before buying a book.

A caveat, if you are looking to explore Indian fiction, make sure you do your background check on a book. There is lot of trash being published these days, but there is some good stuff too. you need to be judicious.

Happy reading!

Priya said...

Book rack is where I saw your blog, I write there too! Thanks a lot for the info! :)

Amit Gupta said...


Oh cool, i think i may have saw few of your reviews there as well, but couldn't relate back. Pleasure is all mine, cheers!

Sidin said...

Thanks for the review Amit. And the generous score. Next time hopefully I'll be able to convince you to give me a 4!

Cheers. And thanks to the other commenters as well...