Author: Sidin Vadukut
Publisher: Penguin Books
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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.