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January 31, 2012

Book Review - 68 : The Suicide Banker

Author: Puneet Gupta
Publisher: Rupa & Co 

The Suicide Banker is the story of a young banker whose employers believe in the motto of turning conventional wisdom upside down. Against the backdrop of financial boom and subsequent meltdown during the first decade of this century. Sumit becomes an unfortunate witness, active participant and ill-fated victim in the affairs of Ind-Credit Bank. Over the course of life-altering events, the once blue-eyed boy is slowly but surely sucked into the dark abyss of financial world his dreams collapsing one by one in a heap, taking a heavy toll on his personal and professional life. Will he be able to survive?

Same in the spirit as Ravi Subramanian's Banking trilogy, the book moves at a brisk pace and we are introduced to a range of characters from all the hierarchical levels in the bank. The mystery seems interesting to start with and you genuinely feel sympathetic towards the rigmarole of Sumit's life. The language is crisp and there are quirky one-liners thrown in within the finance context. Even in personal relationships, there is a sincerity in Sumit's relationship with a junior colleague but at some point in the narrative, that plot-point is conveniently side-tracked and loses momentum. Such kind of road-blocks make this book a difficult read after the initial momentum.

Problem is, there are very little nuances here, everything is sanitized and things get extremely preachy in the narrative. The author writes with a heavy hand, underlining every single point it makes while telling this story, leaving almost nothing to subtlety. As a result, the book is too long and rambles on and on when clearly a reader has run out of patience. If you’re unfamiliar with finance jargon, much of this book is going to sound like Greek to you. It could have been gritty and realistic, but it goes for a more populist tone instead. The conflict seems too simplistic in the end, and you’re pretty much bored for much of the second half. The personal life description of the main protagonist is too detailed specially including those scenes where his wife is hosting a TV show and invoking responses from audience. Almost 10 pages could have been simply edited out because it hardly makes a difference to the main narrative.

I am going with 2.5/5 for Puneet Gupta's 'The Suicide Banker'. It is not a bad book by any means; it is just too long, too preachy and too many characters sounding similar in the end analysis. A little restraint and light hand would have done this book a lot of good. Read it if you are from finance background, you may feel different about it.

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