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September 27, 2013

Book Review - 133 : Beaten by Bhagath

Author : S.V. Divvaakar
Publisher : Frog Books / Leadstart Publishing

Beaten by Bhagath! - A tale of Two writers by S.V. Divvaakar is amusing and frustrating in equal parts. Touted to be an insider and outsider look on the publishing industry in India, it portrays the trials and tribulations of an author trying to pen down his first novel. Pushed in jest by his lady boss, the central protagonist BB sets off on his quest to write a book that's better than India's greatest writer Dr. Bhagath's blockbusters. As the destiny would have it, BB and Bhagath have been classmates are friends at college only to be thrown apart with routine of career and worldly services.

Divvaakar takes us deep into the mind and histrionics of a writer right from ignoring his family to being elusive and a responsibility shrinker. He exposes the reader to the real and the fake publishers, their demands, tantrums and another round of histrionics. We realize that finding a publisher is just not enough in this age of Google. The author research in these portions is pretty evident and credit must be given to weave them in the narrative of the story which is humorous and ironic at the same time.

The writer has another round of happenings and misadventures with promoting the book right from managing a guest for the book launch to Facebook likes. We also get insights into the e-Retail stores vs. bookstores vs. chain bookstores stocking the book, the distribution maze and the real book-selling story all through BB’s adventures in the Indian publishing industry. The story after this whole roundabout sequence heads into the future with the advent and market capture of e-Books. And with it turns around BB fortunes as a wordsmith culminating into the big finale but quite unlike the one BB or his sexy boss may have imagined.

Problem is that even at just 190 odd pages, it is still long and there are few portions which could have cut down as they add very little to the story. College pranks involving BB and Bhagath does nothing more than provide a cheap redemption to each of the characters in the climax after having ignored each other for ages. The writing is witty and author maintains a decent pace but there are few portions where pace slackens when the author tries to concentrate a little too much on creating a melodramatic space between the characters. I particularly found the experiences of BB a little too over the top and considering his foolish antics, he do deserve to get the wrath he eventually endures when things go a bit wrong.

I am going with 3/5 for S.V. Divvaakar's 'Beaten by Bhagath'. It does succeed in providing an inside (and mostly correct) look into the world of Indian publishing. I wish it was a little shorter and had fewer OTT moments in its narrative. However, if you are a budding writer and planning to write your first novel, it may not be a bad idea to pick this one for your reading and get a wholesome new perspective on publishing.

[The book was received as part of Reviewers Program on The Tales Pensieve ]

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