Publisher: Rupa Publications
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No clichés, no bollywood flick-like drama, and no stereotypes – the kind of refreshing read by an Indian author one finds very scarce these days. For all the distressed readers of Indian fiction, here comes our own author-in-shining-armour, Aditya Mukherjee, with his very first novel, Boomtown.
Set in Delhi, Boomtown is the story of four individuals from different spheres of life, coming together to materialize their dream startup, a fusion restaurant. JJ, the dreamer, an affluent Malayali, after his various travails realizes his true calling when he encounters a traditional recipe by Khan Mian from Chandni Chowk, with a slight modification in its essence. This leads to his discovery of Jaaved, the grandson of Khan Mian, who works in his grandfather’s place and is as gifted as his famous grandfather, but yearns to step out of the tradition and create his own recipes (orange sauces, lemon coffees and what nots!).
At the same time, Roy, born to typical Indian parents with a typical IT job after a typical education, gets laid off by his firm and is thrown off into nothingness. Amidst this catastrophe, he finds himself in the hands of JJ, also a former college mate and best friend, to join his crazy venture in Delhi. JJ also ropes in a former schoolmate Sheetal, a feisty working single mother, to help in this venture. Together, they start working on How-to-start-a-restaurant-chain-from-scratch-without-giving-up.
The absolute realism with which the author writes this story just adds flair to the plot. Be it the disillusionment of Roy against his IT life, or Sheetal’s bitterness from a marriage that failed, or JJ’s superfluous craziness to show the world that dreamers can dare, along with real Indian themes of corruption, dadagiri and reluctance to accept novelty- the writer manages to keep them grounded (just like the Chowk boy Jaaved who remains calm in the midst of all this unaccustomed urbaneness).
Boomtown is a mélange of eccentricity, life crisis, friendship and love. It is about an India where the youth are constantly kept on their toes by their elders to succeed, and in spite of scorning traditions or the system, we all conform to it in the end. The author has done his homework and what we get in the end is a wonderfully crafted novel that makes a mark in the reader’s mind. (My favourite part being where the writer jibes at the “new-gen” Indian writers who write novels with the sole purpose of seeing it come live on screen. Right on spot!)
I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to read sense with Indian sensibilities, and still have a good time.