There are a very few times when you read a book and you do not even feel like you are reading one. “The Bestseller She Wrote” by Ravi Subramanian is one such book. It is an experience (not exactly a great one), though predictable narrative, fast-paced with real-life people, situations and spaces.
Why do I say it feels real? Because you meet real faces like Chetan Bhagat, Anurag Kashyap and even Nirav Sanghavi in this telling of tales. You also feel the media getting high on sensationalism and also see through the games of love and lust. I like how at times the very simple narration manages to raise some really important questions. For example, when Aditya gives his final speech, it feels as if Ravi himself is saying “Life is binary in many ways. There is no way that we can move away from each other slowly and painlessly. There has to be a complete exit”
On face value, it might seem like a novel about love, betrayal and redemption. As it defines itself on the cover of the book. But, if you read it closely I believe it is a very subtle critique of the present day publishing industry. It exposes the loopholes, weakness and strengths of Indian publishing industry. Not many have touched upon these delicate topics in the past.
Ravi unfolds a story of a book within a book, Aditya Kapoor an author of thriller novels, lives a thriller. And you can very much hear authorial voices in Aditya’s words – “A book is not a product when an author is writing it. At that moment it is a dream… But the moment you put a price tag on it and place it on a shelf in a bookstore, it becomes a product”
Being part of the writing fraternity, it is difficult to highlight the darkness lurking in the processes and structure of publishing world. Ravi Subramaniam dares to dwell into that arena by showing such ironies. He is someone who is sitting inside the industry, knowing all the ways of the world and not shying away from criticising the very same people.
It is so disheartening to see Shreya’s book ending up in the slush pile when sent earlier and with a few “marketable” changes it is approved thanks to a special world from an established writer. The very girl who thought books were not “products” ends up using every mean to be a successful writer. She is blinded by her ego, competitive streak and the dream of writing a bestselling novel.
But then as Aditya puts it, “Manipulations have been immortalised in literature…” It raises important questions on the present day debates of plagiarism, writing quality and class-mass literature. In the current day and age of online writing is it impossible to have an “original” work. Was Shreya a victim or a victimizer? If her book would have gotten an honest review from the publisher, would she end up going to this extent?
Absolute Weak Points
For me, there are certain weak moments in the book, I do not like the melodrama with Ebola and what follows. Also, the extent to which Aditya Kapoor is blinded by lust even till the very end is a bit hard to digest. The fact that he goes weak the moment he continues to see Shreya even when Maya is in the hospital is too melodramatic even for Ravi Subramaniam. Other than these exaggerated and at times unwanted tragic flaws in Aditya’s character, the plot holds on its own.
Very straight flat characters. Cheap Romance. Needed more research specially the way bankers have been portrayed. The entire idea about the “writer” and its ideals or principles are taken for a ride. Ideal for a masala Bollywood flick.
Is bestseller she wrote the biggest eye opener for the Indian publishing houses and Indian media?
Have you read it? What do you think?
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