Bestseller by Ahmed Faiyaz – Book Review


Review of Bestseller by Ahmed Faiyaz

Reviewer – R. Chandrasekar, bestselling author

Writers and publishers, publishers and writers.  Ask one what their pet peeve is and they will inevitably mention the other. And yet, like whiskey and soda or gin and tonic, each needs the other.  One cannot live without the other, and yet finds living with the other the stuff of headaches and nightmares.  In the right hands, this tension has plenty by way of comic and dramatic potential just waiting to be exploited.

Akshay Mathur, the protagonist and narrator of The Bestseller, has a failed novel, a failed marriage and a failed outing as a magazine publisher in London behind him. He is also broke and in debt.  A friend, Angus Lee, whose father has taken a stake in the venerable Kalim Publishers, gives him a lifeline: move to Mumbai, turn the moribund publishing house around in a year and I’ll get dad to fund an e-journal for you in London.

Kalim Publishers turns out to be a dispiriting place.  Samuel, an elderly gentleman, spends his days at Kalim reading the newspapers. Sita, the receptionist, desultorily attends to phone calls. Iqbal Kalim, the owner, sits amidst memorabilia and memories of better days. Old Kalim dies soon thereafter, adding to the sense of gloom around the publishing house.  Worse follows.  An ice cream/energy drinks salesman is brought in to rejuvenate sales and discovers the hard way that what works for ice cream might not be the right recipe for books.  Zorah, Iqbal Kalim’s estranged daughter, joins as marketing and publicity head, adding to Akshay’s personal and business problems.  He soon faces a familiar dilemma: high literary principles versus crass commercial reality.

A motley cast of wannabe writers – an actor with an ego, an attractive young writer who has already written the one book she was meant to write, a dot-com millionaire with literary pretensions, a politician looking to settle old scores and a host of random characters all convinced that they have the next blockbuster bestseller at their fingertips – crowd into Akshay’s world.  Desperate situations call for desperate measures.  Akshay’s high principles begin to give way to calculation and low cunning.

Ahmed Faiyaz has seen the world of publishing from close quarters.  He writes very well and it is clear that he enjoys sending up the pretensions and practices of writers and publishers.  We’ve met some of his characters before, and have seen some of the situations he describes.  But you don’t have to look very far to sense a sly smile or wicked glint in his eye as he weaves his story around them.  My only quibble about The Bestseller is that the loose ends get tied up a little too neatly and that perhaps a storm cloud or two might have been appropriate as Akshay Mathur rides off into the proverbial sunset.  But then again, that might be what it takes to make a bestseller.

“Sly, witty and engaging. There’s not a dull moment in this enjoyable page turner. “


R Chandrasekar, Bestselling Author of The Goat, the Sofa & Mr. Swami

Bestseller is available at Bookstores Nationwide

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Review of Bestseller by Ahmed Faiyaz


Reviewer – Oswald Pereira, Bestselling author of The Newsroom Mafia

After a hiatus of a few years, Ahmed Faiyaz’s new novel, Bestseller, might well prove to be his comeback book. Bold, sexy, and witty, the novel is a no-holds barred expose of the murky. dog-eat-dog publishing world.

Bestseller is a book on the serious subject of the lack of values and ethics in publishing, and it would have been but a sombre read, were it not for the raunchy wit, dark humour, the sparkling prose, turn-of-original phrases, and double entendres. The interesting storyline, the fantastic characters, the racy narrative, the out-of-box descriptions, all combine to make it a book with never a dull moment.

Ahmed has revealed all the dirty tricks used in the publishing world to make a bestseller. He shows how often merit doesn’t make a bestseller, but the celebrity status of an author and clever manipulation of sales does the trick.

The protagonist of Bestseller is Akshay Saxena, an out-of-work editor of a defunct literary magazine in the UK, who relocates to India to work for Kalim, an ailing Indian publisher, in a bid to revive the publisher’s fortunes, thereby bolstering his own. Akshay is ordered to do the impossible ― rustle up five bestsellers in the coming year. If he fails, the publishing house would be shut down and Akshay would have to return almost penniless to the UK.

Akshay Saxena is saddled with making bestsellers out of books that he would never have read, let alone publish, including an ‘asinine’ autobiography of Bollywood superstar Roshan Khan, whose book moves him to tears of frustration for having to sit through such a load of crap. He is also entrusted with making a bestseller out of a book of an ageing and dying politico-social activist, who is a ‘lover of Jack Daniels and younger women’  and never wrote a word in the book, which was ghost-written by his two researchers.

But one person who makes Akshay’s job less difficult is Zorah Kalim, the impulsive daughter of his former boss, who heads marketing and publicity in the publishing house. Ahmed describes Zorah, as ‘she of the luscious lips and hips that swayed like a response to sweet jazz music.’

Apart from the revelations of the publishing world, it is the Akshay-Zorah relationship that gives the book its magical sexy moments and keeps readers glued. Their steamy relationship is explored in the many an erotic para in the book. Roshan Khan, the weed-smoking, booze-guzzling superstar is another major character that captures reader interest. There’s a love-hate relationship between Roshan and Akshay, who is described in the media in the following words: ‘The critically acclaimed young writer whose first book was a disaster and is now the editor of the doomed, once great publishing house, Kalim, is a fixture in Roshan Khan’s entourage, and is often seen sporting expensive watches and smoking cigars at the superstar’s bashes.’ Anya Malik, a bestselling author who reveals more cleavage than is necessary adds to the glitz of the publishing world.

But more than the sexiness, it is the revelations of the publishing world that leave a lasting impression on readers’ minds. For instance, Akshay agrees to ghost write the autobiography of Suryakant Joshi, a ‘gloriously drunk former education minister’ for a princely sum of ₹450,000, which would help in settling the editor’s outstanding credit card dues in the UK.

I would be spoiling the readers’ fun if I reveal more of the plot, as I know of a publishing house in India, who have been running their shady business for decades by coaxing first-time authors to buy 2,000 copies of their own book; and then brazenly shouting from the rooftops that they encourage debut authors. Such shams, too, should have been exposed in the book. Perhaps, Ahmed Faiyaz will do so ― in Bestseller II.

“In all, Bestseller is a hilarious, wildly unpredictable and subversive take on the dog-eat-dog publishing world.”

Oswald Pereira ─ Veteran Journalist and Bestselling Author of The Newsroom Mafia and seven other books. His latest is a co-authored venture, Crime Patrol: The Most Thrilling Stories with TV celebrity host Annup Sonii

Bestseller is Available at Bookstores Nationwide. Order now on –

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Bestseller is available now


Book Cover and early praise for the book

Akshay Mathur, an out of work editor of a defunct literary magazine in the UK, is told to move to India for a year to help shore up the value of Kalim, an ailing Indian publisher.

Akshay finds himself in a job where he has to do the impossible. Angus Lee, the new owner of Thomson Lee Books, wants at least five bestsellers in the coming year, failing which the business would be wound up. He has to find a way of making a success out of books he would never publish or would never even read. To complicate things further, he has to contend with motley crew of has-beens and misfits working for the publishing house as well as wannabe writers, dealing with their follies and derisive tactics, and battle his own affections for Zorah Kalim, the impulsive daughter of his former boss.

Will he succeed in bringing out that one ‘bestseller’ from his publishing house? And what about his own life and love in office? Find out in this riveting read on –

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Urban Shots Bright Lights and Urban Shots Crossroads

Urban Shots Crossroads and Urban Shots Bright Lights.
These babies have arrived in bookstores nationwide, and the feedback we get is that they’re flying off the shelves.
Urban Shots Crosswords (Rs 199)
edited by Ahmed Faiyaz (me)
Edited by bestselling author, Ahmed Faiyaz, this anthology explores the conflict, chaos and confusion in the lives of interesting and colourful characters in Urban India. The reclusive kid with a beautiful bicycle; a migrant to Mumbai with Old Monk on his breath, trying to get off a Virar Fast at Borivali; the misunderstood watchman at the library who befriends a little girl;a playstation loving spoilt brat, who is smitten by his mathematics tutor; an old widower who longs for some intimacy with the opposite sex; a confused writer who has to choose between his wife and a seductress; the gargoyle who is the boss s pet at a call centre; a mild-mannered doctor whose love for yoga puts him on breaking news; a project manager who hates handing out the pink slip; an emotionally scarred woman in the bazaars of Kamathipura; the baraat on a silent night in a one-horse town in Rajasthan; the neighbourhood didi with dark secrets of her own and a lot more.. 

Racy, compelling and heart rending stories by popular writers such as Pantosh Uttam, Reeti Gadekar, Sharath Komarraju, Malcolm Carvahlo, and a number of popular bloggers and debutant writers.
Available on Flipkart ––&_r=aP6abwP46nfnpjqs5YCebg–&ref=daa27853-bf28-4a0b-9395-b916358882f3
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Urban Shots Bright Lights (Rs 199)
edited by Paritosh Uttam
Edited by bestselling author, Paritosh Uttam, this anthology offers snapshots of interesting characters in Urban India. The ten-year-old mathematics loving girl, haunted by memories of her dead mother. The man who buys expensive gifts for married women; an Indian kid who can name every American state in alphabetical order; a boy who knows more than he should about the extra marital affairs of his parents; a baby with secrets of his own; the pesky Maami in the neighbourhood, with a cure for every ailment; the beefy sportsman with a peacock hairstyle; the seven-year-old who wants to get married; a retiree on his last day in a dead end job; the salesman who fails to meet his targets; the grouchy physics teacher with a love for literature; the chatty cab driver who was once a film maker; the philosophical mehndiwala on the sidewalk; a struggling artist in love with his fabled city; the retired pilot with life advice in the window seat and a lot more…. 

Racy, compelling and heart rendering stories of urban lives and characters by popular writers such as Paritosh Uttam, R. Chandrasekar, Malathi Jaikumar, Ahmed Faiyaz and a number of popular bloggers and debutant writers.
Available on Flipkart –
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They're finally here.

Review of Scammed – Confessions of a Confused Accountant

Scammed – Confessions of a Confused Accountant

by Anonymous

Silverfish/ Westland

Rs 175

Why would someone write a novel and not disclose his/her identity? Is the novel in question mired in controversies? These were the questions racing across my mind when I picked up “SCAMMED Confessions of a Confused Accountant” from the book-store. The novel tells the story of a man – Hitesh Shah – with swinging fortunes. Hitesh Shah works for an accounting and audit firm known as Smith & Donald as an Assistant Manager. He is gifted with honesty, hard-working nature and a temperament that doesn’t allow him to say no to any task given to him by his boss. Although he is the most hard working employees of the firm, he is never considered for either a promotion or a good pay-hike. To make matters worse, his parents have been pushing him to marry the girl they are going to select for him.

Suffice it to say that life is not all that rosy for the harried Hitesh Shah. He is a tortured soul both at office and home. Soon his fortunes are about to change in the manner nobody could predict. He lands in Vizag on an assignment to audit Supreme Motors plant owned by one Mr Reddy who operates out of Hyderabad. Mr. Reddy is a businessman and a film producer with strong political links. The protagonist’s honesty touches Mr. Reddy’s heart and soon he makes him an offer that Hitesh Shah cannot refuse.

From here on the story moves at breathtaking space. The rise of Hitesh Shah from a lowly Assistant Manager to the CEO of Super Cabs is the toast of the entire country. He is rich, famous, powerful and well-respected professional with his feet firmly on the ground. But somewhere along the way he has made powerful enemies who have been lurking around the corner to strike at the right moment. What follows is a thrilling tale of retribution and the near downfall of protagonist. The life is suddenly downhill for him with his lady love deserting him and the bosses turning up the heat.

But Hitesh Shah is made up of sterner stuff. He believes in never saying never. He vows to take the fight to the enemy camp. It is really interesting to read how he emerges smelling of roses in style. How he teaches his enemies a lesson and how he wins the love of a very innocent girl Payal.

“SCAMMED Confessions of a Confused Accountant” is a sure page turner. The plot has interesting ups and downs taking the reader on a roller-coaster ride. It is like a game of chess in which after every move the pendulum keeps swinging to and fro. Some readers may find it difficult to come to terms with the sudden turn around in the protagonist’s future. The troubles too begin when the reader is least expecting them. But this is where the strength of this novel lies. Take the reader by surprise without allowing him a chance to think what next now.

The verdict : “SCAMMED Confessions of a Confused Accountant is an exciting read for those who want to quicken their heart-beats after a hectic day at work.

First published on by Irfan, an upcoming blogger/ writter

Source – and Grey Oak Publishers

Review: Jimmy the terrorist

Jimmy the Terrorist by Omair Ahmad

Published by Hamish Hamilton

In Moazzamabad, Uttar Pradesh—a place that is too large to be a town and too backward to be a city—a young man stabs a police inspector and is beaten to death. The last words he speaks are, “My name is Jimmy the Terrorist.” Journalists descend on the town, ‘like shrill birds’, and a long-time resident decides to tell a story that none of them will know.

Jimmy was once Jamaal, son of Rafiq Ansari of Rasoolpur Mohalla, a Muslim neighbourhood in a Hindu town. His story goes back a long way: to the time when Moazzamabad was named, after Aurangzeb’s son; when Rafiq was seduced by the wealth and refinements of Shabbir Manzil and married Shaista; when the Hanuman temple grew 10 storeys high and the head priest was elected mayor; when Shaista died, a mosque was brought down in Ayodhya and Rafiq became a mullah. As Jamaal grows up, watching both his father and his neighbourhood change and curfew reach Moazzamabad, he is changed himself. He becomes Jimmy, one among the countless marginalised, trying to find a place in the world, dimly aware that the choices that shape their lives are being made in distant places, where they have no influence.

Read the rest of the review on Helter Skelter