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
Amazon ebook for Kindle – https://www.amazon.in/Bestseller-Ahmed-Faiyaz-ebook/dp/B07JYRS1C1
More about the book on – http://rupapublications.co.in/books/bestseller/