You may not know who Chetan Bhagat is, but this guy is big in India. Via a New York Times article: he is currently the biggest-selling English-language novelist in India’s history, according to his publisher, Rupa & Company, one of India’s oldest and best established publishers. His story of campus life, Five Point Someone, published in 2004, and a later novel, One Night @ the Call Center, sold a combined one million copies.
The 3 Mistakes of My Life is his third novel. I bought the book at the Mumbai airport to read on my flight back to Singapore.
The book was slim, written with simple English. It attracted me because it looks like the kind of book that I can easily finish reading in a day. In addition, I also wanted to find out why this guy’s books sold so well in India – what draws the Indian English readers?
After finishing the book, it is easy to understand why Chetan’s books are popular. He is a writer who writes for his readers, giving them what they want. There’s sex, brotherhood, religion and cricket rolled into the narrative. Everything his countrymen were concerned about, he will weave them into his book.
The narrative is linear and reads like a typical soap opera series. Yet it is strangely endearing, compelling us to read on, just like how most of us have secretly watched a few episodes of cheesy American soaps like “Days of our Lives”.
Here’s the book’s synopsis via wikipedia:
The novel, written as if based on real events, is set in the year 2000, when a young boy in Ahmedabad called Govind dreams of starting a business. To accommodate his friends Ishaan and Omi’s passion, they open a cricket shop. However, each has a different motive: Govind’s goal is to make money; Ishaan desires to nurture Ali, a gifted batsman; Omi just wants to be with his friends. During the story the characters have to deal with religious politics, earthquake, riots, unacceptable love and their own mistakes.
To me, Chetan’s books are a good reflection of the changing India in today’s world. The struggle faced by the growing middle-class and the topics they are concerned about are all documented in his book.
In fact, I would like to read the rest of his books, especially the first two, not for their literary merits, but because it is by reading popular fiction that you get to understand the masses best. 🙂
I am not sure if Chetan’s books are available at the local bookstores, but you can find out more about Chetan and his books via his official website.
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