“Please bhaisahab, adjust a little”


Title: Above Average

By: Amitabha Bagchi

Is it possible to review a book after having read only the first chapter?

While waiting for your answer, a quick word about Amitabha Bagchi’s debut novel Above Average. The voice is part-Upamanyu Chatterjee and part-Amitav Ghosh. I have just started reading it and like it because of lines like these: “When we entered the train compartment in which Agrawals Classes had booked all of us, one of the Papas decided to ensure that we all sit together. ‘Please bhaisahab,’ he said, hectoring one passenger after another, ‘adjust a little, all these boys are travelling on their own for the first time.’ ‘Let’s stay here,’ said Kartik, his seat and mine having been assigned together by chance. When the proactive Papa offered us two seats he had arranged for us near the others, Kartik demurred. ‘Look at all these guys,’ he said pointing at the other people who were part of Agrawals’ group. ‘Such shadys.’”

Oh, I can’t do a review on the basis of so few pages, you say? No problem. I can go back to my reading then, starting with the second chapter that begins: “My grandfather was a terrorist and a Shakespeare scholar.” (Bongs!)