Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Apprentice by Arun Joshi

I only came to know about Arun Joshi with this piece which appeared in The Hindu. I am glad I did.  The Tribune has aptly reviewed the book with these lines, 
“The Apprentice ceases to be a book. It becomes life and worst of all, the reader’s own secret life of illusions.”  Towards the end, I realized how true it was. 
An epitome in India realism.

The book presents a young man’s (Ratan Rathore) yearning  for a job and the friction a job hunt generates with his friends in the backdrop of a city he is new to. Only when he gets the job, the book assumes its true existentialist nature with Ratan beginning to understand the repercussions of his actions and reflecting on every of his thoughts as he gets carried away in the professional advancement. The novel has flow and yet it stops after every couple of pages and makes us think about Ratan's moves. The book highlights the issue of corruption in the power studded central bureaucratic government functioning of Delhi in the early years of Independence. The issue raised during 50s is as relevant as in today’s times when every govt. official can be seen with the eyes of suspicion towards his work ethics.
I don’t underline in Novels but very soon I was bound to do it. Almost halfway through, I found myself underlining at a rate I would only do in a Non Fiction. Such was the over lap of its Genre.
Arun Joshi, though has won Sahitya Academy Award is almost unknown to the reading community of the present generation. I couldn’t believe that it was not available on Flipkart and many other Online platforms. Joshi’s decision to stick to Orient Paperbacks(an Indian publishing house) over emerging foreign houses like Harper Collins/Penguin might have been a legible reason for the slow erosion of his novels from the bookshops.  Though the novel and the author needs a far greater recognition by the present generation. Its interesting to know that he held an MBA from MIT. 

Notable Excerpts:

1. In Winter’s you can tell the time by the intensity of fog. (Someone from North will understand this better).
2. It was not patriotism but money, she said, that brought respect and bought security. Money made friends. Money succeeded where all else failed. There were laws, but money was law unto itself.
3. It is our humiliations and not conquests, my friends that dominate our memories. 
4. Your modesty encourages one to be brash.
5. Because a faker soon forgets who he really is. 

Rating: 8.5/10

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