Book Review: The Bankster

If we look around the crop of current surge of Indian authors, there are very few that will stand out as writing taut, gripping stuff. The so called best-sellers are dealing with what I’d carefully classify as “easy reading” aimed at an audience which is still coming to terms with one of three things – English as the predominant language of their life, the perception of life at or around IITs/IIMs or other such hallowed portals (replace educational institution with financial, advisory, advertising, manufacturing, or any other such workplace and it would be the same), and lastly, a critical/modern look at the Indian cultural ethos (re-interpreting the Mahabharata or Ramayana, or a subsection from the Epic Indian literature that the generation of currently 30+ were fed on). The better Indian literature transcends these categories – Premchand had the ability to look at a common indian’s life, and so did Tagore. An “Anaamdas Ka Potha” from Hazariprasad Dwivedi had the ability to merge the philosophy of Aham Brahmasmi with the quest of an individual, and lace it with heavy doses of dark satire.

In the realm of one and two – simplification of english as a language for the people curious to know about Banking (and its pitholes), Ravi Subramanian has written four books before this  one. The Bankster, is a “financial thriller”, trying to trace the common origins of three stories – that of the corrupt insides of a large multinational bank, a socio-political unrest against a nuclear plant and an international arms dealer network. However, at its heart, its a story about a financial institution, and how the internal people, processes and attitudes create and drive varying levels of corruptions which have a second, a third, or a fourth degree impact on people and their lives. And by simplifying a lot of retail banking operations, Ravi manages to keep the book interesting.

The stories run in parallel till they converge, and quite seamlessly (even if a little too simplistically), except that the arms dealer track seems a little too subsidised while the banker track is overemphasised. This could be a function of Ravi’s professional background and focus on the financial institution story. The build up of the bank story, benaami accounts, fraud prevention, internal manipulations, corrupt practices, and several such small day to day things are captured quite well. Ravi manages to create a large number of interesting characters, but loses them somewhere in the grand scheme of things. Right from Vikram, Indrani, Tanuja, Nikhil, etc. to the Menon’s and their back stories, the Jaishankars, and so on. So much so that the end seems trivialised a great deal, and the nexus too simple. The faceless Joseph Braganza seems a little too puny in the end. The language, mannerisms and styles of different characters get muddled up along the way, with probably the exception of Tanuja.

Its the bank story where Ravi has got most of the detailing close and interesting. The arms track is the weakest, and has one of the biggest loopholes in the story. The way the third track starts building up, around an old man’s protest against the establishment, keeps you intrigued for a bit and shows a lot of promise. But then again, it collapses towards the end.

The book maintains a breezy pace, and is loaded with large number of small and interesting events to keep your mind busy. The Vikram-Tanuja banter could have been better. An interesting strength or weakness, depending on how you see it, is that there isn’t really anyone who occupies too much of space in the book. So, you are never too bothered about who the pivot of the story is.

I’d still give a thumbs up for this book and go with a 5 on 10. We as a breed of “english authors” are evolving and hopefully, the next one from Ravi will be continue to become better (I couldnt finish his previous one – If God Was A Banker).

Afterthought: I am very happy to note the kind of forum/audience a lot of budding Indian authors are getting now. Several people around me have published. Unfortunately, somewhere on this highway, our Hindi/ Urdu/ regional language literature is losing its way.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at . Participate now to get free books!

About Amit
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

One Response to Book Review: The Bankster

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