Publisher: Rupa Publications
Price: INR 195
Miss Fifoo, the so-called sizzling sex siren of sin city, has gone missing. Seventy-something retired bureaucrat Radhey Radhey Kumar, also known as RR, is approached by the principal of her alma mater to look into the matter because he’s been living right across the street for years now. And RR takes up the assignment, only to find himself on a wild ride as he plunges deeper into the underbelly of Delhi.
Given the illogical & rather absurd premise of Anurag Mathur‘s fifth novel ‘The Country is Going to the Dogs!’, it’s hard to take a book like this with an adequate amount of seriousness. Add to that an unlikable protagonist – hypocritical, prejudiced & incredibly libidinous – whose very presence in the entire affair seems contrived & a total misfit and it already seems like an insurmountable task to make this book readable.
Fortunately, it seems Mathur is aware of the shortcomings of his book in terms of plot – which is why he makes sure that there are hardly any boring moments throughout the course of the novel. The pace is brisk & there is always something happening, so the book is quite a page-turner. Some of the characters RR come across during his investigation are quite interesting, for instance the veteran crime reporter Anwar who helps RR at every point, Shelley Sahib a.k.a. the Poetic Pimp & the all-powerful Don, who rules the capital’s underworld.
As far as the humour quotient is concerned, Mathur tries to make the most of the situations RR finds himself in, say the gay bashes or the wife-swapping parties – both which come as a rude culture shock to our aging protagonist. Also, RR’s rather delightful conversations with Anwar & reflections on his relationship with his married son’s family serve as commentary on the generation gap & changes in Indian society, culture & pop culture besides exposing him as the hypocrite he really is.
All in all, this book is at best a breezy read – I finished it in just over a couple of hours on a train journey. Recommended for readers of Indian popular fiction looking for a novel that is lighthearted in its tone & seeks to entertain the reader from the very outset.
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