Language: English
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9788129118776
Pages: 308
Price: 250 INR

As a reader, I’ve always been skeptical of Indian authors. After reading a lot of them, I’ve been left with an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Perhaps I’ve always picked up the wrong books, but they either tend to brood purely on the philosophical, or tend to overly focus on feminism. While I have nothing against these two genres of writing, I’ve just found the repetition of ideas to be very overwhelming, and at times, unnerving. Then there’s a third class of Indian writing, the Chetan Bhagats of the world who put together novels with a not overly intricate storyline and remix it with their own brand of pseudo-interesting Hinglish, and go on to gain timeless popularity. It was thus, with a great sense of trepidation, that I picked up ‘The Incredible Banker‘.

Having had a deep liking for all things fiction, I was more than excited to pick up a copy of ‘The Incredible Banker‘. After all, R. Subramanian‘s novel on fictional banking fraud came with glowing recommendations from a lot of people I know. A short read of 300 or so pages, I was able to get it over with within 3 commutes to and from office. The length of the book, I must confess, is very pleasing.

The plot is orchestrated in the Mumbai offices of the Great Boston Global (GB2) bank, and office politics take a center stage from the get go. The primary protagonists are two people, different in their ideas, clashing time and again because of the enormity of their egos. There’s also the typical fiction novel’s attempt at throwing conspiracy and violence into the mix, with one angle showcasing the Naxalite cells active in various parts of India, and another showing the RBI’s crackdown on foreign banks operating in India. The book takes a flashback and back-to-the-present approach of presenting the tale, not unlike the way the sitcom How I Met Your Mother is broadcast. By flitting between years, venues, and characters, the author manages to build up a fair amount of suspense, which all comes together towards the end chapters of the book, interweaving the Naxal story along with the spat between two fierce rivals at a bank, and a bigger conspiracy.

The Incredible Banker’ has a lot going for it, including a moderately riveting storyline, short page-turnable chapters, and even the occasional attempt at humor thrown in. It is therefore, not a big surprise, that it’s being promoted front and center in major bookstores across the country like Crossword and Landmark. However, as an overall read, I found the novel to be lacking on many counts.

For starters, despite having a decent storyline, the way the narrative is brought out leaves a lot to be desired. To be very honest, the first half of the book looks to be of the Chetan Bhagat school of narrative, and at times the language was so juvenile that I regretted buying the book. The juvenile nature of the language was especially apparent in the author’s description of romantic liaisons between two of the bank’s employees. The flirting depicted was embarrassing and the repeated use of cliched phrases totally killed it.

The level of editing in the book also doesn’t seem to be up to the mark. Misplaced exclamation marks (which are particularly annoying if you intone what you read in your head), abruptly ending sentences, and a general knack of throwing in Hindi at the most inopportune of moments spoilt the reading experience for me. And despite being marketed as a thriller – albeit of the finance world – I never quite got the ‘hold-on-to-your-horses-something-big-is-gonna-go-down’ vibe from the book. Many a time, chapters ended on a very dull note, not even inviting the reader to the turn the page.
All in all, I’d probably give this book a mediocre 5/10. It scores in having a decent enough storyline which has the potential to keep the reader engaged. The way the author ties up all the loose ends together in the end is also praiseworthy. However, the overall low level of narrative in the book turned me off from wanting to even reach the end of it. The fact that I did was more a testament to my will rather than the author’s ability to keep me hooked. The idea was there, but the execution just failed on multiple counts.

Read ‘The Incredible Banker’ only if you have time to kill and nothing majorly important to do on your way to work. Don’t if you’re looking for a literary treat of gigantic proportions.

This is a guest contribution by Abhigyan Banerjee. His Twitter Bio reads:
Proponent of madness. Mercurial. Reader. Web and Android crazy individual. Occasional Software Engineer. Eternal Learner.

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