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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When The Signal Turns Red by Jayanand Ukey

Title: When The Signal Turns Red
Author: Jayanand Ukey
Publisher: Alchemy Publishers 
Genre : Fiction 
Date:  2013
Price: Rs. 175
Pages: 198

Fictionalizing of real events or characters has been an age long appealing subject for the creative people. Be it in movies or novels or art or theatres – the style of adopting something real time is both way attractive and easy to relate.  But the most important part is the readers can visualize the event, its impact. Surprisingly, most of the novels, encompassed on real events are based on assassinations. Be it Frederick Forsyth or Mohammed Hanif – they have chose to write on the world’s most shocking assassinations.

In his debut novel,  Jayanand Ukey has chosen the Great Recession of 2008 as his backdrop.  The plot revolves around a couple victimized by the economic down slide – and how they came over it. Given the target group of contemporary fictions in India of this genre – it was the perfect setting.  An incident in the near past – and the impact had been huge on Indian citizens. So, it got to hold the attention and make the plot more gripping.  The author has intelligently chosen the plot. So, far from getting into the league of the “assassination novelists” – Ukey extended the tradition by spinning his plot on an incident at the backdrop of the plot.

The language used is lucid and is apt with the plot. The pace also suits the flow. But, the author has used very short sentences. Though it makes the book an easy read – it hampers the flow of writing on the whole.

The author took a contemporary subject. Losing a job confirmed by campus drives of reputed firms – is equally frustrating and shocking. So, the author had full opportunity to explore the psyche of a young soul at that point. Though he tried in few instances – the attempt remained too much half baked. The sorrow – the shock – the nowhereness that the boy would face at that point was hardly mentioned. Though, the author has tried to give a glimpse of the condition any middle-class family would face hearing their loss of job of their only son – it was a glimpse only. A few more detailed descriptions would have helped to get the real picture.
The author has shown his prudence in defining the differences between two families. The differences in economic stature and culture were portrayed in a very realistic way. The meets of two families, more specifically, two fathers were very interesting.

Apart from all the other tantrums – the central theme of the novel is the romance and love of a couple that came over all tumultuous times. And, romance means moments. And, here the author pulled down the bar completely. A novel based on an affair of an early twenty couple had the opportunity to display some great romantic moments. Unfortunately, the book is devoid of that. There are only some half baked if not unbaked attempts of the same. I have noticed in some other books – the subplots not steady enough to support the main theme of the book. But, in this book – the subplot is a major let down. Though a third male character peeped in – it seemed more implanted than required. The climax is another debacle. From the realistic ground of economic down slide – the book ended on a ‘comical’ note!

Few days back, on my Facebook wall, I noticed a bestselling authors’ status. It read “Most novels are written in first person, "I". Anybody know the reason for this?” May be the answer lies in the fact that “It is really easy to write and express the feelings when you keep yourself in place of the protagonist” (as replied by one). Really it matters. In the whole book, though it was a very contemporary topic – the characters did not evolve that close. The counter characters never grew strong. And, the whole story took a mere simplistic approach.

The author has infringed very positive attitude throughout. The main character in our story never loses hope. And, he bounces back with a promise. And, this is what that wins over. Though it avoids many vital turns – it leaves over a happy-feeling with the readers. And, that is what counts!

The Review:
Positives:  A light read, casually written
Negatives:  Plot disappointing, characters not well defined. 
The Verdict!!! 2 stars out of 5

About the Author
Jayanand Ukey works for an IT company and is also a freelance journalist and blogger. He has a computer engineering degree from VESIT, Mumbai University. In a career spanning a decade, he has kept his hobby alive by writing three books. This book is his first published work. Jayanand lives in Mumbai with his family. To know more about the author, visit him at or email him at

This book has been reviewed by Sankha Ghosh:  Sankha Ghosh was never born in that 'City of Joy', never dreamt of being a banker, never watched a Godard, never loved Kafka, never fell for that Solitary Reaper, never danced on a friend’s wedding, never fought for human rights, never had a crush at college and never ever aspired to work on a novel! Never was he as simple as this! #He wishes

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