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Monday, May 21, 2018

The Aryabhata Clan by Sudipto Das

Title: The Aryabhata Clan
Author: Sudipto Das
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Price: 444
Pages: 476

Snapshot Review: 
The Aryabhata Clan is a unique book; truly unique. Reading it filled me with genuine surprise and pleasure at the growth of Indian Writing, albeit in an alien tongue English. The scope, breadth and depth of the book is quite frankly stunning – and it deserves a read for this reason alone, its weaknesses notwithstanding. The author deserves credit and a standing ovation for imagination, bringing diverse thought-streams, ideas and domains into one connected story with immaculate detailing.

What can I say about the story? I am at a loss for words, and don’t know where to start. But, in a nutshell, the story is an involved story around a planned terror attack in India, and how some people, alongwith the authorities, go about thwarting it, and the price they have to pay for it. The fun part is the base story has been embellished with an eclectic mix of History, Art, Lingustics, Handicrafts, Ancient Mathematics and Geography to create a stunning saga. You might wonder what does Art and Linguistics have to do with foiling a terror plot, to say nothing of Handicrafts? Well, I shan't tell you, and neither will the book blurb at the back of the book. Read the book to find out more!

First, my impression of the book. Now, I have studied linguistics, as well as in-depth History; even I, despite my proclivity for these subjects, found the content pedantic and mildly boring in the early-middle section before the story caught on. On the first reading, I just plain skipped the linguistic and Handicraft part, and wasn’t any the worse in my understanding for it. I accept the importance of detailing in a novel, but this was way too extensive, and frankly a bit tedious. Also, in the early middle part, about 60-70 pages, are needless, and frankly can be cut down by half. For this reason alone, my overall rating for the book suffers, and I rate it around 3 to 3.5 stars.

What this does is it spoils the story in two ways – firstly it disturbs the narrative, and you tend to lose track; it complicates matters, bringing extraneous things into it. Second, it hampers character and plot-line development. A far better approach would have been to find a way to slowly introduce it, interleaving it with greater emphasis on other aspects of the plot – which has several parallel lines of development. Do I, the reviewer, suffer from knowledge bias – having studied History and Linguistics? Perhaps, that is also possible, fair is fair. That said, this section should have been dealt with much better.

Moving on, the consummate skill with which the author has deftly handled the diverse sub-plots, narratives, and methodically laid down the base of the story, as well as it myriad aspects, right from Linguistics to History to Mathematics to Paleography to Handicrafts to Epigraphy is frankly remarkable. Despite a short slip above, he has managed to retain attention –I did continue reading, didn’t I? And, bringing them all together in one kaleidoscope of a wide-spectrum story is awesome. I wish I could rate this 5 stars; pity that I cant.

I wont say much about the characters: this story, truth be told, isn’t about characters. They just failed to register with me. This is not a discredit – the plot is more about the involved intricacies, not about people. Thus, focusing more on people would be a decided spoiler. The narrative is reasonably fast, though complex and involved. This is decidedly not your one time fast read-and-forget novel; this is a collectors edition, to be read at your own pace, and with a free mind.

The story gathers pace and improves dramatically from the middle section, around page 200 or so, and takes on a life of its own. The part prior to this was more complex, establishing the background, and going into detailing of the various aspects. Thus, in conclusion, this is a great book to read, though a bit involved, and complex. 

RC Rating: I rate it 3.5 stars overall. With a bit of reorganization and editing, this is easily 5-star material – but what is there is good enough. No doubts on that score!

About the Author: An alumnus of IIT KGP, Sudipto is a successful entrepreneur, having co-founded two start-ups. He is also an author, musician, columnist and a speaker at TED events. A violinist, trained in Western classical music, Sudipto debuted as a music composer in 2014. He is a member of an amateur music band, Kohal. History, culture, language, writing, music and travel feature prominently in his range of interests. 
The Aryabhata Clan is his second book, the Ekkos Clan being the first.

Book Reviewed by Vishal Kale.
Vishal Kale has an MBA in Marketing with 16 years of experience in Sales, Marketing & Operations across various industries, with end-to-end specialisation in telecom sales and marketing. 

He is an Indian Top Blogger {on ITB Website} for the past 2 years and counting; Nominated in top 5 Political Bloggers by Blogadda in Win-15 & Among the top 200 bloggers worldwide on Invesp. He specialises in deep politico-economic analysis; Books off the beaten track, and a value & fundamentals-based approach towards the Indian Economy, Corporate India - And Especially Indian Colonial History"

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