If you were to look through my bookshelves (they fill up an entire room and then some…) you’d find an eclectic mix of books from an equally eclectic range of writers. You’d find quite a few Indian authors but barely any of the fluff fiction that passes for writing these days. Truth be told, there are less than 10 of them. And apart from one or two, they’ve all left me miserably disappointed. Some, I haven’t read beyond the initial chapters and the forever loved ‘A thing beyond forever’ was so particularly painful that I lasted a mere half page. I wanted to gouge my eyes out over that compilation of paper I wouldn’t wipe poop with. Which is why I’m always filled with trepidation when someone recommends a National Bestseller. But then, I saw a friend of mine promoting “How I braved Anu Aunty” on facebook and I was intrigued.
For one, the cover page had no crappy insinuations to love or engineering colleges. And then, the caricature of Anu Aunty was just hypnotic. I wanted to pick up the book just to look at that big head with a bigger bindi! 😀 But I didn’t. I thought this would be another one of those fluff fiction books which would have poor grammar, crappy writing and absolutely nothing worth my time. Even though the name of the book alluded to an entrepreneurial story, I was sceptical. But then…I read reviews – good ones. And I still didn’t pick it up because I needed to trust the reviewer. I’d read waay too many good reviews of far too many abysmal “writers” (and I use this term in its most loose connotation here). I know what you’re thinking…and yes, I am a snob. After the massive heartburn that was Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone,(shudder, puke, puke some more) the more hyped a book was, the more cynical I’d become. But then, I saw that Rupa published it. And a teeny voice inside me said, “well, they have good sensible editors. Maybe the story won’t be good but atleast there will be no pathetic language being written off as how youngsters talk.” You see, what Mr. Bhagat had failed to recognize was that when he came out with five point, I was a youngster and I was the exact age of his protagonist and no sir, I did not talk like that. Nor did my friends or their friends. Anyhow, with good reviews and a good publisher, this book made its way onto my reading list.
It was a massive headache to source this book and I think I have to sever my long standing relationship with Flipkart because of their shoddy customer service. So when, after almost 3 months of scouring for the book, it made its way into my hands on Saturday night, I just had to start reading it. And what a read it was.
I loved this book. The last time an Indian author had made me laugh out loud as much as he did was when Anuja Chauhan came out with The Zoya Factor back in 2008! I started reading it today, sometime in the early evening and I was faced with a dilemma. This book is such a simple read and it flows so effortlessly that even before I realized, I’d polished off half of it and I felt cheated. I wanted to slow down and savor it and yet, I had to speed up because I was eagerly awaiting the next Anu Aunty dialogue. This book just swooshed past and made my day so very cheery.
It’s not like I found nothing wrong with the book. I can almost always find flaws. And I did. But the most refreshing change was that the characters spoke in a language which was identifiable. The dialogues weren’t stilted or forced. There was no spelling error or glaring grammatical offence. Even the sprinkling of Bollywood music and thunder and lightning was done very cleverly. Even before the author commented on them being present, because of the narrative, I was always expecting it and I would always pause to wonder just which tune would be more apt. What was also very refreshing was that there was no moaning or sighing for a woman. There was, however, a lot of it because of a woman (adorable anu aunty). Friendships were real and not glossed over. Crises were also relateable.
My only tangible regret is that the situation with Aahaana could have been more interestingly explored and Devika’s date was almost like a third forelimb. Awkward and quite frankly, I didn’t see the point of it. I don’t get that tangent at all.
But the one thing this book managed to do, was to change my opinion. I might not pick up every fluff fiction out there even now, but if it sounds intriguing, I might atleast pick up the book to read the back cover. I’m not sure fluff fiction is exactly where this book stands but I know for a fact that it isn’t literary. And I think, therein lies the beauty of Anu Aunty. It isn’t trying to be anything. It isn’t pretending to be a mass produced book, nor is it trying to be transcendental.
The author says that he’s not a writer but a story teller and frankly, I have to disagree. His story is fabulous but what stood out was his narrative. His writing has potential. After all, did I mention that it changed my opinion? That of a self proclaimed, proud, extremely critical literary snob? That counts for a lot.
And there you go people…my first ever book review!