The publishing industry, especially in India, is one that is fraught with uncertainty. Which book will be accepted? Which will go through the process? Which will be a success? Nobody knows. Not even the people who back them. But when things do click and books become blockbuster hits, there’s no looking back for the author as well as the publishing houses. Because isn’t it what every book-related person lives for? Isn’t it a dream to write, and help a book become a bestseller?
While we have read the stories that succeeded, we haven’t gotten to read the stories behind these stories. Ahmed Faiyaz’s Bestseller talks about these, in a funny, satirical fashion that is sure to elicit at least a few laughs as you read through it.
Bestseller is the story of Akshay Mathur, an editor who has been shunted down from London to a formerly-flourishing, now-obscure publishing house in India, all thanks to his languishing credit score. With the help of a few people, he has to turn the fortune of this publishing house around. And this isn’t without its own share of problems. There are more than enough people looking for a quick step up, those who think they are righteously angry when rejected. Then there are those who, in the media limelight, think they actually own the limelight. There are the truthful and the boastful, the righteous and the nasty, the polite and the unsavoury.
Basically, Akshay has to try and push some sense into the heads of those who don’t want to see it. But what will he do when people just don’t want to acknowledge common sense? Can he try and bring some semblance of order to the business that threatens to crash and burn? Will he succeed or will he remain as the man who tried – forms the rest of the story.
While Bestseller is a satire about the Indian publishing industry, it is by no means soothing. In the sense that as you read the story, there’s this dread creeping up on you that whispers to you that maybe, maybe all that the author is saying is true. And then that other part of your mind whispers back, “it might not be true. It’s fiction.” To which the response goes, “Yeah, but it’s a satire.” At which point you just want to rip your hair out at the number of times your mind is saying ‘satire’.
Bestseller tries to balance all the points of view. For example, there’s this quote: People can watch movies to relax and unwind. Books serve a higher purpose. On a higher level, it could make sense. But there’s also the fact that so many people read to get entertained, not just to get enlightened. So while this quote might look like it is stereotyping books, the story that follows it doesn’t. And it so happens that the book as a whole, impressively balances both perspectives.
There are a lot of things that the book tries to put out there. It tells you that things work out and things don’t. That in the end, you should be taking everything with a grain of salt. That there are things in life – just like in this book – that will infuriate you but you need to stay calm. That there are more things than those in life that will make you laugh – just like the instances in this book. Most of all, Bestseller is easy-to-read, is a laugh riot, and is a book that you can pick at leisure and enjoy.
Bestseller can be classified as informative literature that educates through comic prose. It is a great take on how the Indian publishing industry works and while much of it might be fiction, staying informed of even those sections will be helpful for those who are trying to break into the business.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Picture Courtesy: Amazon India
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Here’s the link: Bestseller