“And mate, you get this done and I can convince Dad about literary eBooks imprint you wanted to start up with us. I feel its a real possibility for you to move back to London and lead this new project in a year, but only if……”
Bestseller (2018) is a book written about the lesser-known courtyards of publishing houses and all the hullabaloo that happens in publishing a bestseller. The bestsellers in the story are not similar to the usual ones. These bestsellers have to come from a once glorious, now famished Kalim publishing house and that too, five bestseller in one year. The conclusion of this deal is the return ticket of debt-ridden and an out-of-work editor, Akshay Mathur. Will he be able to produce 5 bestseller in a year and be able to go back to London? The excitement, thrill, humour, and insane turn of events will keep you glued.
About the author
Ahmed Faiyaz is the bestselling author of books like Love, Life and All that Jazz….., Another Chance, Scammed and the editor of Urban Shots. He was born and raised in Bengaluru. Apart from being a passionate writer, he dabbles with film-making and travels to lesser-known destinations to better understand life and the times we live in. He lives and works in Dubai now.
The characters and the plot
Akshay Mathur is the principal character of the novel, and he narrates the story. He is 34, divorced, a failed writer and out-of-work editor of a now defunct Metro magazine. He is deep in debt and to return to London; he has to revive the once glorious publishing house, Kalim Publishing House owned by Iqbal Kalim. A friend from Cambridge, Angus Lee had gotten him this job, but the condition is that he has to deliver five bestsellers within a year. He is accompanied by worthless employees, Sita, the receptionist, and Mr. Samuel who comes to the office to read the newspaper. On his first day at work, the owner of Kalim, Iqbal Kalim dies in office giving some additional troubles and deep gazes for Akshay Mathur but it is also a relief for Akshay as he will have a free hand in working and reviving the firm. Iqbal’s daughter, Zorah Kalim joins him who is a publicist and as the heavens would have it, Akshay falls in love with Zorah and they move in together. The love story of Akshay and Zorah perfectly complements the humour and tragedies in the story.
Then there is one very interesting character in the book, Tarun who was earlier in the sales division and Akshay doesn’t quite affirm Tarun being his boss who does not understand about publishing.
“Forget all that yaar! We need books that sell”, Tarun said. Zorah watched on with an amused look on her face as Tarun and I sqaured off. What are we into? Selling shampoo and dog biscuits?
Faiyaz writes the most humorous parts of the story in italics after every conversation, which Akshay thinks in his head and they are enjoyable. Another humorous thing in the book is its characters. Characters like Roshan Khan and Sudhir, who are just too desperate to get their books published without focusing even an ounce of attention towards content and quality of the book. Roshan Khan is a narcissist Bollywood star who is too high to understand reality.
“Hope the changes made to the book are going well” Roshan Khan said. You mean your narcissist propaganda.
“Yes, I am spicing it up.”
Sudhir is one interesting character who has written a book that is Independence Day-meets-Armageddon-meets-Star Wars-meet-Gladiator novel and claims as his original masterpiece. He thinks his book is the best book ever written and living in that bubble, he orders for 25,000 copies of his book and he is the trouble maker all the way. Then there is a veteran author famous for his books for children, Vinod Dutta who is coming up with some erotic stories which are inspired from his life. Scandalous! On the top of it, he goes into coma leaving Akshay in dilemma. Then there is Aanya who seemed like an odd character maybe she is meant to be. She doesn’t know what she is doing; She is doing it all for publicity, all to remain in the public light and her moral compass and writing acumen? Ah, don’t ask. Perhaps her character takes a dig on all the new women writers who take an easy route to success or maybe it was more of gender stereotype, can’t really say.
The rest of the story is a follow up of whether Akshay Mathur can give five bestsellers in a year?
The critical view
I liked the premise of the book, set in the lesser-known world of publishing, and it gives deep insights into the scandals in the publishing business. The story could be well adapted into a Bollywood movie, instead of Sudhir’s boring rehash of various worlds. The characters are of all sorts, the talented yet wasted Akshay Mathur who works relentlessly to turn his career around and Zorah who is a woman with an independent will and beaming with confidence. I particularly loved her thoughts when she warned Akshay to do something of purpose, print books of value, something which displays the legacy of Kalim Publishing house, a legacy that his father has left. Though she did not share a cordial relationship with her father, she wants Kalim to succeed. She is a fierce lover, protective of Akshay and quite the jealous one.
Using punch lines in the book come at the right time. Like this one
“What an awesome publicity! You’re my best buddy”, Roshan Khan said and hugged me. Okay get off me. What are we, in high school?
I feel like Sudhir’s character is overstretched and there could have been a better character introduced in his place, someone wittier and devoid of all the scams. Yes, there were some beautiful characters in the book, but they have been given little space. I wanted more of Akshay and Zorah, they seem like a nice couple. The characters in the book are inspired from the real world and others from the author’s life. He has blended all the traits meticulously. The people have been chosen from all walks of life, film business, politics, corporate, social work, etc and blended beautifully in the book. The book can be finished in one go and is quite a no-brainer, easy read. The best thing about the book is its length. It is perfectly sized, neither too small to leave no space for character development and nor too lengthy to lose its humor. I loved the vibrant book cover, which includes some characters from the book.
Overall, I liked the book and would recommend you to read it.
We received this as a review copy, and we thank for the book.
Happy reading 🙂