Arun Joshi's 'The Apprentice'

This is an unusual book by an author that is relatively unknown. I came to know of him through a friend Vinod Ekbote's blog. Part of the reason is that his books are not easily available. I found this book while browsing at Higginbotham's Bangalore. It does not disappoint.

In one fell swoop, this novel takes in the decay of the Indian 'system' of bribery and insensitive administration, and much more than that. The destruction of our 'souls' as it were- there are references to the Bhagavad Gita but also a confession by the protagonist that he understands only a little from it.

I found it riveting, and unusual. The story is that of a freedom-fighter's son, who grows up directionless, and finds a job only to turn into a corrupt spoke in a bigger wheel. He buys sub-standard equipment for the Indian Army, and that becomes the cause of his best friend's death- he is serving in the Army in the Chinese War. There is penitence and an attempt to seek revenge, both non-formulaic.

The style of writing is one of the best I have come across. Must-read for a serious reader.

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