The Householder- Amitabha Bagchi

Updated - July 11, 2016 09:03 pm IST

Published - May 26, 2012 04:59 pm IST

The Householder by Amitabha Bagchi

The Householder by Amitabha Bagchi

Corruption is the central theme of Amitabha Bagchi's new novel, The Householder, and the author raises several important questions about good and evil, exploring the different shades of grey that can sometimes accompany moral questions.

Naresh Kumar, the protagonist of the book, is 'a corrupt PA to a corrupt and powerful Delhi bureaucrat', and has been involved in years of suspect dealings, under the table transactions and missing papers. When we meet him, his career is in jeopardy following a mishandled case, his daughter's in distress due to her failure to conceive a child, and his son is stuck at a dead end call centre job. The book follows Kumar as we see him grapple with the responsibility of holding his family together through corrupt compromises, the self justification and reasoning he employs to validate his actions, and the snowballing of issues as the book moves rapidly ahead. 'This book is about a man who's always prided himself in being a good provider to his family facing a situation where he is stripped off all his capabilities, against a backdrop of an unforgiving social situation where power can be an illusion' says Bagchi. He tackles all forms of corruption in this book, from surreptitiously throwing litter on the ground in absence of a dustbin, to sending a man to jail for a crime he didn't commit, to forging papers and bribing officers. For Naresh, these become survival skills without which his already precarious household will come tumbling down like a pack of cards.

Bagchi refrains from preaching, and lets the story carry itself, leaving the readers to draw from it the lessons that they may. The moral questions percolate as we see the characters racked with self doubt. Bagchi succeeds in keeping the story solidly grounded in reality. The characters remain believable, middle class delhi residents who believe in the primacy of power.

The brand of corruption that Bagchi deals with comes in different packages, and the questions he raises refuse to go away. Ther is a sort of vulnerability as well as dogged persistance in his characters, and the protagonist refuses to be categorised at only bad. There is corruption in the form of self liberation, in the name of holding a family together, and in the name of accumulating power for security.

Amitabha Bagchi's first book, Above Average, was published in 2007 and instantly became a bestseller. The householder, his second novel, promises to break new grounds and bring him further acclaim as a writer.

The Householder Publisher- Harper Collins India Price- Rs. 399

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