S.V. Divvaakar’s first offering as an author, “The Winner’s Price” landed in my hands a few months back. It was in its proof reading phase and almost ready to go into print when I came in contact with the author who asked me for my opinion for the purpose of diversity of opinion. My perspective would be of an Indian born in India but raised abroad! How do I relate to the story being narrated? I went in with an open mind and heart and was not disappointed at all – “The Winner’s Price” is a complete India experience. For someone who is living outside India, I would say, if you ever wondered what back-pack travel across India would be like; this book provides a literary version of it! Actually, I would say that to even those living in India that if a back-pack-across-India is in your bucket list, this is a good beginning.
With this book as a medium, the author addresses some of the hot issues of today – corruption, iron ore and tender scams, internet monitoring and privacy regulations. This is factual and will appeal to the professional and business readership.
Chronologically spanning across the 80s to the present, this book is a time-capsule of sorts. It provides the reader with the understanding of the socio-political evolution of Indian culture from the perspective of IITians. For the readers who are familiar with the Ayn Rand writings, you will certainly see a Rand-esque quality in this story. Full of purpose driven and focused characters (not surprising because the group is a highly accomplished IIT batch), “The Winner’s Price” narrates the story of a group of friends belonging to the same graduating class who come together for a school reunion. It chronicles a group of men and women who venture out of the walls of one of the best educational institutes in the world. Armed with their degrees, bright intellect, and their personal ambitions, further fueled by their IIT degrees, the group stands the test of the system of India. The reader will note a significant divide in ethics and life approach of the IITians and the rest of the characters. I personally adhered to the point-of-view of the main characters.
The first few chapters introduce the reader to the group of main characters and their background before the come together for the reunion. Where they have been since the graduation? What they have achieved or lost? How the “real world” has affected them? What they will be bringing to the table as the story evolves and their worlds collide once again? As the story progresses, the journey through vast landscape of cultural and geographical India begins. Characters intermingle and their core-values are tested, motives are revealed, only to face a verdict unimaginable.
This journey of handful of IITians is not a by any means a didactic dialogue; in fact the author has not shied away from painting his characters in the most human characteristics. A pragmatic set of men and women who are only looking at the bird’s eye and if it means deviating from norm and/or bending the rules, so be it!
The ending of the story is very symbolic. Although it satisfactorily culminates the events, it leaves a lot of room for the reader to play with their own imagination and run with it long after the novel is finished!
Also, the author will be touring U.S. this coming summer and you may run into him at your local bookstore. Stop by and say hello!