Chapter Eleven by Amit Shankar – Book Review
Chapter Eleven is a breezy story that travels from Udaipur to Gurgaon. And looks at the behind the scenes corruption in the Corporate world. Small town to big town transitions has been a subject of many books. But I am not sure if many books have looked at the corporate life. Not the work pressures and stresses that it brings. But the moral decay that it is going through. I think this book makes that beginning somewhere.
The story is simple of a small town guy with a royal lineage and a Godfather from College days moves to Gurgaon to join a big corporation. With all the dreams in his eyes that you can identify with. As luck would have it, the company files for Chapter Eleven or Bankruptcy the day he joins. He goes through the obvious fears. But is always bailed out by his Godfather. At the cost of those who deserved to be with the company. The story tries to tell that when the leaders are only focused on personal gains no matter what it costs the company, the company is bound to collapse. But with it collapse the dreams of many. The livelihood of many who were actually working sincerely and professionally.
While you read the corporate maneuvers of leaders, the protagonist falls in for the charming flatmate. While his wife lives in hometown with his parents. The lady again is in the web of personal-professional relationships like him. And somewhere they both end up being hurt and lost. Then there is a subplot of cyber crime that to me did not look like an integral part of the story. And could have been avoided. When that started I thought there would be a linkage with the main story. But it was nothing more than giving the protagonist one more thing to agonize about.
The story is told at a very superficial level. And I think it could have been taken a few levels deeper. It touches upon small town-big city issues, parent-child issues, man-woman relationship, mentor-mentee relationship. Love hate relationship between co-workers and the world of Banas in feudal Rajputana. But none of them have been explored in depth. The current state of erstwhile royals would have been a good exploration. The impact of mentor on a mentee could have been another very interesting angle. As the protagonist is firmly in the grip of his mentor who knows how to manipulate him. Even after the mentee finds out the conflict between his and his mentor’s thoughts, he still goes on to do what he is told to.
In the end, he does explode. But without really finding out what goes on in a person’s mind when his actions are controlled by someone else. So you get a feeling of watching it from a distance.
A fast breezy read that people in the corporate world would identify with. A good first step to look at corruption in the corporate world and the entangles it creates for those dependent on it…