||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (June 2012)|
|Publisher||Faber & Faber|
|Followed by||The Last Burden|
The book chronicles one year in the life of a trainee civil servant, Agastya Sen, on his first posting-cum-training session to Madna, a 'tiny dot' in the vast Indian hinterland.The book very well depicts the realistic trends in what may be called as grass root administration of a welfare state, that is India, the comedy of errors, the paradoxes involved therein. The protagonist of this novel is surely out of place, but in due course of time, though reluctantly, fits in the scheme of things, initiating him in the vast community of 'brown sahibs' who rule India.
The posting starts off as a tremendous culture shock for Agastya, a city boy. However, it eventually becomes one long philosophical journey and a process of self discovery. Written by a civil servant, the novel manages to capture the essence of an entire generation of Indians, whose urban realities jar in sharp contrast to that of rural India.
Agastya Sen's sense of dislocation is only compounded by his extreme lack of interest in the bizarre ways of government and administration. While his mind is dominated by marijuana, masturbation and the meditations of Marcus Aurelius, images from his previous urban life. His work in Madna would ideally require him to be a devoted servant of the people.