February 26, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'Johnny gone down' by Karan Bajaj

 Meet Nikhil Arya. Just graduated from MIT and with an offer from NASA, he and his friend decide to take an impulsive trip to Cambodia, only to find the trip change his life in a way, he could never have imagined. From Cambodia, the protagonist Nikhil aka Saint Khimchu aka Nick aka Johnny, travels to Thailand and then to Rio de Janerio and from there to Minnesota before finally arriving at New Delhi in a train where the story is narrated in a flashback mode as he plays Russian roulette (the most interesting setting for a flashback I have ever seen)

Throughout his journey, Johnny experiences some really peculiar experiences. His transition is indeed touching for the reader. The experience in Cambodia leaves him without a hand and in Rio de Janerio, he has close encounters with the Brazilian mafia. The author uses his vast travel experiences to bring forth cultural influences on the protagonist, who emerges as a survivor, no matter how many challenges life throws at him. In that sense, the story has a moral bearing too. All the characters in the protagonist’s life; from his friend, Sam to his girlfriend and wife, Lara are charmed by his short-presence in their lives. And yes, their impact on Johnny too has been phenomenal. The reader can sense the change in Johnny’s heart, his emotions and his outlook as the story moves on. Towards the middle of the story, you start feeling a strong connect with this memorable character.

This is Bajaj’s second book and way better, than his first. You can literally see the practicality of the experience curve, that is if you have read ‘Keep off the grass’ (his first novel). This one doesn’t disappoint though I know this book too has had its fair share of critics. The story is gripping and you have to force yourself to hold your bladder alongwith the book while nature keeps ringing the bell. The book has already created a record of sorts, with a first print run of about 50000 copies and now the second edition is already in stores. The literati types may not exactly snuggle upto this one but mass readers like me, will surely form a good opinion of Bajaj’s second novel. The book is simply unputdownable and at the end of the story, you end up wishing that it never ended! If you still haven’t read it, what are you waiting for? It has the official Faraaz Kazi stamp on it now. I give it a 4.7/5!

Get it from Flipkart.



Ben said...

Agreed Faraaz, I loved the book as well for its 'Out of the box' thinking.

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