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Book Review: The Journey Of Om

Book Review: The Journey Of Om

August 05, 2010

A look at debutante author Chandru Bhojwani’s book that connects on many levels.

Where do you slot a book like ‘The Journey Of Om’? It’s all about love, the falling in part, and the falling out part and yet it’s not exactly a love story. It’s about three friends who stick together through the highs and lows of their often-tumultuous lives and yet it’s not a book that is just about friendship. It’s about Desis living out their lives as it happens in the expatriate locations of America and Hong Kong and yet it’s not all about the foreign-born confused Desi struggling to come to terms with their ‘Indian’-ness.

The story that Chandru Bhojwani weaves in ‘The journey of Om’ is all that and much, more. The story begins as the title character Om finds himself being cheated on by Preeti, the love of his life. What ensues is Om’s journey to climb out of the abyss he descends into with this betrayal. The story tracks his journey of self-discovery as he tries to regain emotional stability. To help him come to terms with his loss, Om turns to two of his closest friends, Arun and Mona. What he doesn’t count on, however, is how quickly the role of being a supportive friend is reversed.

The writing is simple and not overly flowery. The narrative switches from the past to the present and back many a time, yet it does not spoil the pace. Om is well fleshed out and the reader gets to know him from the multiple perspectives of him and his friends. The reader sympathizes with him and then flinches at his hypersensitivity. Even then, Om remains a very real character that one can relate to. Of the supporting characters, Mona’s story is well told. One wishes that Jim had been given a little more space in the book as somehow it is hard to reconcile his character’s actions with his personality as described. Monica, while a thoroughly enjoyable character, is a little too stereotypical for me. Though her dialogues are top-notch, she is everything that you would expect a cutthroat publishing executive or a magazine editor to be. The author’s characterization of the Sindhi community in Hong Kong is a little too dark and harsh for my taste. I would have preferred a shades of grey.

The most inspired pieces of writing in ‘The journey of Om’ are the columns that Om writes for the magazine. Carrie Bradshaw-esque in style, and with a very male take on the opposite gender, relationships and even the foibles of the NRI community. The column on ‘Aunties’ is one that many of us would be able to relate to. Without giving away too much of the plot, the one thing I can reveal about the conclusion is that it is an open one. Now though I generally like books to have a resolution, tied up neatly with a bow, I cannot see the ending of ‘The Journey of Om’ in any other way but this. After all, in the journey of life there are no fixed destinations or picture-perfect endings and this is what the conclusion reflects.

Born in Nigeria and brought up between Nigeria, UK and India, Chandru Bhojwani has told this NRI tale with aplomb. The book betrays none of the awkwardness that you might expect from a first time writer. And while ‘The Journey of Om’ might not make it’s way to your well-thumbed favourites just yet, the author will certainly make it to your ‘Indian authors to watch out for’ list.

The Journey Of Om (Cedar books / Pustak Mahal) is available in all leading bookstores and from the publisher’s site.


3 Comments

  • Ragni Ved
    By
    Ragni Ved
    05.08.10 11:19 PM
    'The Journey of Om' has a peculiar feature..It makes you stop and think two things - one 'Oh god i have felt just like that before' and two 'Yaaay other people feel it too..thankgod it is NORMAL !'.. Like an innocent child OM lets you in to his darkest secrets - emotions that 'grown ups' cleverly hide to appear balanced...as the reader identifies with Om's frustration, feels excited for his hot date, feels triumphwhen he schools Ravi and feels helpless when he goes back to the dark place, he realizes that the dark night always ends just as it does for Om!
    OM's conscious efforts to get out of the 'spot' are brilliant for anyone who is stuck there...I am going to recommend this book to anyone who has truly been in love or anyone who needs sound help to get over a heartbreak!
  • Deepa Asnani
    By
    Deepa Asnani
    05.08.10 09:52 PM
    If there is a simple, yet compelling way to tell a story about complex human relationships, this is it. Through effective narration of every day life events, 'The Journey of Om' unfolds an intricate plot and a powerful world of emotions so effortlessly, it feels unintentional.

    The gentle pace and build of the story is delectable. The authors' ability to empathise is contagious and makes 'The Journey of Om' essentially everyone’s story.

    With so much to relate to, you’ll be excited about the next chapter before the one you’re on ends.
  • Amit Butani
    By
    Amit Butani
    05.08.10 09:50 PM
    Chandru Bhojwani's debut novel is well written, witty, charming & thoroughly enjoyable.

    Although the main plot of the novel is focused on the main character Om, it is the difficulties facing his closest friends that really adds substance to this novel. At first glance, it seems like another story of love lost and heart break; however there is more to the story than that.

    The interaction between Om and his friends is very entertaining and the author has done well to keep the book moving along despite the trials and tribulations facing a number of the characters. The settings are well described and easy for any reader to imagine themselves as part of the scene.

    The Journey of Om, while at times tragic, is a captivating novel. The author does a wonderful job of mixing tragedy with wit & humour.

    A very impressive debut novel and certainly looking forward to the next book by Chandru Bhojwani.

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