Resident Dormitus: Book Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Resident Dormitus is a novel written by an Indian author Vikas Rathi, an IIM-B graduate. It was published in July 2011. It falls under the genre of fiction with theme based on existentialism. It has a fictional storyline with characters and events which appear so familiar, laced with dark humor which makes you introspect more than it makes you laugh, and all the time, probes you to find answer to questions unasked.

When I received this book, I was intrigued by its peculiar title, as to what did it mean. While reading this novel, I came across the significance behind this coined title. The title ‘Resident Dormitus’, as described by the author, signifies the dormant thoughts that reside within a human. One of the characters in the novel, Dev, narrates the incident of how a slave boy was able to see the solution of a geometrical problem which he hadn’t known even existed. This incident signifies that the knowledge is resident is all of us yet we don’t realize it as we don’t probe hard enough to surface our dormant thoughts. Like the title, the central character has a peculiar name ‘Achet’ which signifies someone who has been sleeping for a long time.

The story revolves around the central character in novel, Achet. He hails from a small town, Jaipur. He is fresh out of college and has landed up in Mumbai with a job in a company where he had worked as an intern last summer. He holds a self-centric view of the world, at the most feigning a little interest in what’s going on around in lives of others. He comes across a few people like Dev, Arjuna, Alex and Bala in his corporate circle, each one of them bringing a different perspective into play and hence, having an effect on his thinking. His work takes him to Singapore and then Malaysia, and in this process, he begins the journey of self-discovery, the journey by which he tries to find happiness in the pursuit of meaning, the journey to trigger the dormant thoughts residing in him, the journey that shall ‘wake’ him up.

Apart from the central plot of existential crisis faced by Achet, there are the sub-plots of other characters. Dev, unlike Achet, has had to struggle in his life so far to gain appreciation of even his near ones. But he considers this job as an opportunity to prove to the world his worth and harbors the ambition to reach the topmost position in company. Arjuna, a Sri-Lankan immigrant to Australia, unlike Dev, was content with mediocrity and didn’t think too much about career. He was more concerned with how he could help the Tamils in his country fight for independence. Alex, an Australian but born in Greece, was focused on his career so that he could get a chance to get posted to Greece to find about his origins. Bala was infamous in her company for having loose morals in past, struggling in the present to find a balanced life and settle down.

The author has made use of dark humor very well to make even the mundane events in corporate life appear more interesting with unexpected actions of the narrator and his random thoughts which may actually not appear random on second thoughts. At instances, the story touches the philosophical questions like what is love, how do we find the meaning of our lives, are we happy with the way we have turned up. However, the uniqueness of the novel is in that it doesn’t try to give you an answer, rather it probes you to think about it.

Overall, I find the novel to be a very interesting read. I feel that young working professionals who have just began their journey at the bottom of the corporate ladder who read this novel would feel as if the author is telling a very relatable story through the character of Achet.

To know more about this book, visit this link which contain excerpts from the book and find out yourself if you find it interesting enough to place an order.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Book review of Chanakya’s Chant

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Chanakya’s Chant is a novel written by Indian author Ashwin Sanghi and published in 2010. It reached #1 on India Today’s bestseller list on April 4, 2011. The novel falls under the historical thriller category. It retells the story of Chanakya, who is considered as India’s greatest strategist, whose strategic plans and pragmatic cunningness leads his trainee Chandragupta Maurya to become the emperor of Magadha and also establishment of the mighty Mauryan Empire. Apart from retelling this historical fiction in a colloquial manner, the author also tells the fictional tale of a Brahmin from Kanpur, Pandit Gangasagar Mishra, who decides to mentor a little girl from Kanpur’s slums, Chandini Gupta,  and orchestrate the moves of her life to make her the most powerful  person in India i.e. Prime Minister of India.

The theme of this novel is based on demonstrating pure human emotions like Revenge and Ambition. The emotions like Love are shown to be manipulated to be used as a means to achieve power and one’s ambition. The novel is divided into 20 chapters and it alternates between the historical tale of Chanakya and the modern tale of Pandit Gangasagar Mishra. This style of writing is used to emphasize the parallels that exist between the two tales and convey to the reader that not much has changed in human’s nature, even after a few thousand years. Venality, Lust, Ambitiousness, Deceitfulness – these are some of the basic human nature qualities which haven’t changed over the thousand years. Both the strategists in this novel, Chanakya and Gangasagar, don’t try to define moral standards and believed that their action was right as long as it was leading them towards their goal. A common strategy is followed by both of them: “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese”.  Chanakya allowed others to fight over to ascend to the throne of an empire, and then struck when both the armies were depleted after the fight to take away the ‘cheese’. Similarly, Gangasagar always maintained leverage over his opponents by keeping track of their not-so-honorable deeds driven by greed or sexual urges.

The novel is fast-paced and like a true thriller keeps the reader interested most of the time. However, alternating chapters of two parallel tracks may not suit all readers who may sometimes wish to finish reading one track completely. The style of narration is colloquial and witty.  The novel could be said to be of narrative style rather than descriptive style. The story is developed based on exchange of dialogues between the characters, rather than the soliloquy style where the insights and thinking of the characters are used to develop the story.  The author has avoided trying to describe in details the settings in which the characters exchanged dialogues and the conversations were given more importance, and rightly so.

As a thriller novel, it offers enough suspense and with a good narrative style, this novel proves to be a good read. I would recommend this to readers who like mythological fiction or who would like to know the cunning tricks politicians play in modern India.

Here’s a youtube video trailer of this novel.

You can order this book from Flipkart.

This was my first attempt at writing a book review. Hope it made some sense! This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!