(Originally published in the Indian Blog World, October 2009)
IITians penning books is not news anymore; we have several of them techies joining the fold of the wordsmiths, but not many of the books have a readability that belies the hue of a techie-author.
Farahad Zama is one of those techies who have been around in the software field since some time, starting his software job at a period when the boom was not on, and settled abroad after his IIT stint. But he has made it to the top charts by his writing style and an unusual premise that has not been handled too much. Zama takes on Jane Austen’s theme of expectations in relationships based on assumptions and social ranking in his debut novel “The Marriage Bureau for Rich People”.
Farahad said in an interview that he had penned this work during a long commute to and from work, and did it to relieve stress from a change in job from managing computer programs to managing people, which he didn’t like much. But the book proves he knows how to manage his characters very well.
His characterization skills are brilliant, especially those of Mrs. Ali and Aruna which are actually lower in hierarchy of the people he presents in the novel. Mr.Ali, a retired man from Vizag, which is Zama’s own home town, is the protagonist. He looks for a job to do from home which would bring him some money as well as pass time, and he opens this Marriage Bureau for Rich People. Aruna, a girl from a poor background who doesn’t get married because of lack of money, is the assistant he hires and the story is weaved round these people and their daily travails. Ali has a son who is a rebel, and the young people in the story naturally get connected. The story of the clients of the marriage bureau also becomes interesting sub-plots.
The pace is just right, and we comfortably ride along the suburban life picturised in effortless words from the writer. In fact Aruna became such a favourite that Zama has penned a sequel.
The book has been well received every where. It was released initially in the U.K. and became a success. It is also being translated into European languages like French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. The rights to the first book has been sold in seven countries like US (Penguin), Spain, France, Sweden, Italy, Germany and Holland with more to be confirmed.
Marriage Bureau is a great read for a rainy afternoon, curled up on your window and a bag of pop-corns near-by.