The Winner’s Curse is a political thriller penned by the author of Beaten by Bhagath, Dee Walker – the pen name of SV Divvaakar. Very different from Bhagath, this book deals with the big bad world of politics, the murky deals behind closed doors, the bureaucratic corruption and the insatiable competitive urge of the corporate world.
The ruling party in power at the Centre in India launches a massive project Jan Shakti – a unique ID for every Indian resident (rings a bell?). This is a huge game changer for politics in India and is slated to tilt the balance in favour for ruling party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
There is just a small glitch in the process – Jan Shakti is not just a unique ID programme, it is the biggest surveillance programmer launched ever that will snoop (sorry Saheb ji winks) on every Indian. Add to it some spice involving corruption, an ex-IITian turned anti-corruption crusader (now who that could be?), competition between telecom companies – The Winner’s Curse has the perfect masala for a Bollywood potboiler.
It is evident from the first chapter itself that the writer has heavily borrowed from the recent political history of India to weave a narrative that could well have some semblance in reality. The characters are well-sketched and the Ten Commandments of the IIT well used. The initial build-up of the plot eggs the reader to keep turning the pages. Somewhere after 150 odd pages the steam slacks a bit.
There are too many sub-plots in the story, something that distracts the attention of the reader from the ‘Holy Grail’ of the book – the Jan Shakti conundrum. The narrative moves between the past and the present but transitions are smooth; the author is in full control of the plot, despite the digressions. The novel could have been crisper if the flabs had been edited out.
Overall, The Winner’s Curse is a good read on a long train journey or a lazy winter afternoon. I thank the author for the signed copy of the book. I would also like to apologise to Yatin Gupta for the late review.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
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