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Book Review: The Other Guy by Aakash Mehrotra

Who does not like a love story? If one were to judge by the ‘bestseller’ shelves at bookstores, love stories are among the most read books in the country. However, romantic stories of gay love are hard to come across in India. The last gay literature that I remember reading is Hostel Room 131 and Quarantine. The market, however, seems to be growing. Several small and big publishers are coming out to help queer writers publish their works. And the advent of social media has given the movement a fillip it needed.

Akash Mehrotra’s book is an endearing read, because it is a strangely realistic take on a contemporary same-sex relationship. Strange, because the book does not have a tragic ending (which is the case with most queer literature). Realistic because Anuj and Nikhil are relatable in every sense of the term.

If you are gay, reading the book must have brought back memories of your past relationships; it surely did for me. That first crush in college, secret dates, the passionate lovemaking, lying about relationship before your friends, the precious little moments of sweet-nothings – juxtaposed against the sad realities of life.

Love, they say, is blind. The heart does not care for societal taboos or legal conventions when falling for someone. But in a country where homosexuality is considered criminal, ‘forbidden love’ comes with choices that can be life-altering. However, it is the bond of love and longing that survives all odds and lasts us a lifetime.

Akash Mehrotra deserves credit for treating the subject with sensitivity. His simple and lucid writing makes the narrative interesting. India needs more books like ‘The Other Guy’ to break the ceiling, when it comes to mainstreaming of queer literature in India.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

P.S. The review copy of the book was provided by Leadstart Publishing

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