Over the past few years, the Indian literary scene has evidently tipped from Bankim Chandra and Prem Chand to authors who write in a more urban and contemporary style. The country has seen a large increase in books and of course, a new array of writers. Joining the league of Karan Bajaj, Abhijit Bhaduri, Paritosh Uttam and Chetan Bhagat is Ahmed Faiyaz with his two bestsellers, Love, life and all that jazz… and Another Chance.
Faiyaz’s writing style is effective and he portrays a strong love for college life in both of his books. However, in the pursuit of sticking to simple subjects that revolve around friendship, relationships and marriage, he fits his characters into a bubble and shuts himself out of experimenting with the themes in his book. Therefore, his stories tend to become a tad too predictable towards the end.
Faiyaz does strike an impression that makes the reader remember him long after his books have been put down. Still, one wonders why he doesn’t seem to write brashly at times when the book requires it. His characters are a myriad of opposites. On one level, they read Zadie Smith and appreciate Rembrandt and on the other, they call each other names like ‘Peaches’ and ‘sweet loser’. The books are surely set in an urban background but the author writes in a rather ‘safe’ way. Probably, crazier characters running riot in the book would have done the trick – instead, they stick to wearing shades of peach and grey and are as morally rooted as they can be.
Love, life and all that jazz… covers the lives of four twenty-somethings in a world where they love, lose and finally learn from their mistakes. Sameer, Vicky, Tania and Tanveer are four best friends whose lives are surely like a roller-coaster ride (a really long one!) where their strength and faith in each other is tested throughout the book. Faiyaz plays with his characters rather well as they fall in love, fall out of love and finally realize that the latter never happened at all – tried-and-tested indeed but strung together quite well. The book poses a challenge for the author to tie any loose strings at the end since the books charters the lives of four people. He manages to do that perfectly but in the process, does not go beyond the predictable. Interestingly, every chapter starts with a quote taken from people ranging from Confucius to Kurt Cobain to Aldous Huxley.
On the other hand, Another Chance is focussed on the oh-so-‘depressingly gorgeous’ Ruheen who finds her true love amidst a series of mistakes that she commits herself. As if having the mad son of a politician stalk her wasn’t enough, she enters into an abusive marriage, tries dating her best friend and finally ends up where she started from – into the always-open arms of Aditya, “the super intelligent MBA dude”. Faiyaz again displays a keen sense of time and place as his characters travel intensely throughout the book. He keeps track of the dates he mentions and manages to avoid any goof-ups. He does not conform to writing about a bunch of I-don’t-care-teenagers who grow up to be responsible. Instead, he makes sure that his protagonist is aware of how mature and responsible she is and the reader finds her making independent decisions. Do pick this one up if you’re in the mood for some light reading and trust me, this book has a lot more to it than just having Bruna Abdalah (very impressive, by the way) on the cover!
Overall verdict: impressive debut, good follow-up – definitely worth a read.