By the time I reached the second page, I was in love with the book. He kept the promise of great writing,” is how renowned author Anita Nair described the book ‘The Householder’. At a recently held book launch, passages from Amitabha Bagchi’s second book, ‘The Householder’, were read out to the audience.
The book traces the relationship between a corrupt personal assistant and a powerful bureaucrat, in a world where access to power sometimes feels like a prerequisite for survival, and where power can be both total and ephemeral. After studying abroad and moving back to India in 2005, the author experienced a lot of frustration dealing with the bureaucrats and he imagined himself getting into their way of life, which led to the main protagonist of the story, Naresh.
In the words of Amitabha , “The story is of an ordinary man you would see going past you on a scooter or travelling in a bus. Its about Naresh Kumar, who is a PA to a corrupt IAS officer and he is a person who handles the dirty dealings for his boss. The book starts with him getting suspended because Naresh and his boss have had some problem with a minister. At the same time, his married daughter is in trouble because she is not able to conceive and his son is involved in some shady dealings.
As a result, this world he has built for himself by being corrupt and taking money, is falling apart. He’s trying to put it together, but he is struggling at the same time.” Anita Nair says about the main character, “Naresh’s corruption doesn’t hit you in the face. He doesn’t kill himself too much over it.”
When we ask the Amitabha on why love and power continue to be fascinating subjects to writers, he says, “This is not about power. Its about powerlessness. As a father, husband and a householder, if you are unable to provide for your family, what goes through your mind? That is what this book is about.” Amitabha says that writing is a journey which he is pursuing and he doesn’t feel any kind of pressure this time, considering that his first book, ‘Above Average’ did well.
It took Amitabha seven months of planning and eleven months of writing to write ‘The Householder’ and he was influenced by Hindi writer Shrilal Shukla and Krishna Sobti for this particular book. He adds, “Writers shouldn’t worry about getting their book published.
They should write what they feel they want to write and then put it out in the market. If people like it, well and good. And if not, that doesn’t mean you are bad. It just means the market is not ready to accept it at that point.”
The author is an assistant professor at IIT Delhi.
His first novel, Above Average, was published in 2007 and became a bestseller.