ABOVE AVERAGE is way above average
Somewhere in this heart wrenching tale of a collective failure called the society, Amitabh Bagchi makes ‘Arindam Chatterjee’ narrate thus “Everyone lies. More than pointing out the lie to the person, it is important to know if he himself believes in the lie or not’. This statement more or less defines the multiple stories that ‘Above Average’ manages to create in a completely non linear narrative. In a complete contrast from the low on philosophy – Chetan Bhagat genre of mindless and clichéd college romance, Above Average is a solid and well researched account of a person who just like the book itself, learns to see the big picture with every step that he takes.
Above average is an important book. Arindam Chatterjee’s neighbours and friends go on to represent all of India, not from a region or religion based point of view, but from the point of view of internal philosophy. Each character in the book is in the process of recognizing his true wants and that is precisely where today’s Indian youngsters need to head towards – To be clear in one’s own head, what one is wanting.
What makes the book beautiful is Bagchi’s effortless shifts from one timeframe to another, from narration to prose, from gut wrenching to rib tickling. The writing style is unique and in a surprising salute, Bagchi takes an extra effort to tell us about how Amitav Ghosh’s ‘The Shadow Lines’ inspires the non linearity of ‘Above Average’
Arindam Chatterjee’s story is not his. It is the story of Bobby – from the lesser approved part of the society, his lies and his love. It is the story of Winky and Bhavna and their young adventures lives that ends with murder and suicide. It is the story of Bagga and his extremely typical IIT dreams that almost typically vanish one day. It is the story of Sheiku and Neeraj – two raw talents in computer science who have a common dream and go different ways, yet neither wanting anything lesser than before. It is the story of Arindam’s touching stories of friendship with both these men. It is a struggling rock-surd’s story. It is a disdainful Karthik’s story. It is the story of short lived romance and moving on. It is the story of a young Chandana who loses her life to Indian drunk mindlessness.
Above average is a book that should not be missed. It comes from a rare breed of Indian campus story writers who take time to look at the big picture