Politics, political subterfuge, political nexus, political patronage, and the politics of a socio-economic drama… these will no longer remain mere words once ‘The Winner’s Curse’ by Dee Walker has been read. Yes, the book can be read fast, but then if you’re too fast you just might have to turn back a few pages and go through the text a trifle slower… such is the power of a writer who has managed to converge intrigue, politics, technology, and ground-level tactical moves in a rather readable way.
Yes, it is actually S V Divvaakar writing this book under his pen name, Dee Walker… and this one is quite different from the one having a similar name and written by Marie Rutkoski. So if you’re searching for details on the book I am reviewing, you just might have to add Dee Walker to the title unless you want to read little passages of an entirely different nature. But such funny coincidences apart, let me just begin by saying the author has a very fiscal-flavoured giggling style throughout the book. I mean even his jokes are the sort that would bring the fastest smiles from the dadas at Dalal Street.
‘See, he has promised to pay “do taka” right?’ the lawyer said.
‘Yes! But “do taka” means two percent, and two percent of fifty million is one million dollars, man!’
‘In the stock market, ‘taka’ means percent. Dotaka means two percent. Ask anyone in India?’
‘In India, but not in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, ‘do taka’ means two Bangladeshi rupees.’
So yes, this is swindling with a lot of flourish, and the book takes a reader into the chromosomal pool of swindling. Yes, there are political parties, power, greed, money, reputations, egos and morals… all of them, like the orphan Harsh, dropping names to get the fastest solutions and then admitting: ‘Everybody drops names in town. I decided to drop pictures. More effective. I even have pre-recorded audio clips, just in case. If you have to lie, do it in the best way.’
The book isn’t a historical treatise on politics and doesn’t take you into the yesteryears at all. This is a tale where you’ll meet fascinating people like the Master, Harsh, Armani, and Rocky… you’ll meet the tantalising schemes that the masses fall for, you’ll meet the dumb and gullible masses, and you’ll meet technology in the garb of fantasy. All this in a contemporary setting… I felt almost as if I am reading a detailed report on something that is happening right now. It is this element of ‘right now’ that attracted me most… and so I loved reading passages on the way electronic cash interacts with the system to cleanse it.
‘It gets better. With funds credited electronically, cash will soon become redundant. Black money will gradually disappear.’
‘What about the black money that’s already in the system?’
‘That stays as it is. Only, there won’t be a fresh creation of cash.’
‘That should take care of the politicians then.’
‘Babuji, once we have broadband-enabled homes connected to a government agency, people should also be able to get their public services – passports, tax refunds, and land registration, everything, everything online. There won’t be a need to queue up anywhere.’
The most exciting parts are those where the contemporary realism of politics and economics are crushed and put in a glass and stirred with a lot of ‘robotics, drones, and bio-parts’ and also quite a large dose of micronics, a miniature world where the unit of measurement is the femto, a millionth of a nano… and as a reader I simply marvelled at the ease with which this word mixologist called Dee Walker did it all.
Another troublesome thing with many authors is the speed with which they begin sermonising or selling some vague concept that they wish to pass on as a philosophy that they have stumbled upon. Almost the way every other channel on the telly says: ‘This is an exclusive brought to you only by us!’ Well, there is no such ludicrous sermonising in this book despite the large chunks of socio-economic and political nuggets that effectively link the story. Yes, in this book it isn’t the story that tries to connect a lot of interesting and diverse thoughts and facts to make it seem one with a lot of depth. It is the other way round. The current flow of political and socio-economic wisdom gets up and aggressively connects the story together. This makes a perceptive reader say, ‘Aha! I know what this concept means and so I think I can hazard a guess as to what the protagonists will try to do next.’ The reader gets involved with the story instead of getting overwhelmed and befuddled by the metaphysics that keeps popping up regularly. So when there was a talk about transparency and privacy, I read what the author wanted to say and then tried to guess what might come next:
The Master spoke again. ‘You wanted transparency. You have it now, but tomorrow some of you might say this is a violation of privacy. Let us admit it: transparency and privacy cannot co-exist. Transparency implies that nothing is hidden from view. If so, what scope can there be for privacy?’
‘And we cannot impose one standard for public servants and another for the public. If an errant public servant must be watched, so must a tax evader, a paedophile, and a wife-beater. We are committed to give you the highest control on public services, which are your rights. In turn, you have to also surrender your privacy to national interest.’
So the way I’d put it is that the book is like a jigsaw puzzle where a reader looks at a piece and says, ‘I know where this piece might fit.’ And then he goes on fitting each bit of wisdom there on the pages and the story reveals itself… yes, exactly like what happens when you’re completing a jigsaw.
Details of the book:
Title: The Winner’s Curse
Author: Dee Walker
Price: Rs 195/- (in 2014)
On Amazon: The Winners Curse…
20 December 2014