Chetan’s second call

Chetan BhagatAUTHOR Chetan Bhagat, whose first book Five-Point Someone on IIT underdogs was a runaway bestseller last year, is ready with his second book on the hot and happening topic of BPOs.

To be released by Rupa next month, One Night @ The Call Center is already trendily shortened to ON@TCC.

"If you scratch the surface, the call centre phenomenon has some dark shades to it. However, ON@TCC is pure entertainment. The dark messages come every now and then, but mostly readers should get ready for a fun night," Bhagat told IANS in an e-mail interview.

Bhagat, who grew up in Delhi, attended Army Public School and graduated from IIT, Delhi, and IIM, Ahmedabad, says: "ON@TCC is a story of six people in a call centre during one night. There are three main themes — ex-girlfriend, bad boss and, well, God." Is it only for call centre people then? "No, not at all," the not-yet-30 author says. "Just as my last book, the story is universal. The call centre is just an interesting setting.

ON@TCC comes in the humour category with dark undertones. Like the previous book, the book has a fast-paced, thriller feel to it."

What was challenging about writing his second book? "To set the story in one night. How can you have a novel set in an 11-hour period? However, once done, it becomes the main highlight of the story."

"Another challenge was that there are three female characters this time. Understanding one woman is hard enough, so you can imagine what happened to me when I tried to understand three at a time," says Bhagat in a lighter note.

Bhagat, who is working in an investment bank in Hong Kong, won the Society Young Achiever’s award in 2004. — IANS

Novel outbreak

Narayan Wagle
Narayan Wagle

A Nepali newspaper editor, who is a critic of King Gyanendra’s government, has become the country’s new literary icon with his best-selling debut novel that chronicles the fate of people caught between the Maoist insurgents and the security forces.

Palpasa Caf`E9, a novel by Narayan Wagle that hit the stalls last month, is the first work of fiction inspired by the nine-year-old communist insurgency that has claimed over 12,000 lives and resulted in the disappearance of thousands.

So far the Maoist movement seeking to overthrow Nepal’s constitutional monarchy and establish a communist republic has inspired only non-fiction by Nepali authors.

Fiction writers have chosen to write about the pro-democracy movement in 1990 that clipped the absolute power of the palace and installed a multi-party system of government with constitutional monarchy.

But except for poets, established authors have chosen to avoid the topic of insurgency except for the odd short story and a lone film that ran into difficulties with the censor board.

Palpasa Caf`E9 is the story of a painter, Drishya, who dreams of opening an Internet caf`E9-cum-gallery-cum-resort in the mountainous western region, one of the worst affected by the insurgency.

However, his travels in the region, much of it a Maoist stronghold, make him a suspect in the eyes of the security forces and soon after his arrival in the capital, Drishya "disappears".

The plot, Wagle says, was inspired by the hundreds of incidents he heard in the news room of Kantipur, Nepal’s biggest daily, that he has been heading since November 2003.

"Ten people killed — this sort of occurrence has became commonplace," he said. "But news reports do not go beyond facts and figures. I wanted to delve into the aspiration, psychology and emotion of the people involved, the innocent civilians caught between the Maoists and the security forces."

Palpasa Caf`E9 created a record when the first edition — consisting of 5,000 copies — sold out in less than a month, making it one of the bestsellers in the post-1990 period.

Last Monday, it was named the recipient of a prestigious literary award, the Madan Puraskar, instituted by the widow of a former general.

But while Wagle has been receiving bouquets from the people, his relations have been less than cordial with the government.

Since February, the 37-year-old has been summoned thrice by the administration and warned over articles published in Kantipur. But Wagle is unfazed. — IANS