BOOK REVIEW: THE BAD BOYS OF BOKARO JAIL
You may have read stacks and stacks of novels based inside prisons but, have you ever read a novel about an author’s time inside one? The chances are slim at best. The Bad Boys Of Bokaro Jail is one such story and a riveting one at that.
The book is a first person narrative of author Chetan Mahajan’s experiences inside Bokaro jail and most of it was written inside the prison’s four walls... by hand. How he got there and what he was arrested for are both things that are just a Google search away but, don’t do it!
In fact, I would suggest you read nothing about Chetan Mahajan, before you start reading this book. If possible, resist the temptation to even read the back cover. Simply open the book and dive in and you will feel like you are prying on someone’s diary – a forbidden act that is tempting to all.
Wondering why I would say that? Well, the thing is the charm of reading a book is to plough forward not knowing what happens in the end and if you’re aware of what happened to the author in real life, you’re not going to enjoy the book half as much as you could have.
Mahajan’s writing is simple, precise and his thoughts well articulated. Not once did it have me reaching for the dictionary and unlike other books that achieve that, it is not at the cost of flair or flavour. The book is an intimate and intricate account of all that goes on inside India’s prison system.
While there are things that you expect the protagonist to go through, there is also a perpetual feeling of uneasiness and fear. While reading this book, you are as uncertain of what will happen next, as Mahajan must have been while in there.
How a city bred, suit donning, corporate hotshot ended up in prison and how he acclimatises to the harsh world within makes for quite a story! There is an uneasy slow down in terms of events half-way through the book; a phase where nothing seems to be happening.
That however, makes you wonder how fidgety the author must have felt during those times. As I told myself the narrative had slowed down I had the unnerving realisation that what I was experiencing as a horrifying tale of ups and downs actually happened to this man.
I bought the book during a small workshop the author took as part of the Noir Literature Festival in New Delhi and boy has it been a fun read. If you enjoy reading indie authors this man should be on your list. You can visit Chetan Mahajan’s blog or connect with him via twitter.
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