“Transmission” by Hari Kunzru

Read in February 2007 (actually on the flight home from India on February 24, 2007).

This is a fast-paced modern technologically savvy story about how we are all connected, whether we like it or not. Kunzru writes authoritatively enough to be a certified geek; nothing even remotely evident to that in his first novel – The Impressionist (see my post about that here). His use of technical terms and connecting complex technical concepts leave the reader questioning how much of his knowledge is research and how much is a hidden geek coming out.

The story also captures a modern view of Bollywood cinema, with one of the three storylines being an up-and-coming Bollywood star. There is a reasonable amount of hinglish thrown into the story as the Indian characters in the story communicate to themselves.

The story has an Indian hacker software getting outsourced into the US as a consultant, the modern-day, financial equivalent of colonialism. As he struggles to make any money at all (between his contract employer taking its large cut of his earnings) he works as a tester at a virus protection company. In company downsizing, he fights hard to keep his job.

The final character is a slick 33 year old London marketeer who lives his life on the edge – whether between his girlfriend, his work, his company, or himself. He is about face adversity from all angles, and is spurned into sinking or swimming – quite literally.

Kunzru’s writing stlye is impeccably youth-oriented and fast-paced. Each major and minor character is described in a way that makes him/her seem realistic and tangible. The story unfolds reasonably quickly, and none of the characters are prone to emotions so Kunzru doesn’t spend a great deal of time talking about feelings – which keeps the story moving. The ending is somewhat unexpected, but the build up to it is quite a treat. Three stories getting cris-crossed and eventually colliding in every reasonable way.

Read The Impressionist first for a high quality historical fictional story. Read this afterwards for an equally high-quality modern-day story. Highly recommended.

Read more about it on Amazon.com.

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