I’ve never had to write and erase the opening lines of any book’s reviews, so many times, ever before as I had to do with this one. So I’ll rather go for a one-line summary of my review, and in support of it, I’d rather narrate my own reading experience of the book than anything else: and let readers be the judge!
The one-line summary:
Good, but too much story; terrible execution; hazy storyline; the amount of dialogues and narratives should’ve been interchanged!
It’s undeniable that comedy is the most untapped genre in Indian contemporary novel-writing, one with tremendously high potential, and terribly low supply! The best we usually see is one or two situationally funny scenes or a couple of witty one-liners in otherwise non-comic novels.
But in a scenario so bleak, the entry of ‘Go Clown’ is very not the “#AccheDin for Comedy”, as the subtitle claims. Trying to fill in the gap completely, spreading itself too wide (both figuratively and, page-wise, literally), it fails to make any impact at all!
The element of satire is indeed abundant in the novel. For the most part, the author Shatrugna Vadwlas does identify his targets very well- the pretentious accents of NRIs and their desperation to ‘blend in’ into the mainstream American society, the synthetic, forced hierarchies in the Indian engineering colleges, the ‘stupid’ ways the Indian politicians manage the administrative duties and portfolios, to name a few. But he mostly fails to bring out a real laugh by his barbs at the ‘issues’ he picked, for various faults of his own.
First of all, he seemed to be on a personal comic vendetta against each and everything about India- the politics, the society and its workings, the advent of internet and its uses by engineering college students, the lives of NRIs, the weed smoked: he seemed to be armed with something stinging, and witty to him, against everything he touched in his book.
Yes, the act attempted to be clownish- for clowns do indeed try to make fun of as many things and people as they can- but clowns are indeed funny while they do it, while the book was not. Period.
Secondly, the book is a too-long, overstretched descriptive essay of whatever Kiriti- “the Clown”, the protagonist (which, by the way, the author never made clear) – found funny; instead of scenic progression that we usually see in novels.
The story is hardly shown- it’s narrated; in long, complicated and often unnecessarily drawn out sentences and paragraphs, making the potentially interesting and engaging comic insights outright “boring”.
Thirdly, it’s very irritating to see “Andhra Pradesh” and “Telugu” replaced by “Tandra Pradesh” and “Melugu”, for no apparent reason. The book has no apparent joke that demands that kind of replacement- neither in content nor in the brilliance of the humor. So what’s the point, when you’re indeed representing Orissa, Kolkata with the real names??
Fourthly, it’s kinda anti-climactic; that all through the novel the author, and the protagonist, makes fun of all that is Indian, and nearing the end, one of his last acts is to save his ‘reincarnated’ best friend!!
All-in-all, it was a brilliant idea, gone horribly wrong, by a multitude of mistakes- wrong style of writing, taking on too many things to write in one book, fuzzy timeline, and not being able to deliver either any entertainment or any meaningful ‘point’ of the novel.
DO READ: If you just want to add a technically comedy book into your “read” collection.
DON’T READ: If you plan to have any realistic comedy expectations from it.