Book Review: The Middleman


Men, authors, books come and go and yet our country remains filled with angst ridden youth. Sankar’s Middleman is a Bengali novel translated to English and even though it chronicles the life of an unemployed young man in 1970’s Calcutta (as it was called then), it could well have been set in 2014 in any of our country’s cities.

Somnath Bannerjee is a young man who was average at studies in 70’s Calcutta and is thus, unemployed as of date in the book, even though he has been looking for a job for two years. The novel slowly draws you into Somnath Bannerjee’s world as he queues up outside employment exchanges, tries to game the job system, tries to keep up with the love of his life and finally descends into the darkness of being a ‘dalaal’.

Effortlessly beautiful, I found reading the novel almost soul cleansing. Somehow, the quiet sadness of the novel made me want to get up from my airplane seat (I finished this book in a two hour flight journey) and scream on behalf of Somnath.

The kicker in the book is when Sankar reveals in his author’s note how two young men, having read his novel, came up to him and asked him to introduce them to one of Somnath’s fictional relatives holding jobs abroad- in the book. And when Sankar tells them that no such person exists, the young men refused to believe him.

Beautifully poignant.

Title: The Middleman
Author: Sankar | Translator: Arunava Sinha
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Pages: 200
Genre: Fiction/Drama
Rating: 4.50 of 5
Reviewed for: Personal Copy

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