De­signer Dud

In her first novel about In­dian pol­i­tics, Shob­haa Dé finds a new dummy to drape in her well-worn de­vices, says AJACHI CHAKRABARTI

Tehelka - - ISRAEL -

EX­POS­ING THE dark, ve­nal heart of In­dian pol­i­tics, Sethji is an ab­so­lutely unputdownable novel about am­bi­tion, greed — and above all, trust.

Or so says the blurb at the back. First, Shob­haa Dé’s lat­est novel is em­i­nently put­down­able. The plot is thin, the sto­ry­telling is clichéd and the twists in the tale po­litely send RSVPs months in ad­vance (gen­er­ally, they can’t make it). Nei­ther does it ex­pose the “dark, ve­nal heart of In­dian pol­i­tics”. Un­less you’ve been liv­ing un­der a rock and didn’t know that In­dian politi­cians aren’t al­tru­is­tic ide­al­ists who wake up ev­ery day think­ing about what they can do for our coun­try, there’s not much ex­posed in Sethji.

The epony­mous Sethji is a re­gional po­lit­i­cal satrap from Ut­tar Pradesh (in­spired by Si­taram Kesri, says Dé), who is a cru­cial coali­tion part­ner at the Cen­tre. He’s fac­ing a chal­lenge to his po­si­tion due to cor­rup­tion charges, com­pounded by his son raping a North­east­ern girl. He wrig­gles his way out of that sit­u­a­tion only to hur­tle into an­other. He and his fam­ily are ab­ducted by a Mum­bai don backed by pow­er­ful com­mer­cial in­ter­ests. Still, he and his trusted daugh­ter-in-law Am­rita plot their way out (with all the fi­nesse of a hip­popota­mus). De­fy­ing all

• Dis­sect­ing the elite Shob­haa Dé

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