The Floundering Author
By Sundari Venkatraman
Rating: 4 stars
A cocktail of love, sex, and aspirations lends a youthful charm and appeal to Sundari Venkatraman’s Floundering Author serving as contemporary, jazzy, and best seller stuff at the same time. The premise is unique as she unpeels delicately the complexities faced by the modern generation and intense love coupled with passion not only explored but hitting an octane level. The author surely knows the pulse of India’s youth, a growing generation swearing by rom-com, popcorn, and Netflix yet never shy in exploring career and relationships where passion reigns supreme.
Jai and Ishika meet in the unlikeliest fashion at a publishing house and it doesn’t take long for romance to sparkle between the love birds. A compelling narration gently touching flirting where romance takes precedence over and set against the backdrop of Mussoorie serving as the perfect template.
“Sudden gasp escaping the female lip at the sight of red silver of sun rising above a mountain from far across.” The description sinks effortlessly and beautifully in the narration, building sensual tension makes for the sheer contrast, and the gradient sun speedily into the sky from deep red to burnt orange and brilliant yellow. The novel moves beautifully and gathers steam with the characterization, intonation, lyrical image painted, and intimacy. There is beauty in every word making it a kaleidoscope experience for readers.
What stands out in the book is intimacy and the author raises the bar higher, the whipped intensity growing manifold in sync with conversations in the setting making the sexual tension palpable. “If I can’t have the real woman, I could of her, right?” Jay says. The sex scenes are done effortlessly and in a delicate manner where the author has injected novelty and taking the characters on a high that perhaps very few writers would dare going or none have gone. Yet, the scenes are strung aesthetically and move swiftly bringing the raw emotions alive.
The Floundering Author is not limited to the delectable sex and intimacy but narrates the struggle of Jai as the author and Ishika, facing sexual harassment at work from her shameless boss, lending a sense of realism to the tale.
What’s a love story without its fair share of conflict? The merit of the book is that it doesn’t rely on cliché to create a void among its characters and smartly moves away from the predictability factor. Jai is yet to make his mark and the reluctance in meeting Ishika’s parents breed conflict between both. The void is created through the reluctance of Jai to take it ahead and the tears flowing into Ishika’s eyes lends credibility to the subtlety of the act resembling a film scene and drama stuff on stage.
Sundari Venkatraman downplays the usual high voltage drama that happens when lovers meet parents and to the contrary, the latter cajole their daughter to understand where the guy is coming from. The narration is done sensitively and shows rightfully that parents need not be evil to love and like in films and books, the former has been painted too negatively. Kudos to the writer for not falling into this cliché.
There is no death of novelty right from having a novel inside a novel as the author brings the constant struggle of a newbie writer with publishing houses to take him on board. One gets a sense of what lies behind after penning the first book and giving a peek into life after that, right from marketing to publishing and distribution on what makes a book sell. Quite a jungle of sort! Sundari Venkatraman is the right person educating the readers on charges at leading bookshops and of course Kindle as the next big thing which democratized reading, albeit, e-books within reach.
The Floundering Author wrung out the issue of passion vs money, sadly misplaced in our society on how choosing a creative field such as writing a book, acting or films is regarded with disdain and still not considered as a career.
The Floundering Author has a multitude of characters with huge potential and to the exception of Jai’s brother Dev, Chahaat, Gulshan, Deepshika, Shobha, Mahesh and Anya come as a blink-and-miss. Take Mahesh as the harasser for instance and the character perhaps could have been fleshed out as the antagonist in making things difficult for the pair but suddenly disappears.
The Floundering Author has minor flaws but is one of the fastest-paced and edgy romantic thrillers I’ve read in recent times and arguably one of the best works of Sundari Venkatraman. There is no hypocrisy and one of the rare times where an author has explored sexuality with depth, taking intimacy into places and novelty making it refreshing. As I say, the novel belongs to the young generation and cannot be missed for anything for it has all the ingredients whether love, struggle, dreams, and aspirations.