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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Corporate Atyaachaar

Abhay Nagarajan

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To purchase Corporate Atyaachaar

Title: Corporate Atyaachaar
Author: Abhay Nagarajan
Genre: Novel
Written: 2010
Length: 212 pages
Availability: Corporate Atyaachaar - India
  • The Comical Journey of an Office Doormat

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Our Assessment:

B- : a limited but occasionally amusing look at the contemporary Indian investment/wealth management scene

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Like author Abhay Nagarajan, the narrator of Corporate Atyaachaar graduated from Shri Ram College of Commerce and then took a Masters of Finance & Control from the University of Delhi. In this novel he describes his first two years out of school, working as a financial adviser for Wealth Capital Advisors Private Limited (WCA) -- though not in Delhi or Mumbai, but rather at the tiny Bangalore outpost. Serving "a select set of rich, high net worth" clients, WCA is part of India's rapidly expanding financial services sector, and the novel follows the narrator's time there both in the still-heady days 'Before the Market Fall (March 2007 - Mid Jan 08)' (as the first part of the book is titled) and then the rather more unsettled time 'After the Market Fall (Jan 2008 and beyond)'.
       The novel begins with a Prologue, the narrator set to meet a new WCA recruit and opening his "magnum opus, The Human Ball Scratcher" -- the manuscript that is Corporate Atyaachaar. The 'human ball scratcher' -- HBS -- is the boss in the Bangalore office and, yes, he's constantly scratching at his privates; in this -- and otherwise -- he's not much of a role model, but professionally the narrator has no one else to follow.
       In Corporate Atyaachaar the narrator describes trying to get his bearings and figure out what his job involves, and how to go about it. The subtitle suggests he sees his as The Comical Journey of an Office Doormat, but he's far from entirely a doormat, and if his boss doesn't treat him all that seriously or tries to take all the credit and (positive) attention then that hardly seems like remarkable behavior by a boss, regardless of the business.
       Corporate Atyaachaar does offer some insight into the wealth-management and -advisement scene. This ranges from clients with their unreal expectations (and little understanding of what the financial world involves) to presentations ranging from fund-offers to professional seminars (which most of the participants seem to sleep through), to the various shadier parts of the trade, including expectations of palms being greased one way or another in order for one fund to be touted to clients over another (though there is also the occasional savvy client that expects a cut of the action or special deal).
       Focusing on several of WCAs clients that are repeatedly encountered, Corporate Atyaachaar paints a slightly cartoonish picture but never makes the leap to the truly comic. Everything remains fairly grounded and realistic, with even the bribes and enticements generally so small-scale as to be laughable (but not in a very funny way). The novel feels very anecdotal -- real-life experience dressed up very lightly as fiction, but without that real-life experience being quite interesting enough to sustain a novel.
       The narrator -- in his early twenties -- occasionally leers at a woman (notably the "hot daughter" of the 'Aunty' who runs the house he lives in), and there's a bit of family pressure from the certified accountant father as to his professional path, but one gets too little sense of any sort of personal life and development.
       Corporate Atyaachaar is of some limited interest for its insight into this time and place (contemporary India) and world (of financial services there), and on these limited terms it's quite adequate. There are amusing parts to it, too, but it's a shame that Nagarajan didn't go all-out in trying for comic effect; instead, while the 'human ball scratcher' was a (small) start, he hardly dared go beyond that.

- M.A.Orthofer, 4 April 2011

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Reviews: Abhay Nagarajan: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Abhay Nagarajan is an Indian author.

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