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The Unprodigal — by Manu Dhawan

Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Price: Rs. 295 INR(paperback), Rs. 210 INR(Kindle edition)
ISBN: 978– 9353335410
Buy here: https://amzn.to/32hgvwn

From the heart of modern India comes a story of fathers and sons. Aryan, the genius, dashing and now-failed son of the country’s richest and most powerful scion, finds himself chugging into danger on a desert train to nowhere. It has been months since the only person he loved and cherished, his grandfather Aryaman, has died under mysterious circumstances, and Aryan has given his all to unearth the truth. Yet he seems to have fallen short, for the conspiracy he had gotten wind of is not only closer but bigger than what he had imagined. But in the darkest hour before dawn, in a hopeless place and amongst strangers, the truth awaits Aryan. He will have to make the longest journey of his life — both inside and out — for it. He will have to stitch together pieces of his early life — his struggles, loves, victories, regrets, faith and the values given to him by his grandfather — to fight against the mightiest. Will Aryan find the true courage for a final stand? Will the son become the father? Or will the truth make him…The Unprodigal.

About the author:

Manu Dhawan is an erstwhile private equity professional, banker, content producer, and serial start-up entrepreneur. He is also a writer, ad and movie director, and cinematographer. Having co-founded CinePlay, along with Nandita Das and Subodh Maskara, he has directed multiple movies for the company.

My take on the book:

Aryan Rout, the son of the richest man in the country is about to cross the border unknowingly in a God forsaken train filled with marijuana traders. Aryan is not sure whom and what he is trying to run away from, as he miraculously escapes death multiple times in a day, but also stumbles on the ultimate truth, beyond what he had been searching for. Will Aryan be able to find the missing pieces of the puzzle and knowing the backstory of how Aryan landed in this situation forms the story.

The Unprodigal is the story of Aryaman, freedom-fighter, Union Minister and a man high on values, and that of his highly successful and rich businessman sons, Yash and Karthik, and mainly of Aryan who is Yash’s son by birth but more of a son of Aryaman by virtue of being brought up by his grandfather and the qualities he imbibed from him over the years. The story mirrors how ambition, money, greed and dysfunctional relationships are the foundations on which highly successful business empires are built over years but lack of values can tumble them to ruins within seconds. 

The story starts with a big bang amidst goosebump inducing action sequences and slowly delves into the past of each of the main characters. The author succeeds in building the much needed suspense in the first few pages and reveals it only towards the end. As much as the story is about the mystery Aryan has set out to crack, it is about the relationship dynamics shared by the three generation of Routs, how Aryan becomes the person he is because of his grandfather. 

The writing style is almost flawless and is gripping with the right amount of grit and wit. The conversations between the lead characters stand out for being practical and crisp. While there are some loose ends like one person being a Union minister for more than two decades or the age and timeline of the story and Aryaman being a freedom fighter, these minor flaws can be ignored. Pick this one for a perfect entertaining read, with well crafted characters, impressive storyline and good writing. The opening sequence is however my absolute favorite. 

My rating: