Friday, November 27, 2009

The Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan

Rating : 7/10

There are some things that connect people who might otherwise not have too many things in common. Cricket is one of those things. In India, almost everyone is a cricket-fan. Right from the Minister who tweets about cricket scores to the friendly next-door neighbour who comes to your place to watch cricket while bringing you mouth-watering samosas. Cricket in India, is one thing that brings everything else to a standstill. And to every single book-lover who is an Indian cricket fan, The Zoya Factor will be an unforgettable book.

Advertising executive Zoya Solanki was born at the exact moment of triumph- when India clinched the 1983 World Cup. In a chance conversation with one of the cricketers of the Indian team, she lets slip this detail. Intrigued by her, the players begin to notice that they win every match they play after having breakfast with Zoya. If, however, they don't have breakfast with our 'Lady Luck', they lose. Almost everyone in the team is awed by this revelation and wants Zoya to be with them during breakfast, to help them win. Everyone except the arrogant yet dashing ( the Austen-fan in me wants to say Mr.Darcy-ish ) Captain, Nikhil Khoda. Khoda doesn't believe in Zoya's luck and wants his boys to understand that they win or lose because of their own performances. But do they?

This  fun, original concept is used well and though I wondered how a story could be convincingly woven around this almost-surreal and silly premise, Anuja Chauhan does a great job with the narrative in her first novel. Written in first-person, the book is often hilarious and very engaging. The descriptions and references about everything India, in impeccable Hinglish, from Rahul Gandhi  to arranged marriages are spot-on and I loved them. The characters are well-moulded ( I could SO relate to Zoya, almost all the time. Except for the obvious difference: I jinx every team I support. Honestly. ), while reading the cricket sequences and satires on players, coaches and commentators is every cricket fan's dream come true. 

That having been said, the book got repetitive. I mean, how MANY matches must we read about when the results are very predictable? The editing could have definitely been better; if the novel had been shorter by 100 pages, I think it would have been an even-better, more gripping read.  

That having been said, I'd recommend this book to every single cricket fan - you wouldn't want to miss this one! Also, I'd definitely rate the book higher than any Chetan Bhagat novel.


Birdy said...

Haha wonderful review, especially the Chetan Bhagat bit! I SO agree that he is overrated! :D

Kals said...

I know! His latest, Two States, was bearable. But all of his previous books that I've read are so cliche!


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