Debutant novelist Anurag Tripathi clearly knows about art and the trappings it comes with in India. No wonder, the protagonist in his novel, Kalayug, a wheeling-dealing-fixing banker, Jay Malhotra, glides through this universe, mostly effortlessly, and usually, with a pithy afterthought. Through his eyes, we’re exposed to both the seemingly syncretic and vibrant veneer of the contemporary Indian arts scene as well as the dirty, gritty underside of its canvas.
Malhotra boozes and schmoozes with gallerists, artists, wannabe aficionados and the financiers mining a new market, while working behind the scenes for his clients. An almost serendipitous combination of one shady deal too many, conflicted and troubled characters and much machination come together to break the thin ice he’s accustomed to skating over in an entertaining sink-or-swim saga.
The writing is wry without being smug, the characters and their badinage engaging without getting stilted and as for the the plot, well, let’s leave it at Tripathi gets the ingredients of a desi potboiler just right!