Book Review: Lean Days by Manish Gaekwad


ISBN 978-9352776740

Genre: Fiction

Publishers: HarperCollins India

Price: Rs. 399/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
Behind the Book

Fed up with his tedious desk job, a young man decides to quit on an impulse. He wants to write a novel, but doesn't think he has a story to tell. So the would-be writer, who was raised in a kotha, sets out to travel, hoping to arrive somewhere: at a destination, at a story.

But it's not just about arriving. What about the journey? The joy and pain of trudging through the country without a plan, or a map? If his aim is to write, who will document his search for inspiration, and for love?

Lean Days is the story of an artist's voyage through the country, mixing history with imagination, and finding people and places whose stories he can tell along with his own. It is a book of journeys without an end in sight, about the yearning for romance and succumbing to the temptations of the flesh.

About the Author

Manish Gaekwad is a journalist based in Mumbai. This is his first novel. He is currently freelancing for the Hindu, and has previously worked for the and Mid-Day.

With a minimalist cover that speaks a lot, both for the author and the story inside, Lean Days is intriguing. It really piqued my interest further to see the nameless blurb. No names of cities, people or places. It is as mysterious as it can be and yet you cannot deny the attraction you are feeling towards it all. One of the most classic books I had read with a nameless protagonist was Rebecca which I still love till date. And no, there was nothing amiss at all! It is a perfect story with a perfectly nameless protagonist. This book has an equally intriguing tone about it.

We all have faced such days at some point in life and realized that the ultimate fact remains the same - Life goes on! It never stopped for anyone or because of anything.  This book talks about such Lean Days in life. Neatly divided into 15 chapters named on the 15 cities the hero (I don't know if I can dare to call him so, but I will!) travels to starting with Madras, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi and moving on to Ajmer, Srinagar, Ladakh, Chandigarh, Manali, Lucknow, Kathmandu and finally taking us to Lumbini, Banaras, Calcutta and Bombay.

Layered with emotions and desires, the story keeps striding ahead despite all that happens in these cities. This book is a heady concoction of travel, existentialism, banal every day life occurrences and the chaotic relationships we deal with. The author writes in a tone that is acerbic at a few places and comforting at others. It is a rare feat for a debut author to have managed this balance between two without suffocating the reader with an overdose of either. All through those places, the author ensures you are seated in the protagonist's head. Analyzing his thoughts, looking at life the way he does, conflicting with your inner self and at times, ending up convincing one own self. It is a strange feeling that refuses to leave you even after you have finished the book. The language of the book has a combination of philosophy with liberal doses of realism making it a perfect page turner. There is something to look forward in every page and every chapter. The narrative leaves you excited as you are curious to know what next.

For the debutant, the author has done a brilliant job of bringing together varied experiences and weave them in a profound story that leaves its mark on the reader's psyche. At the onset it looks like a simple story of self discovery but at the core of it all, it is a story with a deeper meaning of life.  I loved reading the book. I read it slowly, to savour its depth and enjoy its beauty to the hilt.

Strongly recommended to every one, for its sheer beauty of narrative.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Nutella Crepes with berries - a deadly combination which is surely made in heaven!

Source: Dinner at the Zoo


  1. thank you so much for reading and appreciating the book namrata. :)
    i was sure no one wants to read the book. it is one thing to write, but entirely up to book lovers to take the writer's work forward. You give me hope that one should soldier on. Merci.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      I have truly loved reading it and I agree with you, it is one thing to write and another thing for it to be loved. I am sure your book will be loved, in abundance.

      Sending you loads of best wishes :)


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