Book Review: The Baptism of Tony Calangute by Sudeep Chakravarti

ISBN 978-9386021960

Genre: Fiction

Publishers: Aleph Book Company

Price: Rs. 299/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
Behind the Book

Damn Good’—Hindustan Times.

A requiem for a paradise lost and an impassioned plea for it to be regained.’—India Today.

The Baptism of Tony Calangute tells the story of Tony Calangute, the owner of Happy Bar, and his fiery cousin Dino Dantas, self-appointed guardian of Aparanta, the mythic, idyllic Goa of old. Their tale begins in the sleepy seaside village of Socorro Do Mundo, where time holds little meaning. For some time now, the world and several of Aparanta’s own have been engaged in a feeding frenzy on the natural treasures of this land of plenty. Chief among the poison-mongers is Winston Almeida, supreme thug, land shark and political aspirant, who will stop at nothing to appropriate and plunder all that this creaky, corrupt paradise has to offer. For this he has allied with Sergei Yurlov, a Russian drug lord; the Princess, a tantalizing Brazilian transsexual go-between; and PI Fernandes, her Goan policeman lover—and their alliance is blessed by Number One, the political overlord of Aparanta. Standing up to them are Tony and Dino, who are determined as ever to preserve what they can of their homeland. In prose that is partly lyrical, part brutal satire, yet always passionate Sudeep Chakravarti evokes the essence of a paradise on the verge of losing its soul.

About the Author
Sudeep Chakravarti’s latest book is the bestselling The Bengalis: A Portrait of a Community. He is the author of several ground-breaking and bestselling works of narrative non-fiction (Red Sun, a finalist for the Crossword Awards 2009; Highway 39 and Clear. Hold. Build, winner of the Award for Excellence, the Asian Publishing Awards 2014), novels (Tin Fish, The Avenue of Kings) and short stories.
His essays and short fiction have appeared in collections in India and overseas, and, like his books, have been translated into several languages. Chakravarti is among India’s leading independent commentators on matters of conflict and conflict resolution, democracy and development, and the convergence of business and human rights. An extensively published columnist and essayist, he has over three decades of experience in media, and has earlier worked with major global and Indian media organizations, mostly in leadership positions. An avid scuba diver, Chakravarti’s keen interest away from writing remains marine conservation. He lives in Goa.

I have loved the author's previous work, The Bengalis. Hence when I picked up this book, my expectations were very high. And, the author did not disappoint me at all! The author has a way with words. It is visible in his fiction and non fiction works both. Reading him is a treat for his prose simply flows. It is lyrical and it has the power to spell bind you. His narrative skills are totally captivating making his books an engaging read. It was no different for The Baptism of Tony Calangute.

For starters I loved the black and white cover. It kind of sets the tone for what is in store for a reader. Mysterious, enigmatic and inviting, this is exactly what this book is all about. The blurb is promising. It teases a reader only to a required extent leaving a lot to his imagination and pushing him to finally turn the pages to reach the real story.

Goa always fascinates me. For I know behind the mask of fun and frolic there are lot of stories hidden. Wrapped in culture and tradition, these stories are as real as you and me. I enjoyed the way the author brought Goa alive in his descriptions. For sometime I was already there, holidaying! Jokes apart, this book makes for an extremely poignant read. With characters are plausible and a plot that looks straight out of a movie, this book leaves you asking for more. At the onset it looks like a simple plot but the author has layered with various sub-plots, pushing the story much higher giving the reader a wonderful read.

However scary it might seem to be, but sadly this is the face of Goa. Reading this book reminded me of the movie Dum Maaro Dum. It is heartening to see beautiful tourist places which were once the pride of the country be reduced to something like this. The reaction of the people residing in Goa and their way of living has been brilliantly narrated by the author. He has captured the nuances of a carefree life so well that those scenes actually come alive before your eyes.

Sudeep Chakravarti is an author whose work I have truly enjoyed and will always look forward to. His well researched writings strike a chord instantaneously, leaving the reader fulfilled after having read a wonderful book.

Strongly recommended for the sheer brilliance of a plot and its narrative!

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Filter Coffee Rasogulla - a unique combination of two mind blowing cuisines leading to a heavenly experience!
Source: iChef