Book review by Rajagopalan Chandrashekar
Gurgoan: If you grew up in India in the 1980s/1990s aspiring to be a cricketer (while still balancing the pressure of studies), you will see yourself when you read “101 Not Out,” the debut novel by Mangu Srinivas. Srinivas’ vivid portrayal of Arjun will leave you nostalgic, and maybe a little melancholy.
Released for circulation this year ( 2021) it brings out the emotions that make us Indians mad about cricket. While a background in cricket isn’t essential to read this book, some relatedness would definitely help. If you have watched even 1 IPL match, you are good to go. Else, get hold of a cricket nerd and do a book-reading session this lockdown.
Arjun’s journey from being an average cricketer in his teens to donning an India cap is a good representation of how today’s cricketers have made it to the international stage. How Arjun fights his demons - a distracting teenage love, a committed coach who Arjun finds difficult to trust, and a father who discouraged - to make it to the pinnacle of cricket in a very unassuming way makes the story relatable to anyone who grew up in that 80s/90s era.
I could wholeheartedly relate to Arjun. It transported me to those golden years of my life. Srinivas’ evocative portrayal of the protagonist ensured that I never lost the visual. The book is an easy read of 2 ~ 3 hours that will magically put you into a theatre. You may be lucky to get a Bollywood feel as well. Not bad considering most movie halls are still closed. At times, the story gets a little predictable, but that must be just me.
I congratulate Srinivas on his debut novel. It will inspire many aspiring cricketers. It will also help them understand that their struggles are no different. They should continue training and playing. For guys like me who grew up in the 80s/90s, it is a wonderful trip down memory lane.
A five-star effort, I must say.