Autobiography of a mad nation: A review

I recently had a chance to read this book, and I must admit, like a true journalist, Sriram Karri had me hooked from the first line – I was born in a mentally retarded country.

In today’s world, where consumerism is holding sway, Karri’s narrative holds up a mirror to us and asks, no, beseeches us “How much are you willing to take before you fight back?” Topics such as political leanings, religion, regionalism, sensationalism that are normally touched upon very lightly, if at all, are tackled head on.

Coming to the story, the diary of a convict on death row is discovered by the highest office in India. The sentiments strike a chord, and a covert mission is sanctioned – to find out the reason for a normal person to suddenly kill his mentally retarded neighbour.

The premise of the story is very interesting, and it grabs you right from the start. This story goes beyond the regular fiction piece, as it drives you to think of where we are and where we are headed in terms of a society and a country.

Moving at a breakneck speed from partition to emergency, to nuclear tests to liberalization, to the Mandal commission to Babri masjid, to Godhra riots to Indira’s assassination to banning Satanic Verses to the Kargil war; the story makes all important milestones part of the narrative. A group, hidden in the shadows, controlling the strings of the story only serves the purpose of making you question “Who is pulling our strings? Do we have control?”

It is a brave book, and one that requires you to keep an open mind. Your beliefs will be tested, your opinions will be questioned, and you will feel enriched by the end of the story. This is a book that you must read. I would rate it 4.5 out of 5.