Brilliant yet poor, Ramesh Kumar grew up working at his father’s tea stall in the Old City of Delhi. Now, he makes a lucrative living taking tests for the sons of India's elite—a situation that becomes complicated when one of his clients, the sweet but hapless eighteen-year-old Rudi Saxena, places first in the All Indias, the national university entrance exams, thanks to him.
... slices into the soul of contemporary Indian society ... This is a cinematic caper – HBO already holds film rights – and though Raina is highlighting expired dreams and inequality, he is always perceptive and playful. No one is beyond scrutiny, from the Americans to the Chinese. Social commentary meets standup comedy, as with a biting wit ...Raina stretches stereotype and cliche into incisive satire.
... it is his depiction of bustling, hustling Delhi and its grafting populace that makes this tightly written, fast-paced, often sharply savage societal satire such a rollicking read. [Raina] conjures up a memorable world that is ghee-greased, polluted, mired in dust and corruption, but also thrusting. At times his punchy sentences overreach and the rollercoaster action flags towards the end. Still, it’s an impressively entertaining but also insightful debut. The future probably belongs to the Rudis but the reader will root for Ramesh.
Raina’s debut novel lives up to its billing as a fun caper and social satire thanks to strong characterization, a fast-paced plot, and an eye for the ridiculous. His delicious skewering of the social mores of Delhi’s über-rich and clear-eyed rendering of India’s social hierarchy propel sheer entertainment into striking elucidation in the mode of Aravind Adiga ... There is drama in the dizzying turns of events, which Raina makes good use of with his unerring ability to neatly capture whole segments of Indian society and their corresponding absurdities, while his keen depictions of rich, ambitious, and unscrupulous parents, the frenzied media, and systemic inequities are universally recognizable.