“What’s wrong with you Karthik?” by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

What’s wrong with you Karthik? by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a debut novel that was shortlisted for the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. It is set in 1993 when young Karthik Subramanian, Grade 7, has been enrolled in Bengaluru or then Bangalore’s St. George’s school. It is a prestigious institution known for its illustrious alumni. They consist of professionals, sportsmen, entrepreneurs etc. It is a hard act to follow. Torn between belonging to a traditional TamBrahm family and the very alien, environment of St. George’s, Karthik works his way through. He ultimately survives. What’s wrong with you Karthik? has a lot of potential that has not been exploited. The flatness of women characters is bothersome but not as much as the ill-crafted male characters. It was a great opportunity to explore different forms of masculinity and it would have been a magnificent canvas to explore. Instead it seems as a thinly garbed memoir passing off as fiction and thereby not really doing justice to either genre. Karthik Venkatesh points out in his review that “More could perhaps have been done. A tad more attention could have been paid to coming up with a meatier plot, perhaps. A little more attention to trimming the bulges in places.” ( Deccan Herald, 6 Sept 2020)

4 October 2020

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