Date of publication: August 15th, 2021
Genre: Coming of Age, Fiction
Purchase Links: Amazon
Raghav is an ordinary seven-year-old growing up on the ‘good’ side of Colaba in Bombay. His is a safe, protected world and he is kept well away from the ‘other’, darker side of Colaba, which nevertheless, holds a deep fascination for him with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people, and mystery – the ‘real’ world as far he is concerned.
But life has other plans and Raghav’s entire world comes crashing down one day. In the space of a few crucial hours, his childish innocence is ripped away brutally, and he also loses the one person who may have made his world right again – his mother. That fateful day alters the course of his life and the ‘other’ side is the only place he can escape his now truly miserable home life and his bitter father who he resents more and more each day. He never tells even his closest friends about the horrific abuse he suffered the day his mother died, the day a fierce, burning anger took root in his very soul.
Now, 20 years later, all his peers and friends are settling down into jobs and the business of growing up. But Raghav is still trapped between his now suffocating relationship with his father, his own inability to find a job and make a life for himself, and the painful memories of his childhood ordeal that still haunt him. And this is when he meets Rani one day, an orphan beggar girl who knows life on the streets of Mumbai, but not in the way Raghav does. He wants to ‘save’ Rani from the beggar mafia and give her a chance at a better life. His strong need to stand up for something, to truly help someone is fueled by the recent Nirbhaya gang rape case in New Delhi, which evokes painful memories of his own past trauma.
Set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, and inspired by true events, Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age urban drama that explores the complex layers of humanity. And the city that engenders them.
“Raghav!” Mama’s dulcet voice sounded through the house.diary of an angry young man by Rishi Vohra
I have found myself reading many books set in Southern Asia or written by Southern Asian authors lately. I enjoy reading these books because I get a glimpse into another culture/another part of the world. So, when the author emailed me to review Diary of an Angry Young Man, it didn’t take me long to accept the invite. I was very excited to read this book, and it lived up to my expectations.
Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age story. There are two halves of the book, one set in 1992 Bombay and the other set in 2012 Mumbai. When Raghav is introduced in 1992, he is seven years old and has a pretty good life. His Mama is his world, and when she has a medical emergency that results in her death, he is shattered. But, he is forever changed by a horrendous act of violence. That violence shapes Raghav’s life. Fast forward to 2012, and Raghav is unemployed and can’t get a job. He hangs out with his friends at a restaurant on the bad side of town, gets into fights, and generally is just lost. But everything changes when Raghav meets Rani, a seven-year-old girl employed by the beggar mafia—meeting her sets off a chain of events that will change Raghav and Rani’s life.
It took me one and a half days to read Diary of an Angry Young Man. It was a very fast-paced book. The author seamlessly went from one event to another without breaking that pace. I enjoyed that very much!! Also, the fast pace didn’t hinder the flow of the book. The flow was very smooth.
Raghav’s character felt a little two-dimensional during the 1992 part of the book. But, keep in mind, he was also seven years old. Kids that age don’t have a lot of depth to them. I was a little shocked by what happened to him, and my heart broke for him. No child should have gone through what he did.
I am happy to say that Raghav’s character did gain depth in the 2012 part of the book. The author fleshed out his character and introduced sides to him that I didn’t think he had. He was also a very angry young man, which the author highlighted several times during the book. I did cheer during one of those fight scenes. Let’s say that Raghav finally got to confront the person who hurt him when he was 7.
I felt awful for Rani. She lost her mother to TB and worked for the “beggar mafia.” She told Raghav when he was trying to get her off the streets that the head of the beggar mafia had plans for her. Raghav immediately knew that she would be sold to a brothel and live the rest of her life as a prostitute. I also understood why she left the house a day after Raghav left her there. The streets were the only home she knew.
The coming of age angle was interesting to read. I enjoyed watching Raghav find his purpose in life. It did surprise me how he figured out what he wanted to do with his life.
There was a slight action-angle that showed up whenever Raghav would fight. That I enjoyed because Raghav didn’t come out the winner every time. It was realistic, and I enjoyed that.
There are trigger warnings associated with this book. The main trigger warning involves child abuse (1992 and 2012). There is also talk about true life events in India in those times. In 1992, there was strife with religion that turned to riots. In 2012, there was a gang rape on a bus in New Dehli (I remember hearing about this). So, this is a warning if these trigger you.
The end of Diary of an Angry Young Man was interesting. There was a point where Raghav went to find the head of the beggar mafia that did feel a little Bollywoodish. Raghav says something similar after the police get to the scene, which I found a little amusing. I liked that everyone was on their way to getting a HEA or already got it. I ended the book with a smile.
I would recommend Diary of an Angry Young Man to anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, mild language, and child abuse.