Nothing, they say, focuses the mind as clearly as the prospect of a hanging. But the prospect of a sacking from your first job must surely be a close second.
When the unnamed protagonist of this sparkling novel is confronted with an ultimatum—find three bestselling authors within a year or resign—the carefree future he had envisioned for himself is suddenly in jeopardy. He is twenty-nine, single, recovering, without serious injury, from a nearly failed relationship, and the commissioning editor for economics for a large British publisher’s India operation. It is a life almost blessed.
The unexpected jolt at his workplace, however, makes him seriously consider whether publishing is the perfect calling for him. But before he can decide, he still has a mission to fulfil. And so begins a search for the elusive bestselling authors—there are obdurate professors and experts to meet, journeys to take, contracts to sign. And at the same time there are girls to woo, planes to fly, good whiskey to drink, and fun to be had with friends and colleagues.
Gradually, disillusionment creeps in, and in keeping with the ironical tone of the book, our hero simply walks away, perhaps to make another life, travelling light, free of the old job, the old girlfriend, the old friends.