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Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 04/28/24 7:08 AM

Book review: Goagr@m by Bina Nayak

When influencers come of age

Author and graphic designer living close to the Dear Zindagi road in Parra, Bina Nayak has painted us a very detailed picture of Goa — the Goa where people actually live and not just beachbum at. The authenticity runs through every page of the book showing  the locals going about their daily lives alternately amused and bemused by the burgeoning crowd of social media influencers around them.

At the centre of Goagr@m is Madhur Chopra aka Maddie, a young fashion designer who has escaped the shackles of her protective family and come to Goa to relaunch the career that Covid-19 tried to abort. With an aggressive (Delhi) attitude, she tries to capture anything and everything Goa to boost her social media presence. Initially not-very-likeable, Maddie slowly adapts to her new surroundings, finds her tribe, identifies her corner in the fashion industry, and somewhere along the way, as she tries to fit in rather than stand out, the reader starts rooting for her to find happiness in this new place she calls home.

There’s a whole host of characters that make Maddie’s journey in Goa a fun one. There’s Aunty Mabel in her gorgeous old-world villa, renting out a room to Maddie at a rate that aunties in Goa with big houses would rent to us at in our fantasies. There’s Mabel’s nephew Karl who has all the right connections to help Maddie out, Hacker Shanx, her knight-in-shining-tech-armour, and Chaitali,  a younger, more naive version of our protagonist. We even have a decidedly villainous villain to balance out the set of mostly good-natured, kindly people that inhabit this world.

Light fun read

The blurb refers to a horrifying experience which changes things for Maddie and has her switching off her phone and reading Hemingway, Steinbeck and Shakespeare instead. Here, I will confess that I am not too keen on `horrifying experiences` being used to help protagonists grow and mature. There are many other ways by which young women become less aggressive, or learn to navigate life with grace and calm. But, as horrifying experiences go, the one in this book is more implied than explained, dealt with swiftly, so our Maddie gradually moves ahead in life and is able to make sense of things again.  And if everything comes together by the end just a little too neatly, in the  way it seldom does in real life, we still find ourselves happy to accept that.

Overall, Goagr@m makes for a light read which has one smiling from time to time in appreciation of its characters and the goings-on. It doesn`t shy away from the sad or unpleasant parts of life but touches upon them lightly enough for the reader to move past them.

Goagr@m By Bina Nayak. HarperCollins India. 255 pages. Rs. 399/-

This ran in the Sunday Express Magazine of 28 April 2024. 

Related Links:

Book review: Moving To Goa by Katharina Kakar

Travel: Finding Farhan`s fort in Goa


Bina NayakGoa storyGoagramHarperCollins Booksinfluencer

Sheila Kumar • April 28, 2024

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