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This bestselling Indian import feels more like a half-baked business-inspirational tract than a novel, as if a washed-up motivational speaker wrote a spec script for The Office and set it in an Indian call center. The prologue sets up the novel as a story told to the author by a fellow passenger on an overnight train to Delhi. Perennially put-upon narrator Shyam Mehra is denied a promotion and learns his ex-girlfriend and current officemate Priyanka has agreed to an arranged marriage with a man in Seattle. Another friend and colleague, Vroom, hates the job and their boss, but likes the money. Co-worker Rhadhika's marriage crumbles after she learns of her husband's affair. And Esha feels guilty about what she's done in pursuit of her dream of being a model. Meanwhile, they learn that the company they work for has decided to lay off workers and that their boss is taking credit for work they've done. And then, the hook: God calls, offering the crew a four-point plan for success. Lackluster writing and a preachy tone cripple what could have been an interesting premise. (May)
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Business has been lagging lately at Connections, the Delhi call center for a large U.S. computer and appliance company. Twenty-six-year-old agent Shyam, known to his American callers as "Sam," is less concerned about his career than his breakup with coworker Priyanka. (She recently consented to an arranged marriage with a wealthy Indian expat.) Sam's other twentysomething colleagues have troubles of their own: aspiring model Esha takes desperate measures to secure gigs; Radhika suffers humiliation at the hands of an unfaithful spouse; and Varun, aka Vroom, drives at dangerous speeds to cope with personal and professional distress. The bane of the staff's existence is their jargon-spewing boss, Bakshi, who blithely assumes credit for his employees' work. One particularly tense evening (which happens to be Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.), the Connections staff take a break from the office--and receive a life-altering call. Bhagat, an investment banker based in Hong Kong, renders engaging characters and a provocative premise. Allison Block
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