About the author: American writer, artist, thinker and traveler, Stanley Moss keeps shuttling between California, Europe and India. CEO of the Stockholm-based Medinge Group, an international branding think-tank, Stanley is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, in Literature. He has written The Hacker after systematic research on our country’s young technology companies and the dynamic transforming culture of the subcontinent, which he did in eleven trips to India.
About the book: Vikram is called Shaitan Vikram by his ex-colleagues and the management of Talsera, a Gurgaon-based software company, due to his eccentric ways. This man is a psychopath and hacks all the company’s important files and emails, swearing revenge for his immensely justifiable but inconvenient sacking. The result-the secrets of the company are exposed through a series of anonymous blog-posts, creating panic and a chaotic situation there. Suddenly, the place smells of corporate espionage and many disrupted programs. From then on there is a lot of excitement happening, as 2 of the 3 partners owning the company Rajiv ‘Ricky Talsera and Dilbar Kaneja- take it upon themselves to tackle every single emergency coming their way. They also rope in their architect and manager Jaitendra, who is a software wizard. Until after much drama, the inevitable happens, when they finally retrieve lost grace in front of the Dutch representative of the international client.
My take: I am no techno geek. But the one word I am fascinated with after incognito is ‘hacking’. I love to unravel mysteries related to cyberspace. Given in simple language I can understand technical lingo, too. In The Hacker, there are a few negative and positive points I observed.
Downside: Though Stanley has taken good care about depicting many things about India, his book is not without goof-ups.
1. Firstly, at the beginning when Shaitan Vikram is being made to resign at one point he gets angry and stands up. In the very next paragraph, it is said that he is sitting. The process of his getting seated again is not mentioned in between. And I quote from Pg. nos. 27 and pg. 28– Vikram stood up abruptly. “Listen, if you want me to resign, I’ll resign. But not because of your ridiculous accusations.” …He had the power to leave little time bombs here and there, no problemo. He sat up straighter in his chair, shrugged his shoulders. Unquote.
2. Jaitendra is a former soldier, who handled the software department of Talsera, since the time, it was just a start-up. I for one do not know if there is an Indian name like that. I even googled it and got asked if I was looking for Jitendra! Or did he mean Jinendra? Or is it Jaichandra? Well, but then like they say “What’s in a name?”
3. In the climactic fight, Adita’s friends Harpreet and Shoba shout at Adita’s tough cousin, who is grapples with Ravi. As far as I know, if Harpreet is a name given to a female, then she has to be a Sardarni. I know because though I am a typical South Indian I have some Punjabi tadka in me! 😉 I will explain. Though brought up in Mumbai, I was born in New Delhi, where my maternal grandfather was working as a government servant. Both my parents have a South Indian ancestry. So there need not be any doubts in that regard. I know due to my Mom that there is a lot of intermingling of cultures in the heart of our country, not necessarily by way of marriage. No wonder, my Mom made my sister and me give very popular Bhangra recitals in school (I would be a guy in most of them!), under her expert choreography. The songs were also written and even the music was composed by her. Now you know where my Punjabi tadka comes from. 😉 Coming back to Harpreet, Punjabi females and particularly a Sardarnis, are some of the very tough people I have known. If I were the author, I would have made Harpreet participate in the fist-fight or at least add a punch or two here and there, instead of just shouting meekly at the perpetrator of violence.
Upside: I suppose the author should also be given credit for what he has done well, right? Otherwise, the review in my opinion would be incomplete.
1. The main plot is interspersed by many small sub-plots, only connected to the main one due to the fact that things happen to the employees of Talsera and the Dutchman client. Initially, I found the presence of too many characters and their anecdotes a little confusing, but then the author does have a way with words and gets away with the narration. I particularly liked the couple Ravi and Adita (both of them side characters) and in the climax the guy turns out to be a hero in the eyes of Adita’s father, proving himself worthy of her, a la Bollywood films of the 1960s.
2. I have also found the narrative going at a rapid pace, particularly the second part. I don’t mean the first part does not have pace, but the second one is faster. Therefore, I felt the constant curiosity to know what would happen next. In fact, the day I received the book, I sat reading the remaining part of the book after the curfew-time at our home. My Dad gave me a show down for it the next morning, because the light was still on in my room well past our regular bed-time!
3. Initially, I wanted to mention derogatively, about all the references the author had made about the lecherous Dutchman and other similar things. But I found these references far in between and that they did not obstruct the narrative. Besides, we find a lot of such men in reality, don’t we? We cannot do anything about such pervert minds, as long as they don’t bring their thoughts to action. Only they can control their minds. So I have decided to ignore the same.
4. When people like Shaitan Vikram get enticed by porn videos, they do not know or may be do not want to know what goes behind these erotic scenes. These girls often have some very sad tales to tell. I really welcome that the author has taken up the cause of these girls in this novel, even though as a fleeting reference. You may find me too sensitive to things, but I feel that we should appreciate these small things as well.
5. The author also highlights the professional pressures of the IT industry, via Dilbar Khaneja, one of the partners, who usually specializes in solving all the problems connected to the company. In this process, he cannot have quality time with his family, missing his son’s growing up years.
There are a few things we, as Indians also need to do. We need to take a good look at ourselves, particularly about what kind of impression we are giving our foreign guests. Yes, I am talking about the big C-Corruption, which is rampant in India and the author has drawn attention to this, quite a few times. Being an Indian, I find it embarrassing. So we as individuals and the government in the larger picture need to do something about this. And this is not just to create a good impression to the outsiders, but for our own good.
And finally, I like these concluding lines from the novel so I want to quote the author as the finale to my review of this book, “This great country, this young generation, headed uncontrollably towards the future. Every day there was only promise. There would be no looking back.”
Book Title: The Hacker.
Genre(s): Cyber Crime Thriller.
Author: Stanley Moss.
Publisher (Year): Fingerprint Publishing (2012)
Number of Pages: 228
Price: Rs. 150/-