Book review of ” BOMBAY FEVER” By SIDIN VADUKUT

REVIEW BY DR SONAL KALIA

Edited by Vipul Murarka

 After the humour filled dork series, Sidin Vadukut has changed genres and written this book which is a medical thriller interspersed with details about Indianpolitical scenario, journalism and loop holes in the Indian medical system. His narrative is fast paced and gripping in most parts except where he goes into details of Indian politics. In the parts in which he is highlighting politics and the healthcare system it starts to feel like a satire of sorts rather than a typical medical thriller.

 He has created a deadly disease which is not just spreading fast but is killing faster as well. His description of the disease and its manifestations both inside the body and externally visible features are very immaculate. Despite being a doctor, upon pondering that this disease could reach India, the mere thought sent shivers down my spine. So I congratulate the author for creating a unique disease manifestation type in quite a convincing manner. 

 What I found mediocre was the description of the healthcare teams perhaps because the author is sitting in the U.K. and did not do ground research in India about measures taken in swine flu or dengue epidemics now. His sole reference point is the plague of Surat and I must say Mr.Vadukut Indian healthcare has evolved after that and Indian doctors are very industrious even in the USA. Yes we lack in lot of areas in health care and infrastructure but look at the sheer population Indian doctors are dealing with. Over the counter drugs is a major issue in India and big pharma and the government has a role to play there and not the unsuspecting consumer or the doctor oppressed by the system. Does the author realise that it takes weeks to get a specialist appointment in the ​United States of America whereas Indian doctors deal with ever increasing load of patients as soon as possible. The author depicts several hundreds of deaths yet does not highlight doctors efforts in a big way. Lack of medical insurance and mandatory annual physician check-ups is another bane of Indian medicine but instead he highlights illegal nursing homes in certain areas of the city. 

 His book makes passing remarks on sensational journalism and creates the fancy Indian opinion and mentions the unscrupulous “buzzfeed” disguised as ” buzzwire.” Then he has dabbled cautiously into the world of politics by showing the backstabbing nature of Indian politicians as if everywhere else in the world politics is a fair game. He fabricates honest politicians and honest officers in a sea of pompous dishonest ones. Using the name of Arvind Kejriwal directly was a clever ploy to sneak in some reality. Going into the past of Indian political history to create a safety system for Indian leadership felt like an addition done after watching “White House Down” in between the book after being bored of the gory pathological details of the disease.

 The book would have been better without stepping into an imaginary past for safeguarding the Indian premier and if it would have featured some main lovable character catching the disease, the reader’s emotions would have been more engaged. Here one is terrified of the disease because it has spread internationally thanks to the aviation industry is depicted impeccably but one does not feel sorrow and the angst associated with death of some relatable character. When you wake up and read the newspaper about some disease affecting 100 folks faraway is how the disease has been dealt with in terms of death. 

I read this book in a single sitting because I wanted to know how the microbe is spreading and intricacies of the disease were taking me back to my MBBS days remembering all the viral and bacterial epidemics I had read. The background of the story or its plot makes it “un-put-downable”. So I would rate the book as 4/5 for its fast paced plot but 2/5 for emotional quotient and 3/5 overall for unnecessarily stepping nay just peeking into several bylanes like politics, journalism, problems of healthcare along the path of solving his first medical thriller of sorts.

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