Book Review: A Team of Extraordinary Bastards by Arka Datta

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Arka Datta’s debut novel A Team Of Extraordinary Bastards comes out at the right time. Sports films have now become the in-trend thing both in Bollywood and Tollywood. With the release of films like Mary Kom, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Chaamp, Messi, there has been a growing interest among the readers about sports other than cricket too. The book makes its entry at just the right time.

The love for football among the Bengali fraternity is widely known all over the world. Despite cricket being declared as a religion in India, Bengalis and their passion for football is something worth noticing.

Arka Datta’s debut novel revolves around a young and talented boy named Arya Sen who is spotted early on by a coach for his abilities with the football. Like every Bengali parent, his parents are also doubtful at the beginning about his future in this field. However they allow him to play the game and he makes them proud with his achievements. Just when Arya thought that he was the luckiest boy on the planet, tragedy strikes in his life. What happens next? Can he overcome the hurdles that life throws at him?

One of the most striking features of the novel is the way it begins. The beginning has a cinematic appeal. With very minute descriptions of the way the match is being played, the writer successfully grabs the attention of the readers instantly. The simultaneous matches being described in the book also is full of such minute details. The intricate detailing of the matches makes one actually visualize the matches in their mind’s eyes. I will not be surprised if this book is made into a film, as the book is full of cinematic elements.

Characterization in the novel has also been done with much effort. The scepticism of a Bengali mother about her son entering football has been shown wonderfully through Sudipta’s character. The father who supports his child and also tries to reason with his wife has been shown wonderfully with the help of Chandan’s character. Arya and April’s character’s have been shown as they mature through the times passing by. These elements lend a certain authenticity to the characters and they become so much life like.

Despite being a book on football, the relationships between Arya and his family, Arya and April, Arya and his team mates have been dealt with in a good manner.

The language is simple and will be easy to grasp by the readers. The narrative structure of the novel as it hops between the past and the present is also interesting.

Arka Datta’s novel must feature on reading list. The novel teaches one to be positive and to overcome the hurdles in one’s life. A highly motivating novel!!

Priyanka Dutta

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