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The Middleman

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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  150 ratings  ·  16 reviews
'A veil had descended on the city. It wasn't very late, but Somnath felt as though the sun had suddenly set on impenetrable forest, giving way to a dangerous darkness.'

1970s Calcutta. The city is teeming with thousands of young men in search of work. Somnath Banerjee spends his days queuing up at the employment exchange. Unable to find a job despite his qualifications, Som
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Paperback, 200 pages
Published June 17th 2009 by Penguin (first published 1973)
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The Story of a Widow by Musharraf Ali FarooqiAtlas of Unknowns by Tania JamesA Disobedient Girl by Ru FreemanThe Middleman by SankarIn Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
DSC Prize 2011 Longlist
4th out of 16 books — 3 voters
The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe White Tiger by Aravind AdigaMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best Indian Books
482nd out of 604 books — 1,795 voters


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Community Reviews

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Ashwin
The Middleman is the second in the series of translations of Shankar's novels by Arunava Sinha.The book was made into a movie by Satyajit Ray in 1976.

Surprisingly though the book is set in 70's India, it still has freshness and relativity factor to it.It is good to read a book about which is not b -school authors where characters are soul searching or solving problems of love life.This one is about youth who has a graduation degree , but unable to secure a job,Shankar descirbes this frustration
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Girish
Sankar's Middleman translated by Arunava Sinha is probably not relevant today but echoes the horror of the society in 70s. The book traces the fall of Somnath Banerjee, an idealistic jobless youth with a supportive family, by the values of 70s.

The narrative is unsettling with it's calmness around the bleakness(?). In the afterword the author felt bad his book offers no hope to the reader. Characters are so entrenched in reality. Kamala as the concerned sister-in-law offers warmth and hope all th
...more
Vaibhav Anand
Men, authors, books come and go and yet our country remains filled with angst ridden youth. Sankar’s Middleman is a Bengali novel translated to English and even though it chronicles the life of an unemployed young man in 1970’s Calcutta (as it was called then), it could well have been set in 2014 in any of our country’s cities.

Somnath Bannerjee is a young man who was average at studies in 70’s Calcutta and is thus, unemployed as of date in the book, even though he has been looking for a job for
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Neha
"Human Jungle" rightly defines the dillemas and issues faced by us in today's world.. with plethora of people trying to get the same things, competing for same jobs, admissions, awards.. it is all a matter of taking shortcuts, PR, contacts & underhand..2+2 is not equal to 4.. it can be anything from zero to hundred.. Hardwork is not the key to success, knowledge is not equal to respect.. a lot of old sayings & principals have gone stale..

I only think how long will this last.. how long wi
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Manish
A powerful take on unemployment and the collective frustration of an entire generation of the 60s and 70s. Set in Kolkata, this gem from Sankar is about the vicissitudes of Somnath Banerjee who, after a couple of years of struggling to find a job, decides to become a middleman matching 'demand and supply' for stationery items. But the elation of finding a foothold in life soon slides to despair when he realizes that at times there is more to sealing a deal than just a transparent negotiation. Th ...more
Vinay
Circa 1970 when the then aam aadmi was struggling to find a job that could fetch him a meal for a day. The Calcutta backdrop makes it more enjoyable to read. Throughout, the author reminds me of the Tamil classic movie starring Kamal Haasan 'Varumaiyin Niram Sigapu'.
Kusal Perera
Interesting reading. Simple story with peeps into human relationships and into many tiny corners of human character. More like a Narayan's Malgudi story in an urban setting and a personalised fix on the story.
Adithya Kalyan
A common man's journey to earn a job and living. Very well told by Sankar. Pinches you deep on the lifestyle of the urban India and focuses more the vanishing values in the society.
Anirban
superb ...the way Sankar has written about unemployment n the climax is very delicately handled ..it gives u a realistic glimpse of the business game..
Vatsan
Seem a lot of movies of a similar nature, especially in Tamil, disillusioned youth from the 70s and 80s. Interesting nevertheless.
Vikrant Dadawala
I'd call this and the film Ray made out of it xenophobic (in the sense you could use this word in India) but I'm biased
Supriya
Sad, bitter, angry and wonderful in a tradition as much of Amitabh Bachchan as of Satyajit Ray.
Manish
Short and sweet... Lovely read.
Abhishek Achal
Good but depressing book
Afshan
As Khokon, the lead character of the novel would say, it was looking at lives getting lost in the "human jungle". Made me cry a lot but am glad I experienced it.
Samarpita
unputdownable!
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  • Dahan (The Burning)
  • সেরা সত্যজিৎ
  • শরৎ সাহিত্য সমগ্র
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  • কালবেলা (অনিমেষ, #২)
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Shankar's real name is Mani Shankar Mukherjee. Sankar is a very popular writer in the Bengali language. He grew up in Howrah district of West Bengal, India.
Shankar's father died while Shankar was still a teenager, as a result of which Shankar became a clerk to the last British barrister of the Calcutta High Court, Noel Frederick Barwell. The experience of working under Mr. Barwell provided the mat
...more
More about Sankar...
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