The Illegitimate Dollars by Atul Sharma is a riveting contemporary novel about the protagonist Arjun’s life journey in a foreign country. As the title entails the word ‘Dollars’, it’s obvious that it has some foreign connection.
On the story side, it’s about Arjun, a young and ambitious boy from Lucknow. He manages to get a job on a cruise ship commencing from Miami port. Being a young lad, he is full of dreams and optimism, but as sooner he gets in contact with a senior chef name Ranjeet on the ship, he begins feeling the shock of reality. The world is not full of patrons and lifters; rather one has to work hard to carve out his destiny. Well, his struggle starts soon when he is accused of something which he didn’t commit.
Going ahead, you will find yourself shuttling between present and past, well that is called the flashback technique, which links all the events in a wonderful yet interesting manner. Also, one of the concealed themes in the novel is acclimatization to foreign soil or unknown ambience. When Arjun gets on the cruise ship, he gets to know bad and good types of people. Well, he was upfront for most of the tasks, but somewhere deep in his heart he was struggling to come up with the terms. Life wasn’t as straight as it seemed, especially when one has to deal with immigration laws and values.
The author succeeded in portraying a sense of allegiance and responsibility towards the family. In fact, to an extent, Arjun was right in casting a positive influence on his family and sibling. His world in the USA was way different; he was getting hurt by his failures and self-expectations, but at the same time, he wasn’t allowed to showcase as he was bound by some vital duties and morals.
In the novel, a lot has been showed about cruise ship culture, hierarchy, life, and of course politics. Someone who has worked in the sea will be able to connect soon and those who wish to have a look at that type of life can definitely pick up this book.
Also, the coverage about odd jobs in the USA is somewhat fascinating. At large, the novel covers a life journey which is rich with internal information along with some adventures and misdeeds. The second part of the novel inclines towards romance build up, as when Arjun and Sameera get along well. Two stories converging for one point, and the villain presumably seems one person for both. Who’s that? Find out when you pick up the novel.
The novel feels closely connected with personal touchups of the author, but the way it chugs ahead with ups and downs, it becomes evident and clear that fiction aroma has been added in sheer brilliance. There is more than the story of just Arjun and his struggles, rather you will get to know a kind of scaffolding that is inherent everywhere, be it India or the USA.
Development of characters and ossification of events and situations in the novel is commendable, while reading one may get curious to know the future of Arjun’s stay in the USA and his relationship status with Sameera. Well, for that one needs to really pick up this fast-paced novel. On the writing part, the author has done a great job. There are no glaring errors and narration, however at times some odd jobs look monotonous. But that is perfectly fine as the novel is more about someone’s life journey than a compressed fictionalized tale. Highly recommended.