Traditionally, the humour and satire genre has got a rough deal from the high priests of literature. It has mostly been cast aside as flippant and considered inferior to the purportedly nobler and higher emotions. Luckily, there are occasions when a book elegantly challenges and flips such notions of superiority on their head.
HAPPIMESS by Biswajit Banerji is definitely one such book that merits attention, the way it beautifully unleashes the power of humour and satire. This book has a dozen stories which are at once hilarious and stimulating, making the reader laugh as well as forcing him/her to reflect on the individual and social peculiarities. There cannot be a better time to dive into a fun-filled book like this when the scenario is depressing and the mind is heavy with worry and woes.
To begin with, I have to look twice at the title to be sure what it really is – HAPPIMESS. Going through, I feel that there could not have been a more creative title to capture the mess and dilemmas the stories narrate and the comedic response of the protagonists. The cover art perfectly matches the comic content and thanks to the publisher, the book is a real delight to hold in the hands.
When you have a book that states in its introduction that ‘Humour is the last resort of a failed reformist … and by the end of this book, the reader will be able to happily reconnect with the mean and the wicked part of one’s inner self ….’, you need to sit up and take notice of the seemingly outrageous claims. I believe that by the end, the reader will indeed feel surprised to be transported to a world full of mischiefs, blatantly sharp observations and most funny and outlandish pranks.
The author has not looked far and conjured up his humorous stories from the nooks and corners of everyday life and that is a difficult art. Generally we get used to the monotony of the regular life but here Biswajit has done a remarkable job by casting a different eye on the daily happenings and picking-out humour that lies buried deep down.
The settings of these stories are what you and I encounter everyday like faulty home appliances, clever colleagues in office, nosy insurance agents, people who haggle too much, petty neighbours, off-beat diseases and farewell events, to mention a few. What makes these stories an unmissable treat is the extraordinarily messy situations they describe and the funny twists and turns that follow. It is delightful to see how such a wide array of tools have been used to generate humour like observational humour, exaggeration, distortion, scatological, slapstick and inventive word-plays.
What is most remarkable about HAPPIMESS is how it is a complete cover-to-cover package of wit and humour and does not offer a single dull moment. Right from the very creative book dedication and the acknowledgement to the last story, every single line drips with stinging and uncanny satire. Mostly written in the first person, the stories take off from simple premises that unfold into rampantly funny disorderliness.
It is quite difficult to pick-up my favorites from the book simply because each story has a unique theme and presentation style that can leave you in fits of laughter. ‘Humans and Electricals’, the opening one mocks the seemingly evil human influence on electrical home appliances and shows how that causes a rift in the marital life. While the story ‘From BAD to SORDID’ is a telling satire on office-dynamics, the next one ‘A Matter Of Life(Insurance) and Death’ humorously describes the painful experience of being chased by nosy life-insurance agents for policies. ‘The Haggler’s Manual’ is a most unusual and witty take on the practice of Haggling. The last one, ‘A Farewell Through Arms’ is a perfect icing on the cake that hilariously describes a farewell-speech that goes awry and invites violent reactions from the retiring staff.
The writing style needs a special mention here which is marked by a constant undertone of mockery and irony. The language used is conversational yet mostly dead-pan, say like someone telling a funny incident without actually showing any change in the facial appearance. I believe it is a deliberate ploy by the author to mask his intentions to satirize the elements of the society. Locksley Hall Publishing has done a wonderful job as one feels such a joy to hold this bundle of happiness (or Happimess should I say)in the hands.
So, in conclusion, HAPPIMESS is a must recommendation for anyone who enjoys clean and unorthodox humour in literature and does not mind chuckling, giggling and laughing out loud while reading.