cover image How to Kidnap the Rich

How to Kidnap the Rich

Rahul Raina. HarperPerennial, $17 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-302878-4

Irony and satire collide in Raina’s sparkling debut about a crooked college consultant and his inadvertent role in the making of a celebrity. Ramesh Kumar grows up in poverty and is forced to work in his abusive father’s tea stall in Delhi, until he meets a nun who helps him get an education. By the age of 24, he’s become a self-described “charming, witty, urbane man-about-town,” and a successful con artist. He tutors elite high school students, scams their parents for extra cash to cover “expenses,” and takes their college entrance exams in their place. After Ramesh achieves the top score in the country for sweet but dim Rudi Saxena, Rudi receives nationwide TV coverage and Ramesh becomes his manager. The two consume a great deal of drugs and alcohol as Rudi basks in the spotlight. Then, during Rudi’s appearance on a game show, Ramesh and Rudi are kidnapped from the set. They escape, and the experience gives Ramesh the idea for his biggest hustle yet, with Rudi as an accomplice. Raina ably shows both the seedy and privileged parts of Indian society through Ramesh’s biting wit (“My hate could have made India the world’s leader in renewable energy,” he reflects on his time in the tea stall). Readers will enjoy the ride. (June)