My Rebuttal To Mr Abhijit Ray’s Review of My Book: A TO Z OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO EXCELLED IN SPORTS
I just came back yesterday after an exhaustive four day journey to Chennai which included a complete medical checkup in Apollo hospitals. Fortunately the reports clearly indicated that I do not have any major problems except for being grossly overweight and diabetic which is anyway not news to me. I have been having this problem for the past four or five years. But my doctor did mention one thing when my wife complained that after an exhausting 9 to 10 hours in office, I come back home and spend another 3 to 4 hours on my laptop attending to writing. He tut-tutted, shook his head, looked at me sternly and said, ‘This will not do Jai, you can either write or work in an office. You can’t do both’.
Consequently I resolved to go very light on blogging and other writing from now on. But this post is one I felt I really needed to write as soon as possible. Recently my book ‘A TO Z OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO EXCELLED IN SPORTS’ was reviewed by Mr Abhijit Ray. This review was part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program and I found certain criticism which makes it clear that Mr Abhijit Ray does not understand the premise of my book clearly. Please do read Mr. Ray’s review here. I think Mr Ray while reading the book has clearly forgotten to read the section ‘Author’s Note’ which is present in the first few pages of the book.
I have written two books in the thriller fiction genre and I have received a number of reviews which are negative. My good friend Tomichan Matheikal criticised my second book, my friend Sona Grover pointed out certain glaring errors in my first book, recently Oitree Deb has also written a review of my book where she has expressed some dissatisfaction. But all these people have understood the premise of my book and have told me what they felt and I have not questioned their reviews. In fact to tell the truth I have never written a rebuttal to a review in all my life. But I really do feel that Mr Ray in his eagerness to review my book has asked certain questions which need to be answered.
Now here are my rebuttals to some of the points Mr Abhijit Ray has mentioned in his review.
Mr Ray says:
Of different sports persons, cricketers with 42% have occupied lion’s share of authors interest and attention. Footballers and tennis players have got 11% coverage. Boxers, shuttlers and chess players have got 7.6% coverage, while hockey, athletics and gymnastics have got only 3.8% space.
Mr Ray is a pharmacist who works in R & D if I am not mistaken. He is a scientist. I think he deals in drug research though I am not sure. And I also feel he often deals with the job of quantifying the chemical ingredients of the drugs he makes. True to habit he has taken the trouble to calculate the percentage of sports persons in different sports who appear in my book. I am not sure what the purpose of this exercise is unless he meant to show that the sporting personalities are not evenly distributed in my book. I would like to tell Mr Ray that first of all when I write a book it is an expression of my inner preferences. And I never had any intentions of evenly distributing the sports personalities in the limited 26 chapters I had at my disposal. Yes, Mr Ray, I am partial to cricket as is whole of India. If at all you know anything about sports you must realise that Cricket is akin to religion in India and in my case I have played cricket for both my school and college teams. And this liking for cricket is reflected in my book. Just imagine the number of sports played in this world! If I were to cover all the sports there will be one person from one sport per chapter. This book, let me inform you Mr. Ray is meant for an Indian audience and it is my book and reflects my choices. And so Cricket occupies a prominent space and other sporting personalities are delegated a secondary role and I honestly do not see what is wrong with that.
Mr Ray says:
Writing a book on prominent sports personalities that have excelled in their respective fields of expertise is always very difficult. Given the diversity of sporting disciplines, continuously breaking world records, and emergence of new stars, makes it a challenge whom to include and whom to omit. This problem becomes more complex, when an author is working following the format of A to Z blogging challenge. As per rule of the competition, every post, in this case sports person, should have a letter specific for the day. No wonder we find mention of Quinton de Kock and Yuzvendra Chahal. Both these players may be good, they are yet to attain the stature to share the space with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar.
Mr Ray is miffed at the mention of Quinton De Kock and Yuzvendra Chahal in this list. Mr Ray, I think you mentioned this in a comment in the FaceBook post of the #Blogchatter A to Z linky and I took the trouble to explain to you that this book does have some unorthodox choices. Quinton De Kock and Yuzvendra Chahal are personal favourites and they are up and coming players. You are telling me that they may be good but they cannot occupy the same space with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar. Mr Ray, please please go to the section titled ‘Author’s Note’ and read it again. Understand, I am not trying to maintain uniformity here. I have clubbed people together and I would be the first person to admit that Yuzvendra Chahal and Quinton De Kock are not in the same class as Sachin Tendulkar. But then the intention of this book is not to club sports persons of the same calibre together. Yuzvendra Chahal was in fact a chess player and because of a difficulty in getting a sponsor he had the determination to switch to a sport like Cricket which is totally different from Chess and has even managed to secure a place in the 2019 world cup team. And Quinton De Kock is playing for the South African team. They may not be greats but then when you look at the title of my book it clearly says ‘MEN AND WOMEN WHO EXCELLED IN SPORTS’. Now these two are international players. So they do fit the bill if you go by the title of the book.
Mr Ray Says:
One omission that is glaring in my mind is leaving out Ussain Bolt from under the alphabet U. The author has included Robin Uthappa. While Ussain Bolt remains all time greatest sprinter, Robin Uthappa may not find space in best eleven in Indian Premier League.
Really Mr. Ray, I am speechless! Usain Bolt is a very well known personality. Robin Uthappa is a personal favourite. Mr Ray, you seem to imagine that this book was meant to be a collection of stories of sporting greats. I repeat, please do look at the title of the book: A TO Z OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO EXCELLED IN SPORTS. If I were to write a book on sporting greats then I wouldn’t have used the word EXCELLED. The tile would be: A TO Z OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO ROSE TO BECOME SPORTING GREATS. If that had been the title then your angst at the omission of USAIN BOLT may be justified. And Robin Uthappa has EXCELLED in the sporting world. He has played for INDIA in the WORLD CUP. If that does not qualify as EXCELLING IN SPORT I do not know what does.
Mr Ray says:
My intention is not to criticise unnecessarily, more so given the constraints under which the author was functioning. Still it will be unfair not to point out could we have not included greats like Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar or Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the book, given that out of 11 cricketers profiled we have five Indians. Along similar lines, it can be argued that of three footballers included in the book, Messi and Ronaldo do not have a world cup under their belt. Could any excellence in football field ever be complete without including Pele and Maradona?
You say your intention is not to criticise unnecessarily but I find what you are saying is nothing short of nitpicking. This is what I mean by not understanding the premise of a book. You seem to think that I have to include only the best in all fields. That was never my intention. This book was also meant to entertain. It has my stamp. Mr. Ray if you are so eager to write a book on only the best in every field do so. I was simply not trying to do that. And then, Mr Ray, believe me, I am a great admirer of Pele and Maradonna. But Ronaldo and Messi are considered two of the greatest football legends of their generation. You know something Mr. Ray, if you look at my A TO Z post for Ronaldo you will find it is dedicated to a number of people. Several children from my daughter’s school came up to me and said, ‘Uncle, please Ronaldo next’. And you seem to believe that just because Pele and Maradonna have held the world cup in their hands I have to include them in my book. I am sorry to say this, you have completely misunderstood my intentions in writing this book. I am not going by any criteria like people holding the world cup in their hands or any such thing. And as far as Messi and Ronaldo are concerned your point is absurd because they are known the world over and are greats in their own right. I would like to point out a few facts to you. When Messi announced his retirement prematurely, the Prime Minister of Argentina personally spoke to him asking him to reconsider. People were holding placards all over the country saying ‘Come Back Leo. We love you!’ The Mayor of Messi’s home city unveiled his statue and pleaded with him to return.
I think I have spoken enough. Take a bit of advice from someone who has some experience in writing reviews, Mr. Ray. When you write a review do not let your personal prejudices interfere. Above all, remember that when a writer writes a book it is an expression of his ideas. And please do make it a point to understand the premise of the book and what it aims at. I repeat again this was not a book meant to highlight sporting greats. This was meant for easy reading and tries to give room for the old and the new, the brilliant and the not so brilliant and last but not the least the choices of sports persons is my personal choice. I was not aiming at an audience. Next time I write a book, I promise I will consult you.