There’s a certain blend of horror and elation that accompanies disaster, and in Hari Kunzru’s Transmission, I found myself gleefully glued the chaos of a world turned upside-down by a well-intentioned Indian hacker named Arjun Mehta who unleashes “technological meltdown” unwittingly on the world. Arjun is a computer programmer who travels to America, where his visions of the American dream take a serious blow due to the extortionist work-visa he is tied to and that uniquely American reality of racism and classism. Working for pennies on the dollar compared to other American computer programmers, Arjun tries to will himself into a Bollywood-style life in Redmond, WA, until the tech-bubble bursts and he finds himself laid off. Desperate to keep his job at a Symantec-style virus protection company, Arjun decides to release a few variants of his very own viruses to raise demand. 200 odd pages and billions of dollars in global economic chaos later, Arjun is on the run and Indian film star Leela Zahir, who is featured in a vine associated with the virus (they call them Leela-varient viruses!) is also missing.
A sharp-witted, zany tale of immigration, class difference, the global tech and film industries, and World of Warcraft, this is a light but insightful book from the author of Gods Without Men and The Impressionist (I’d recommend Gods Without Men first and foremost, but I didn’t read it this summer so I can’t write about it). Pick it up and download it in a day or less.
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Availability: COSMOS and USMAI
Review Submitted by: Shane D. Hall
Rating: Highly Recommended