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Investment banker and poker enthusiast Prateek Shukla’s book weaves a spy story with a witty undertone

Investment banker and poker enthusiast Prateek Shukla’s book weaves a spy story with a witty undertone

The second book by investment banker and poker enthusiast Prateek Shukla
love bet (
Buddha’s House of Mirrors is his first book) is a spy thriller, but it’s much more than that. Dive into it and discover that the author looks at the life and internal conflicts of millennials through a spiritual lens. You think that’s a lot of layers, but then you discover that poker fiction in the young adult thriller genre weaves parallel stories of two orphans – Alia and Suhana – prodigies of poker and the science of explosives. The fast-paced narrative has poetic nuggets with a witty undertone in a suspense-filled spy story.

London-based Prateek (his pen name Shuklaji takes after what friends and family tell him) was born in Varanasi into a line of spiritual masters and teachers. “The scribbles of the past have stayed with me,” he says of his fascination with storytelling, despite a career in finance. Since childhood, he has been writing stories, poems and ghazals, which gradually turned into blogs and articles.

Prateek believes spontaneity helps him straddle both banking and writing. Through all the changes and its multiple interests, poker has remained a constant, he says. So it’s no surprise
Bet… combines elements of spirituality and mythology with the thrill of a poker game. Poker was added as an element in his book due to the evolution of the narrative around the game in India from a sport of gambling to a sport of skill. “As a poker enthusiast, I wanted to help voice my support for the game with the prominent voices in the poker community who provided reviews for the book.”

In an email interview, Prateek Shukla shares his inspirations and the role of spirituality in his writings. Excerpts from the interview.

book cover

book cover

How did you
love bet lift-off?

“The dots connect when I look back,” paraphrasing Steve Jobs, suits me. I have always debated spirituality, mythology and history with my parents who encouraged me to create rather than criticize. Since I had the structure of the story in mind, it took a month for the first draft. Millennials have opened up the discussion around consciousness and spirituality more than the previous generation because we are more connected as the world gets smaller; combine that with my enthusiasm for poker and you realize my love for writing.

Were the characters and the worlds they inhabit inspired by real life?

The setup was inspired by my first book
The House of Buddha Mirrors. Alia confers with a Buddha to make sense of her anger at the divine for making her an orphan, but with a gift of numbers. Any spiritual quest is self-introspection into identity. The various character arcs in the book are inspired by the Spirit Threads. The questions raised by these characters, the resulting solutions, and the abstract analysis of their decisions are inspired by real-life conversations with spiritual masters and readings of translated versions of Vedas and philosophical and religious schools of thought.

My goal was to make sure the characters matched their age, but explored their mature side, became responsible for their choices, and introspected different emotions as they entered the adult world.

Were you skeptical about the millennial connection to the spiritual tone of the book?

Spiritual theories and thoughts are always open to debate and embrace diverse opinions, so the ease or difficulty of applying them depends on understanding their contextual depth. Reading the Gita and the Vedas, the Buddhist theories and principles behind Vedanta, listening to spiritual talks and stories takes time to introspect and that’s something I see millennials doing with ease. . We see dialogues around self-awareness with debates on religion, atheism, mythology – with intriguing questions about identity.

The language of the book is simple and the short, quick narration contains poetic excerpts and ghazals. I’m sure to keep readers hooked.

Stories that weave together history and spirituality with the thrill of a game like poker and a spy story in a genre for young adults, have managed to gain millennial approval, all the more so. given the rise of OTT platforms.

Can you explain how you tried to balance various elements – poker game, spy thriller, spirituality and more – in the book?

I put a lot of work into developing four characters to give them their individual journeys to a central plot, which helped shape a balanced narrative. As Alia kicks off the story by talking to a Buddha, emphasizing the spiritual narrative, Suhana brings out elements of mythology. Jackie and Karan help pace the thriller’s narrative around a criminal circle and the introduction of a spy ring to take it down.

Both of your books have a spiritual tone. Do you lead a spiritual life?

On an experimental basis, yes! I have always been open to learning about spiritual and religious schools of thought and experiencing their application in life. Nevertheless, as a human being, I too go through ups and downs with different emotions and I make mistakes, but the tools of meditative awareness and observation through a spiritual lens help me go further. quickly and create something of my own – two books and many more to come!

(Author’s Channel “Gamble of Love”, ₹259)