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Writer-Journalist Snigdha Poonam’s new book on India’s scam culture

New Delhi, 24 February 2021: Penguin Random House India proudly announces the acquisition and publication of another remarkable work of non-fiction by independent journalist and writer Snigdha Poonam. She once again navigates the sociocultural landscape of India and maps the evolution of corruption in the country. Titled India: A Scamster Born Every Minute, it is pegged to be an eye-opening exposé on the subculture of scams, cons and frauds in India. Acquired from the leading international literary agency, The Wylie Agency, it will be released under Penguin’s Viking imprint in 2022. Prior to this, Penguin had published Snigdha’s critically acclaimed debut book Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing the World in 2018.

In our country, corruption may seem deep-rooted, almost a way of life, and it must have started from somewhere. How did India get here? Does corruption exist only between governments and beneficiaries? Or can it happen between neighbours, Facebook friends and strangers across the country? How has corruption warped the Indian society? What does it mean for the social order, in India and elsewhere, when fraud becomes a way of life?

Drawing from extensive research, Snigdha Poonam examines the genesis behind one of the most notorious social epidemics of our times. Presenting multiple explanations and anecdotes, this book addresses the many issues that have given way to corruption and scams. From widespread unemployment, rising aspirations, a plunging economy and many other factors, this book uncovers the reality behind fraud and deception.

Commenting on the upcoming book, Snigdha Poonam says, ‘Having reported on scams of various kinds for some years now, I find that few stories capture the realities of today’s India better than those revolving around fraud. A book following the trail of scams across India seemed like a natural next step. I am grateful to Penguin Random House India for the opportunity and excited to work with them once again.’

Half Ocean’s Eleven, half Slumdog Millionaire, this book reveals how scamsters work – their inventiveness, determination and willingness to adapt. It shows how various scams evolve or spread in India, explore the cross-border connections that make fraud a global phenomenon and demonstrate how fraud and globalisation are ultimately connected.

Meru Gokhale, Publisher, Penguin Press, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘Snigdha Poonam has done it again. By delving into the aspirations of ordinary individuals, existing socioeconomic forces and institutional setbacks, her new book offers insight into the very genesis of India’s widespread scam culture. She intricately weaves instances of fraud with social commentary and analysis, and her new book is as much a portrait of the contemporary class-divide in India as it is a stunning work of investigative journalism. We can’t wait to share it with the world.’

About the author

Snigdha Poonam is a journalist based in New Delhi. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Caravan, Granta and other publications. Her first book, Dreamers, won 2018’s Crossword Book Award for nonfiction and was longlisted in 2019 for PEN America Literary Awards.