Books Reviews

Book Review: The One Who Wrote Destiny By Nikesh Shukla

"Who is the one who writes destiny? Some say he is the cousin of death. Others say he is the accountants of our life, sitting there, making note of everything we do, checking it against a balance sheet."

What’s The Book About?

Neha has just been diagnosed with the same terminal cancer that killed her mother. Was this her destiny? She codes a computer program to find out, one that intricately maps out her entire life and the lives of those closest to her: her dad, who left Kenya for windblown northern England; her brother, a struggling comedian whose star is finally beginning to rise; her grandmother, who lost the man she loved to racist violence. By understanding the past, Neha hopes to come to terms with her present – and reckon with her family’s and her country’s future.

The Review

This book deals with a lot of heavy themes: destiny, racism, death and violence. It is a family saga told through different perspectives. We start with Mukesh, who migrates from Kenya to Keighley in the early 1960s. There he meets Nisha and falls in love. Mukesh and Nisha’s love story is heart warming but it’s set in a backdrop that is rife with racial violence and tension. It’s all written in a way that feels so familiar. There is a scene where a community play is violently interrupted by a racist mob and it was so vivid, it put a stop in my tracks. 

The following sections are about their children, Neha and Rakesh. Neha has been diagnosed with cancer, the same disease her mother died of. Being a programmer, she sets on an experiment to map out her entire life and see if she can cheat destiny. She doesn’t cheat destiny and I have to say I struggled to connect with this section of book. The pace was too slow and something about it didn’t work. 

Rakesh is a stand up comedian and his narrative was fascinating from the angle of the struggles of being an immigrant. This advice perfectly captures his inner struggle with his identity, “You don’t need to be the voice of all the brown people any more. There’s enough of them around now that you don’t represent all of us..Don’t ever think you need to be the voice of a generation. Because that is the quickest way to being a sell-out.”

Do you have a destiny? Can you outrun it? 

The theme of this book is what attracted me to pick it up. The subject of destiny is an interesting theme to wrestle with. I did enjoy the exploration but I don’t think the execution worked out as great as it could have been.

So what did I love? 

The final section of this book is set in Kenya in 1988 and focuses on Nisha’s mother called Ba. Her narrative was the most complex and moving for me! She’s given the responsibility of looking after the twins following their mother’s death. I loved seeing the bonding process with her two grand children.  I wish the novel spent more time on her and her back story. 

Also, this book has a lot of profound words and food for thought. I genuinely struggled to narrow them down for my insta because there was so many things worth exploring and discussing.

Other thoughts?

I am giving this a hit and miss rating purely because I was bored at some points. But I genuinely think it’s a book that will resonate with people in one way or another so it’s worth reading. The theme of ‘destiny’ will make you reflect a lot about life, decisions and the choices we make.

Top Three Quotes

“A man’s actions are more important than his ancestry. Your DNA, your genes, you worry too much about them. Worry about what you do in life.”


“The present is the only thing that actually exists and so when we have to be fully engaged in what is happening right this second, we have the power to change our future, to change the world. All change comes from this moment.”


✯✯✯ – Hit and Miss

Guide to Book Review Rating
✯ – Meh
✯✯ – Read at your own risk
✯✯✯ – Hit and Miss
✯✯✯✯- Hooked
✯✯✯✯✯- Life Companion. Thank me later!


I pray that you benefited from this post and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Subscribe via email for exclusive content and new post notifications. Listen to my podcast Bookversations here.


      1. Cool cool, I write well.
        Keep writing.
        M just another virtual person.
        But still I can feel u and your writings.
        And I want you to know m grateful.
        Sometimes nothing helps but reading.
        I guess it’s too long a conversation for meeting.
        But just know that I r making a huge difference. And keep doing that if possible.


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