This book is an important contribution to the various literature available on Jammu and Kashmir, do read it if history and current events interest you
Thursday, December 8, 2011
This book is an important contribution to the various literature available on Jammu and Kashmir, do read it if history and current events interest you
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Reviewed by: Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
When you are asked to review a book by one of your favourite authors, and that too, on a subject that you have been passionate about ever since you have been a little kid, then the task at hand can only be a pleasant one. Well, that is exactly what reviewing Devdutt Pattanaik’s “7 Secrets of Vishnu” was for me. I have been an avid mythology buff ever since I can remember and the passion has only intensified with time.
I have been reading Devdutt Pattanaik’s work for quite a while now. Not just me, in fact, but my eight-year-old son as well, who is a fan of Pattanaik’s “Adventures in Devlok” series.
The Hindu trinity, as we all know, comprises of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. The symbols and rituals connected to Each One are markedly different. And why not? It stands to reason as They represent different levels of consciousness. They do not look like Each Other, nor do They behave similarly and They perform different duties. Pattanaik’s “7 Secrets of Vishnu” attempts to help the reader decipher the symbology and unlock the secrets behind the stories and rituals associated with Lord Vishnu.
Through the stories of Vishnu, complex Hindu ideologies and philosophies have been communicated in an easy to read manner. Issues that we have always wondered about have been addressed beautifully by the author. Like, for example, why are the Devas and Asuras, both the offspring of Brahma, always at war? The saga of the never-ending battles between the Devas and the Asuras bring to light the emotional turmoil faced by both; the Devas also represent insecurity while the Asuras embody ambition and thus the constant state of unrest.
The book takes us through the various avatars assumed by Him on Earth. Divided into seven chapters, each one helps us in understanding key concepts and in delving into the mysteries of the Divine. I learnt so many new things from each of these chapters, which is always very exciting. For example, I learnt about Alakshmi, the Sister of Lakshmi who accompanies her Sister wherever She goes and She represents strife. The entire passage about how Lakshmi arose from amrit and Alakshmi from halahala – brilliant! Also the gem about how Shukracharya, guru to the Asuras, lost an eye when Vishnu descended to Earth as Vamana, the Brahmin dwarf, was a new story for me to imbibe and marvel over. The absolute crowning jewel for me was how Pattanaik beautifully explained that Luv-Kush’s victory over their father showed that dharma rests with Sita and not Ayodhya! Brilliant! As one who has always been furious over the treatment meted out to Sita in the epic, this one statement was a fist-pumping hurrah! moment. Yes, it has been explained time and again that Ram put his kingly duties above his personal needs, but that only serves to make him the Perfect King, not the Perfect Man.
The photographs of ancient artwork and temple sculptures help bring the book alive, especially with their little bubbles of explanation. Colour photography would have been greatly appreciated, of course, but that’s nitpicking. An index would also have been of great use, and I strongly suggest the publishers think of adding one in the next edition.
All in all, a great read and one I would urge all mythology buffs to immediately indulge in!
(This book is reviewed by Baisali Chatterjee Dutt. Baisali blogs at http://firstname.lastname@example.org )
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Quest was born in 1954, a magazine that was published out of Bombay (now Mumbai) with Nissim Ezekiel at its helm. After successfully publishing it for two decades the magazine collapsed during the Emergency period.
An intellectual magazine for the discerning reader with articles contributed by the best names that light up newspapers, magazines, academic journals and even television screens today. The common link between them? They all made their mark with a piece in Quest.
The Best of Quest brings to the reader the best of stories, essays and poems published in the magazine. Hence making the book a treasure trove of well written, well argued articles. It gives the reader insights into the political and social history of independent India.
Some of the articles in the book, in all honesty, were difficult for me to fathom or read through. But some were exceptionally brilliant. The book is edited by Lafeq Futehally, who worked as the Literary Editor with the Quest for over twenty years. Achal Prabhala who is a writer and researcher in Bangalore. Arshia Sattar who works with classical Indian Literature and teaches at various institutions across the country.
So you have eminent writers such as Nirad Chaudhuri, P.Lal. Jyotirmoy Datta, Khushwant Singh, Dilip Chitre, Ashis Nandy and others who have contributed towards the magazine. Poetry contributed by Dom Moraes, Kamala Das, Nissim Ezekiel. Mukul Sharma makes this section extremely interesting.
The pieces are well selected and show the kind of enrichment in terms of knowledge and thoughts the magazine brought to its readers. You know when you read through the book the editors have worked with a passion to make this book worth a collectible for every reader.Do pick this book up to get a better understanding of the country we live in by the writers who are the very best in the industry today. The book is a fitting tribute to a man who headed the magazine.
This particular review of BBC Knowledge’s long overdue. I should have reviewed it much sooner, in fact as soon as I read it. I am not much of a magazine person except for the weekly news magazines but whatever issues I read I found the magazine an enjoyable read.
So here goes. I had got two magazines for review one was the which covered– Does god exist?And the other was Jan/Feb issue with “So you want to be a spy “as the cover story. The cover stories were good and interesting to read. The picture and print quality of the magazine was at par with other international magazines.
This bi-monthly magazine encompasses 3 main topics - science, history and nature. Besides these topics the magazine is also divided into sections like updates, round-ups, comment & analysis, insights, world news in context, Q&A, reviews, etc.
I personally found the content in-depth, well researched and written in simple and easy to read language.
It is worth a read or rather a long term subscription! Go ahead-enjoy!
Monday, November 7, 2011
Also making news at Thinkfest were Arvind Kejriwal, Shashi Tharoor ,Omar Abdullah and Shehrbano Taseer. From Bollywood we had Abhay Deol and Aamir Khan who were the news makers at the event.
Here's the FB page that will give you all the information you were looking for!
Until next year then....
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The one session we at The Book Lovers are looking forward to at the Think Festival event? It has got to be Explaining India: The Most Persistent Mistakes we Make with Pavan Varma, William Dalrymple and Ashish Nandy.
William Dalrymple after spending many years in India and travelling through length and breadth of this country would definitely enrich the session with his insights and knowledge. Ashis Nandy needs no introduction he is an Indian political psychologist and a contemporary cultural and political critic. He is, without a doubt, India's most formidable and controversial intellectual, its most arresting thinker, and a cultural and political critic without perhaps any equal in South Asia. And joining the two would be Pavan Varma , he is a senior bureaucrat of the Indian Government and a seasoned diplomat. The author of a dozen books on equally diverse areas such as biography, poetry, social sciences, civic affairs, and history. His book The Great Indian Middle Class (1998) tends to be the first one that people read when they try to decipher the rise of the middle class in India. Being Indian (2004) is a masterpiece that even Indians should read to understand who they are and why they are. The subtitle says “The truth about why the twenty first century will be India’s.”
So with three stalwarts as a part of the panel the session without a doubt will be truly engaging and interesting. How do I think the session will progress and the topic that would definitely be deliberated and discussed upon as per me would be the unity in diversity of this country- is it over rated? Are the various states at war amongst themselves and the nation as a whole? Are we hurtling into the development zone without an actual plan in place? Is there an order in the madness that we see today? Am sure William Dalrymple would be able to give us keen insights into this.
The most persistent mistake would be the politics that our politicians have been playing since time immemorial that of religion and caste. Can India afford to move ahead if it continues with the games our politicians play. Is coalition politics a boon or a bane for this nation? I would really like to hear Ashis Nandy on this.
Can India move to the next level without good relations with our immediate neighbours? What about the great Indian middle class which has been the driver in this growth story of India. Where are we headed as a nation. What are the past mistakes that we absolutely have to learn from and the persistent problem that people face in this great Indian nation?
This session is something we excitedly look forward to on day 2 of the festival. Let’s see if it shapes up as we imagine it to be!
Monday, October 17, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
The Book Lovers blog is proud to be associated with one of the most looked forward to event this year, The Thinkfest, it is going to be held in Goa from 4th November to 6th November. With a stellar list of speakers our excitement to be a part of this event knows no bounds.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Another interesting book that I recently read was on India’s oldest political party, the Indian National Congress. Written by Rasheed Kidwai this book takes you through the fall and rise of the grand old party. A short history of the people behind it. Very well written,full of anecdotes, some stories heard, some unheard.
The author manages to keep the book engaging enough for people to keep reading and to understand what makes the party tick, despite numerous challenges; the party has always managed to come back stronger than ever. Its ability to keep re-inventing itself, mould itself as per the wishes of the people is has managed to keep its tenuous hold at the Centre. The book provides an observer’s glance at affairs within the Congress.
The party has been considered elitist by many. There is a certain aloofness about it which many a times is misread by the people. More in these times than ever.
The book takes you through Indira Gandhi’s times and how she managed to wipe out the parent Congress and made Congress(I) the true national party, looks at her relationship with her two sons and their wives. The part I liked best was how events and circumstances drove the Gandhi and Bachchan family apart.
What followed after Rajiv Gandhi’s death makes for an interesting read, how the party went through tumultuous times, the era of Narasimha Rao, Sitaram Kesri, the exit of Sharad Pawar, the re-entry of Gandhis, Rahul Gandhi’s vision for Youth Congress. It touches on all aspects of the party. The good, the bad and the ugly it has it all.
I would consider this book a must read, you can of course ignore some sugar coating that the writer has done at some places. But over all a good, insightful read.
So the blog is back with reviews of books read! Have read some six to eight books, just didn’t get the time to jot my thoughts down and post a review. Lots of interesting books have been read I will start with the review of Aman Sethi’s A Free Man.
When I read the synopsis of the book I got a feeling that maybe the book will run us down as Indians who have failed to address the needs of migrant labourers and how these daily wage laborers are short changed by everyone. But it also made me want to read the book as it was a topic I had not read on earlier and honestly was curious to know how they live, about their family lives, their work conditions etc.
The book turned out to be a great readand gives the reader insights into their living conditions. It at no point was critical of the system, their lives, the unfairness of it all; just a matter of fact look at the life of Ashraf who though studied till college ends up in Sadar Bazaar in Delhi. His journey takes him to Mumbai, Calcutta, Surat, Hyderabad and Patna. Ashraf takes time to open up to the author and tell him his story, his journey. His story comes out in bit and pieces but the exchange does manage to give us an insight to his life, his work friends Lallo, Rehaan., his family- who he left behind and has totally lost touch with, Kaka –the tea stall vendor and their banker, Kalyani the super smart business woman of Sadar Bazaar, who makes a living selling alcohol to the labourers, more importantly a roof to drink.
The book ends just the way it begins, leaves you saddened with the way life turns out for Ashraf and his friends. If you read Ashraf’s timeline which the author brings together in the end, leaves you terribly disheartened.
An honest confession while I never bothered to think about these migrant labourers when I saw them at work, now after reading Aman’s book makes me wonder about their story, takes me back to Ashraf. This is just how much the book moved me. These are the invisible men who silently work to make their living and struggle through their own lives.
The book makes for an excellent read. It is the story of a man you will not forget in a hurry. After reading the book it is hard to believe that it is the author’s debut book. Look forward to reading many more books from Aman Sethi.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
2nd ANNUAL DSC South Asian Literature Festival
7 – 24 October 2011
Sir Christopher Ondaatje, Amit Chaudhuri and Romesh Gunesekera line up alongside some of the most exciting voices of South Asian literature – Mohammed Hanif, SoumikDatta, MirzaWaheed, GautamMalkani, HM Naqvi and Sonia Faleiro– as the second annual DSC South Asian Literature Festival is announced
DSC Limited to continue support as title sponsor for the festival. Festival to open with packed weekend of events in Shoreditch New production to celebrate the Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore
With events at leading cultural venues in London, including the Free Word Centre, British Library, the Nehru Centre, and an opening weekend at Rich Mix in Shoreditch, the DSC South Asian Literature Festival [SALF] returns to deliver a full programme of events in October,bringing together the written word with rich imagery, film, music, performance and art.
Renowned authors, actors, poets and musicians - home-grown, international and from the subcontinent - and leading voices from the worlds of politics, academia and broadcasting, assemble in London and across the UK in this unique cross-disciplinary festival.
In its second year SALF is set to host top names such as Sri-Lankan-Canadian adventurer SirChristopher Ondaatje, discussing his works and travels in a new collection of writings with Booker-Prize shortlisted author RomeshGunesekera; celebrated Kashmiri writer Mirza Waheed pays tribute to renowned Kashmiri poet Aga Shahid Ali; Mohammed Hanif launches his hugely anticipated follow-up to the Commonwealth prize-winning A Case of Exploding Mangoes, appearing at the festival in his only major London event; a bevvy of Britain’s critically acclaimed new writers including NikeshShukla, NivenGovinden, KavitaBhanot, SuhaylSaadi and GautamMalkani gather to launch the defiant anthology ‘Too Asian, Not Asian Enough’; a gala-dinner to announce the shortlist of the second DSC Prize for South Asian Literature with last year’s winner H M Naqvi appearing at an exclusive event in the UK for the first time since taking home the $50,000 prize; award-winning Indian reporter and author Sonia Faleiro launches Beautiful Thing, her eye-opening account of Bombay’s dance bar underworld; a revealing look for the first time at the story behind the making of Granta magazine’s latest issue commemorating 9/11, Ten Years Later; Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlisted-translator Arunava Sinha arrives from India to take part in events and a workshop emphasising the importance of translating literature; and a performance by Seema Anand on the stories from the 'Hamzanama' - a collection of Persian tales dated from more than a millennia ago.
Organisers are in discussion with more than 80 authors and artists, with the final programmeto be announced early September.
The eclectic mix of events, programmed in association with a range of notable partners including the British Centre for Literary Translation, Writer’s Centre Norwich, Vayu Naidu Company, Baithak Records, The Literary Consultancy and the Reading Agency, will also welcome Chelsea Theatre and The Women’s Library as new venue partners, as well as bookshops and libraries across the capital. The festival will travel to key cities including Edinburgh, Portsmouth, Leicester and Norwich during the series of events in London.
The festival is also thrilled to announce a pilot programme for a South Asian Reading Campaign, due to take place during the first week of the festival [10-14 October]. The campaign is a book industry-wide initiative with events and promotions in schools, libraries and bookshops, and puts reading and education right at the heart of SALF’s vision for South
Asian literature in the UK. Full details will be announced early September.The DSC South Asian Literature Festival was founded by publishing colleagues Jon Slack and Bhavit Mehta, who have set up the not-for-profit organisation Amphora Arts to produce the Festival. It is sponsored by DSC Limited, one of India’s leading infrastructure companies, with a global reputation and presence across four continents. As principal sponsors of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival and creators of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, SALF is a natural alliance for the company’s interests in literature and the arts.
Festival directors Bhavit Mehta and Jon Slack:
“We’re very pleased to bring back the festival for its second year, particularly within such a challenging climate for the arts. Many of our partners are back with us and it’s terrific to have the renewed commitment from DSC Ltd, and for the festival to be continuing its association with the DSC Prize. Programming the festival is what we relish the most and we’re incredibly excited at what is being lined up. There’s more emphasis on translation, a strand of the festival we intend to develop into a major component. And we’re thrilled to be commissioning an original production for the festival with the talented SoumikDatta, easily one of the most exciting performers in Britain today.”
ManhadNarula, Director, DSC Limited:
“We came on board as the title sponsor of the festival last year and are happy with the impact the DSC South Asian Literature Festival made in its inaugural year. It was well received in literary circles because of its specific focus on South Asian literature and we are confident it will be able to reach out to wider audiences this year and engage with new issues and themes. As a company we are committed to supporting South Asian literature which is why we created the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature in 2010 and whose first winner we announced in January this year. The DSC South Asian Literature Festival is a very valuable and important part of this vision, and we look forward to being the title sponsor for many years to come.”
Friday, August 19, 2011
This is going to be a really short post but wanted to review this book simply because it is a 'hatke' book on a topic which we Indians talk about only in a hush hush, conspiratorial way. This is a book of short stories that are erotic in nature with the undercurrent of carnality.
Priya In Incredible Indyaa is a book I had read sometime back and absolutely loved. In this book author Namita Gokhale brings back some unforgettable characters from her 1984 cult bestseller Paro. So here’s a brief background of her book Paro - The book is in Priya’s voice, her narrative. Priya starts with an adolescent crush for her boss, the great B.R. He is also attracted to her leading to a brief fling, but within a month, B.R. marries Paro who is a from Delhi and for Priya someone who is larger than life. Priya herself gets married to a small time lawyer from Delhi, Suresh.The two of them try to network with ‘important’ people and make themselves known in ‘VIP circles’ for that Suresh is willing to bend himself backwards for any VIP. Soon enough Paro hits Delhi and Suresh get close since one of his friend Avinendra, or Lenin as he is known to friends, is besotted by her. At the same time Priya on a holiday to Bombay ends up having a fling with BR again leading to lots of fights between the couples. This must have been an explosive book in the 80s for sure!
So Priya returns in the second book, 25 years hence Paro is dead and Priya has grown into a middle-aged woman, her husband, Suresh, has bagged a minister of state portfolio. We see Priya struggling with Delhi's high society, her approaching menopause and finding a suitable wife each for her twins. She is still very much in touch with BR and whenever she is in Bombay makes it a point to meet him for a rendezvous. At the same time she is also struggling with all the pretenses that come along with being a wife of a public figure. She keeps remembering her humble beginnings in Bombay in a 1BHK and where she is now. At times she finds herself an outsider trying to fit in to the chic social set. Out of all the roles she plays she is the happiest being a mother to her two sons Luv and Kush.
Suresh’s friend, Lenin is around and still a Marxist while his wife Geeta is also a powerhouse in the Indian government. They have a daughter Paromita who falls in love with Priya’s son Luv. Also in the picture is the extremely loud spoken, ambitious, pushy Poonam who absolutely has no compunctions in hooking up with anyone in power to climb up the social ladder.
All in all gives the reader a glimpse into the high society life in Delhi-the hypocrisy of it all, the fake laughter, the shallow friendships, selfish alliances, double speak. The book is extremely well paced, funny, sarcastic, and witty at the same time. A satirical look at how the country has progressed not just economically but socially too.
A must read book.
We had reviewed the book and put it in our must read list. Happy to note that it makes it in the Vodafone Crossword shortlist for English Non-Fiction. Here's our review:
Friday, August 12, 2011
'The Crimson Throne is a book which you look at, and think that ,it is yet another attempt, to understand the dynamics of Mughal era but then you read the story synopsis which begins with these lines ‘Emperor Shah Jahan’s pleasures of the flesh to divert himself from the travails of old age…’ and you are instantly interested in knowing more! This book definitely does not disappoint. An excellent account of the life and times of the period.