Friday, May 27, 2011

Remembering Tagore: Get discounts on all Tagore titles

Before we kick off our ‘Remembering Tagore’ month on the blog, we thought why not get our readers to warm up to the idea?

The Book Lovers is happy to announce that we have tied up with Dial-a-book for this month to make your book buying a lot easier, your favourite books are now just a phone call away! What’s more your Tagore books will be delivered right at your doorstep and at 20% discount…This offer is for all the readers and followers of our blog!

If you are wondering what Dial-a-book is all about, here are the details:

Dial-a-Book lets you order all types of Books over the phone We accept Cash on Delivery in 27 cities including Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Order books across India Call 09650-457-457

So what are you waiting for? Call them now!

Review: East of the Sun

Reviewed by Kiran Manral.
East of the Sun
A Nearly Stoned Walk Down the Road in a Different Land
By Siddharth Sarma
Tranquebar Press
Rs 295

If you like Bill Bryson, this is a book you must read. There are two other compelling reasons. For one, it deals with a region of the country, often ignored and neglected and of which, we know too little, namely the North East. And for another, Sarma’s style of writing is that of the assured insider. Warm, chatty, filled with witty asides and an intimate kind of tone, that makes the reader feel almost drawn into the journey with Sarma. Which is after all, what a travelogue should be, right?

The journey begins from Assam, Guwahati to be specific, and Sarma takes us through Assam, to the rest of the North East, in a lazy meandering manner, with no seeming rush to deal with a certain place and get on with it. In the process, he shares nuggets of cultural, sociological and anthropological information about the place he’s traversing through.

The author brings with him the advantage of having grown up in the North East, therefore being able to pack in the historical facts with the local patois and flavour to give us an intimate, no warts photoshopped portrait of the region, painted though, tenderly. I believe the author has got certain facts wrong in the narrative, but since he’s told them to us so charmingly, we might just forgive him if the second edition carries a correction, and this is a book I definitely see going into multiple editions.

Let the casual language and the contrived flippancy not fool you, this is a book that does have a lot of research that tells us great deal about the North East, the geography, history, the local traditions and cultures and the political and social unrests. Whether it is the ‘teer’ sport of  Shillong, or his encounter with armed Militants in Mizoram, the reader is with Sarma through it all, a proverbial fly on his back pack. What does kill the read in parts though is over use of flippancy, and cutesiness. IMHO.

(Kiran Manral is a writer, blogger, social activist. She is also the Creative Head  at Karma Communications, Mumbai)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Remembering Tagore: Penguin's Tagore Book Shelf

Penguin India

is proud to present the

The Penguin Tagore Bookshelf

Featuring twenty-one wonderful books by and on

the Nobel laureate, poet, writer and philosopher

A prolific writer, Rabindranath Tagore’s works include some sixty collections of verse, nearly a hundred short stories, several novels, plays, dance dramas, essays on religion, society and literature, and over 2500 songs, including the national anthems of India and Bangladesh. Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, and was knighted in 1915, an honour he repudiated in 1919 after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. His eminence as India’s greatest modern poet remains unchallenged to this day.

To mark the 150th anniversary of Rabindrananth Tagore (1861-1941), Penguin India is delighted to present a special selection of works by and on the Nobel laureate, poet, writer and philosopher. From novels, poetry, essays and short stories to biographies The Penguin Tagore Bookshelf covers the entire range of works of and on Tagore.

Rabindranath Tagore reinvented the Bengali novel with Farewell Song and this translation by Radha Chakravarty is a must-read for all who love classics; Gora, also translated by Radha Chakravarty, is Tagore’s most ambitious work. An epic saga of India’s nationalist awakening, viewed through the eyes of one young man, an orthodox Hindu, Gora questions the dogmas and presuppositions inherent in nationalist thought like few books have dared to do. As thought-provoking today as it was a hundred years ago when it was written, A Grain of Sand: Chokher Bali, translated by Sreejata Guha, is Tagore’s classic exposition of an extramarital affair that takes place within the confines of a joint family while Home and the World (Ghare Bhaire) is Tagore’s comment on women’s emancipation. In Classic Rabindranath Tagore we present a complete and unabridged collection of Tagore’s most popular novels in translation: A Grain of Sand (Chokher Bali), The Shipwreck (Noukadubi), Gora, Quartet(Chaturanga), Home and the World (Ghare Baire), Nexus (Yogayog), Farewell Song (Shesher Kabita), The Garden (Malancha), Four Chapters (Char Adhyay).

The poems of Rabindranath Tagore are among the most haunting and tender in world literature. Selected Poems includes some of his best poems in a wonderful translation by internationally renowned Tagore scholar and translator William Radice. Also translated by William Radice is Gitanjali, a new translation of Tagore’s most famous work, in which Radice restores the poet’s original structure and style. The Jewel That Is Best: Collected Brief Poems comprises the three volumes ‘Particles’ (Kanjikā), ‘Jottings’ (Lekhan) and ‘Sparks’ (Sphulinga). I Won't Let You Go: Selected Poems is a critically acclaimed collection of Tagore’s poems in which Ketaki Kushari Dyson brilliantly captures the energy and lyricism of the legendary poet’s verses.

Rabindranath Tagore is known to have created the modern short story in India. The Postmaster: Selected Stories consists of his best. Translated and introduced by William Radice, it includes selected letters, detailed biographical notes and a glossary. Also translated by William Radice is Kabuliwallah: Stories (Penguin Evergreens), a collection that recreates vivid images of Bengali life and landscape in lyrical and evocative prose. Tagore wrote He (Shey) to satisfy his nine-year-old granddaughter’s incessant demands for stories. Aparna Chaudhuri captures the spirit and flavour of the original in this first-ever complete translation which includes Tagore’s delightful nonsense verse and illustrations.

Other titles in The Penguin Tagore Bookshelf include Nationalism, based on the lectures delivered by Tagore during the First World War, with an outstanding introduction by Ramachandra Guha. Rabindranath Tagore (Words of Freedom) is a selection from Tagore’s speeches and writings on the nation. and The Nectar of Life: Quotations from the Prose Writingsedited by Sameer Sengupta and translated by Debjani Banerjee, is a collection of pithy quotations from Tagore’s prose writings. My Life in My Words, selected, edited and with an introduction by Uma Dasgupta is quite literally Tagore on Tagore. Meticulously researched and sensitively edited, this unique autobiography provides an incomparable insight into the mind of the genius. Rabindranath Tagore: The Singer and His Song by Reba Som, on the other hand, is a biography of Tagore with music as its leitmotif. It maps out chronologically the musical journey of the poet with anecdotes and allusions and includes translations of some of Tagore’s most evocative songs. Women of the Tagore Household by Chitra Deb (translated by Smita Chowdhry and Sona Roy) is an engaging narrative, spanning over three hundred years, that highlights the Tagore family’s influence on the Bengal Renaissance and brings out the special role the Tagore women played in Bengali history and culture.

We also have three marvelous titles for children as part of this collection. Boyhood Days brings to life an era long past and traces the journey of an icon from childhood to the time he takes his first steps in the world of literature. Translated by Radha Chakravarty, it has an introduction by Amartya Sen. Also translated by Radha Chakravarty, with an introduction by Mahasweta Devi, The Land of Cards: Stories, Poems and Plays for Children, brings together some of Tagore’s best works—poems, short stories and plays—in one volume. The Prince and Other Modern Fables, translated by Sreejata Guha, is a classic collection of insightful little stories that reveal the simple truth about life.

To view the wonderful Penguin Tagore Bookshelf, and to take part in an exciting contest and win some great prizes, or for more information, please visit our Tagore website

Update on The Book Lovers Book Club meet

The Book Lovers Club met on Sunday 22nd May at Prithvi Café. The discussion was based on the book of the month Devdutt Pattanaik’s The Pregnant King. It is amazing how mythology can have so many perspectives and give a reader so many points of discussion. The book in itself is a very good read. Highly recommended by all the book club members!

This year being Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, Kiran suggested that we read and discuss his works on the blog as well as at the book club meet, which we all agreed upon whole heartedly. So besides putting up reviews on the blog we would actively encourage our readers to contribute reviews /discussions/ thoughts about him and his writings. So, come forward, share your posts on our blog!

For the book club meet you can pick your choice of his writing and also do let us know which book you would be reading. The more different titles we read, more enriching the discussion would be when we meet.

Look forward to everyone’s active participation!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Book Lovers book club meet coming up!!

The Book Lovers Club meet details

Date: 22nd May, 2011
Time: 2.30pm
Venue : Prithvi Cafe, Prithvi Theatre,Janki Kutir,Juhu,Mumbai
The book of the month: Devdutt Pattanaik's ThePregnant King

Do join us!

Do join our google group by sending us a mail to bookwelove (at) gmail (dot) com
On twitter we are @the_book_lovers

Review: The Secret Keeper

Reviewed by Shivani Singh

Set in the 1970’s, The Secret Keeper revolves around Asha Gupta tough life she lives at her father’s ancestral Bengali home which shows discrimination towards women. Even at the young age of sixteen, she has a dozen problematic issues eating away at her daily.

When her father loses his job in Delhi, he moves to New York in search of better opportunities. But he leaves his wife Sumitra and his two daughters back in India to live in his ancestral home until he finds a good job in America. This is a decision that doesn’t go down well with either of them. Asha’s mother falls into a heavy cloud of depression when she is away from her husband, and it is up to her two daughters Asha and Reet to deal with her. And their extended family members’ orthodox ideas and injustice towards Sumitra and her daughters only make things harder for them.

Amidst all the troubles that Asha is being bogged down by, she vents out her frustration by writing in a 
diary. As it holds her most intimate thoughts and varied emotions, she calls it the Secret Keeper. To get some privacy away from the hustle-bustle around her in the house, Asha  goes up to the terrace daily and writes in her diary. Here she meets Jay, a lonely young man who takes an unusual interest in her, and with time she realizes that she reciprocates his feelings.

Asha risks her family’s wrath by playing sports like cricket and tennis with boys – and crushing the belief that girls shouldn’t tread into the competitive world of sports by beating each and every one of them. Simultaneously, she also deals with unwanted attention that the house garners with young men staring through windows in order to catch a glimpse at her beautiful sister Reet. She also brainstorms plots to fend off unsuitable proposals for her sister. But through this all, she has to face her family’s distaste for the fact that she is dark and thus not beautiful, which is the harsh reality in some part of the Indian society.

As Asha waits for her father to call her, Reet and her mother to New York, they receive terrible news that shatters their lives. Their already bad life becomes worse, with the three of them drowned in gloom. Asha decides it is up to her to save her mother and sister from the harsh turn of events. It is during this period that she learns the significance of sacrifice and that it is only if you truly love someone will you able to make a tremendous one.

Will Asha’s life ever get back to the ‘happily ever after’ that she had often written in her Secret Keeper about?

(Shivani Singh, who has just appeared for her 10th grade exams, is an avid reader and a writer in the making.)

Review: Show me a Hero

I recently read Aditya Sudarshan’s second book Show me a Hero, a story about youth, growing up and standing up for their beliefs. A good effort but not an extraordinary story to keep it interesting enough for the reader. I found the plot good but the characters very disconnected.

The story is of how a fresh out of college youth Prashant Padmanabhan wants to make a movie about his cricketing icon Ali Khan. He wants to clear the controversy surrounding Ali’s retirement from cricket through his movie. Prashant, thanks to his sheer persistence, manages to convince Khan to be a part of the project. Everything seems to be falling in place for Prashant in terms of the movie; he also gets his friend Vaibhav to help him out with the project. Things start going awry as soon as they start filming with Prashant receiving death threats for supporting Ali, also court summons from religious groups that do not want their community portrayed in a bad light. It gets worse when Prashant is found dead in his home.

It is first assumed that it was an accident but it is soon established that he was murdered. So the book soon turns into a whodunit when Vaibhav and Animesh, his roommate, try to get to the bottom of Prashant’s death. That is when they discover not everything is as simple and not everyone is as they seem, bringing to the fore the complexities of human mind.

Interesting plot but seems to go haywire at times. At times I just skipped pages to know who could have done this to Prashant and why but midway it was pretty clear and evident who the murderer is. The book does try to address issues that young adults are facing, the challenges of urban living. Just wish it could be a more gripping and interesting read.

About the Author:

Aditya Sudarshan is a fiction writer. He is the author of a novel, A Nice Quiet Holiday, a play, Sensible People, and several short stories and television scripts. He also writes literary criticism for The Hindu Literary Review and other publications.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: Stealing Karma

I recently read Aneesha Capur’s debut novel Stealing Karma which was a very beautiful mother-daughter story.  Mira and Shanti’s relationship is beautifully portrayed by the author and is a book that will touch you and leave you with tears in your eyes by the time the book ends.

Mira who has lived in India and studied in a convent all her life is married off to Prashant who resides in Africa. Mira after moving to Nairobi knows no life beyond her bungalow and she is happy with her life, with her daughter and Prashant. Life is to change for them when Prashant dies due to a massive attack. Mira finds herself alone but at the same time finds in Wairimu, their native housekeeper,  a friend and confidante. When her friends suggest that she move back to India since Africa would not be a safe destination for them to live alone due to the unrest and resentment that the natives feel towards the Indians settled there, she refuses choosing to continue living in Africa.  Left with no income and a young child to support Mira withdraws into herself. Wairimu is left with no option but take charge of the house and of Shanti. The child sees her mother struggling to come to terms with her grief, she sees her mother go through relationships with other men, her drinking and smoking bouts. While Mira searches for memories from pasts that are not quite hers, Shanti struggles to make sense of her mother’s seeming indifference as she rapidly approaches adulthood. Though at times you feel annoyed wiith Mira but at instances like when she celebrates Shanti’s birthday at her friend’s house the reader realizes how deep her love is for Shanti. With her own burdens to bear she never can truly express it to her daughter.

The story is easy paced, showing various dimensions of human behavior under extreme circumstances and how they struggle to come to terms with it. A nice narrative keeps you engrossed in Mira and Shanti’s lives. Impressive debut by the author. Look forward to many more!

About the Author:
Aneesha Capur has an MFA from Warren Wilson College and an MBA from Wharton. She has attended the Vermont Studio Center, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sqaw Valley Community of Writers Fiction Program, the Iowa Writers’ Summer Workshop and the Fine Arts Work Center. Her professional career spans private, nonprofit and academic sectors. Aneesha was born in India and spent most of her childhood in Africa. She now lives in San Francisco.

Review:The Folded Earth

I have been lucky to have read good books back to back. The latest to join in my highly recommended reading would be Anuradha Roy’s The Folded Earth. The book is very well written, the book cover very well designed. Yes would re-iterate my obsession with book covers! But of course no book cover is above the story...And for this book I can surely say that the story will keep you captivated.

Maya, the protagonist of the book, defies her parents to marry the love of her life Michael. They both live happily together but fate has other plans for them. Though Michael by profession is a press photographer he is also a passionate climber and on one such trip to Roopkund in the Himalayas he ends up losing his life. Left with no friends, no family Maya decides to move to Ranikhet, a small town deep in the Himalayas to start her life afresh. With the help of her contacts she takes up a job as a teacher. While being a teacher during the day, in the evening she spends her time by helping her landlord Diwan sahib to write a biography on Jim Corbett. Her bond with the eccentric scholar and her friendship with a village girl Charu seem to offer her the chance of a new life in Ranikhet. Things though start changing soon enough in this quiet, peaceful town with a new administration in place. With the upcoming elections the town is seized by powerful outsiders who are trying to sow division there and usurp the school land, almost bringing it close to closure. Her life is set to change too with the arrival of Diwan sahib’s nephew Veer. Veer starts to live with his uncle and plans to set up a trekking company in the town. Maya finds herself instinctively drawn to him but his frequent disappearances also bring back memories of her past. Why and where does Veer keep disappearing too often? What secrets does he hide? All the pieces fit together at the climax of the book.  

The writing is poetic at times, humorous at places and well researched throughout. Beautifully written, poignant and a great read. An interesting story that will keep you hooked till the very end.

About the Author:

Anuradha Roy was educated in Calcutta and Cambridge. She has worked as a publisher and a journalist and is now an Editor at Permanent Black. She was the winner of the Picador-Outlook Non-Fiction prize in 2004 and her first novel, An Atlas of Impossible Longing, was shortlisted for the Crossword Prize. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: Third Best

Reviewed by: Shivani Singh

Third Best is an entertaining story accurately throwing light on the life of students in Indian boarding schools. Set in the early 90’s, it spins around Mount Shore, a prestigious school where seniors command their juniors to do their homework and chores, girls sneak into the boys’ dormitories and infatuations are unrequited.

The protagonist of the story, Nirvan Shrivastava is enrolled in Mount Shore to continue the glowing legacy of his family. Each and every member of his family – be it his great-great grandparents or his aunts and uncles have attended the school and left with their names heroically embedded in its history. And the same success and excellence in academics and sports is expected of Nirvan, not to forget the coveted title of Head of the Mount which all of his predecessors with the exception of his elder brother Moksh had earned. But from the first day itself, he realizes that things aren’t easy as he’s been made to believe, because getting good grades to please his teachers and shouldering the pressure of his House to win an inter-house school football tournament weren’t the only problems he faced. No one had ever taught him how to talk to someone he had a crush on, how to stand up for the right and how to regain his lost respect.

Accompanied by Nirvan are his best friends at Mount Shore, consisting of Faraz, Gautam and Ruma. Faraz is a tall and incredibly good-looking young man who is desired by every girl he comes across – oblivious to his nonchalance to their advances and his desire lying in someone unattainable. That one friend everyone has who is a complete music freak is portrayed by Gautam, who in spite of his uncanny knack to get into trouble,  low grades and obsession with hot girls has hidden qualities and talents, which he learns to discover and nurture along with the help of his caring friends.  Meanwhile, Rumi is a girl who has lived abroad all her life and is a die-hard fan of Nirvana and Guns ‘n Roses, who falls for one of her unsuspecting friends.

Amidst the horrifying nervousness of dallying between studying for the upcoming board exams and playing football matches to bring glory to their House, they learn valuable lessons about sacrifices, hard work and making the right decisions. They learn to deal with heartaches and losing loved ones, and forgiveness too. The crime of bullying by seniors has a major role in this story, and the painful truth about violent bullying is openly displayed. But the most important lesson that the students learn is to always stand up for what is right, whomsoever the perpetrator might be.

Third Best is a light-hearted read for teens that enjoy the multiple interesting flavors of boarding school life. It successfully displays the concept of boarding school life which was popularized by Enid Blyton, the only differences being that in this book you find the abundant swearing, raging hormones and other aspects that come with the onset of adolescence and plots that are more appealing to young adults. Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time, Third Best makes a fun read.

(Shivani Singh, who has just appeared for her 10th grade exams, is an avid reader and a writer in the making.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Caravan Conversations

Sometimes I wish I was living in Delhi rather than Mumbai. The Capital always manages to get a bigger share of interesting events and discussions on history&literature . Not fair! Here is one more reason why I would want to be there on 8th May.

The Caravan has organised an evening of interaction on The Transformations of Delhi: India's Capital at 100. With William Dalrymple, Mahmood Farooqui, Mukul Kesavan and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra in attendance what more could one ask for? If you would like to attend the event please click on the following link for more details:

Sounds interesting? Go for it, I say!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book Launch : I for India

Karan Khanna's debut book,I for India, will be launched at the Oxford Book Store, Mumbai on 6th May 2011. For more details follow the link below:

Book excerpts :

Book Summary of I For India: A Novel
Is living in India becoming a joke? Do we always have to be ridiculed and remain disgusted? And why are we so vulnerable? Indians of every shape and size and of every hue and colour must have at least once in their lives felt ashamed of being an Indian! I for India is the fictional story of ‘Karan Sehgal’, a young man from Australia,
who came to India and fell in love with his nation, and then found himself in the middle of the horrendous November 26th Mumbai terrorist attacks, which changed his life forever. His passion and vision for his motherland became his purpose for living, and in doing this, he paved the way to an India of his dreams. Based on the author’s own dream for India, Karan Khanna’s novel is sure to breathe new life into the debates we have lived through in the last couple of years. Khanna’s book is one of the first in the emerging genre of disaster fiction and is path breaking in its efforts to awaken the youth of today and usher in a new era of hope and prosperity in this crisis stricken country. It will leave you inspired, thinking and thrilled at the same time.

About the Author
Born in 1985 in Mumbai, Karan Khanna grew up and spent his entire childhood there. After a two year high schooling in Bangalore, he went off to Australia and did his bachelors in Business Management from Monash University in Melbourne. On returning from Australia he joined his father’s textile business in Mumbai. Not finding the interest and enthusiasm he hoped for in his family business, he decided to pursue an MBA. During the application process he realized his passion for writing, and this, combined with his dream for India, led him to write this story. Dropping his MBA plans, he took up writing this book as his life’s biggest goal and realized his love for fiction writing and story telling. Besides writing, he loves movies, sports, travelling and reading. Karan lives in Mumbai with his family and continues to write.