Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: 24 Akbar Road

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.

Review: A Free Man

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

DSC South Asian Literature Festival

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.”