Archive for the ‘Chick Lit – World’ Category

Classic Satyajit Ray
Transl. by Gopa Majumdar | Penguin | Rs 399

In this collection of 49 stories you will not meet Professor Shanku or Feluda. But you will encounter the macabre, the supernatural and the ordinary. Just as his films, Satyajit Ray’s short stories have captured the imagination of generations of readers who have coveted his wit and skill at story telling. Mostly available to Bengali readers, these have now been translated into English and collated by Penguin as a ‘classic’. Included in the collection are time-tested favourites such as: Khagam, Indigo, Fritz, Bhutto, Patol Babu: Film Star and The Hungry Septopus. Pity the paperback version of this book, is typeset in eye-taxing tight-knit typeface.


Beautiful Disaster
Jamie McGuire | Simon & Schuster | Rs 350

EL James’ Shades of Grey appears to have opened the floodgates to a new trend in adult romances where ‘cruelty’ is the new ‘love’. In Beautiful Disaster, two young adults (Travis a bad boy and Abby, the bad girl) given to emotional violence, possessiveness and control mania are thrown together into a vortex of emotional-interdependence. Some have denounced the book as a story about ‘domestic abusive hero’ others have hailed it as gritty and unconventional. The book comes with fair amount of wordy slugfests and graphic sexuality. It’s for you to figure, how you read it.


The Book of Emotions
Salman Akhtar | Roli Books | Rs 250

In this pocket book on emotions, Akhtar, a clinical psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in Philadelphia, gives us glimpses of the many shades of what a human heart is capable of.  Writing of people given to self-flagellation he says, “They lack the healthy capacity for indignation that most mature and well-adjusted people possess.” While talking of courage he reminds the reader of the hanging of Dara Shikoh, shunning of Mirza Ghalib and hounding of MF Husain, all of whom had the courage to ‘think-out-of-the-box’. And on hope, he quips, “Hope is a petrol of life’s automotive and the best antidote against suicide.” Simple, lucid, readable.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, 9 September 2012)

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Six Meters of Pavement
Farzana Doctor | Rupa | Rs 295

In Six Meters of Pavement the author integrates the life of three characters to tell a story about loss and redemption. In it we meet Ismail Boxwala, a middle-aged Toronto resident, who can never forgive himself for causing his daughter’s death, his neighbour, Celia and a young bisexual woman Fatima Khan around whom the plot is built. Kicked out of her home for her ‘perverted’ lifestyle, Fatima approaches Ismail to mediate with her conservative Indian parents. This book, her second novel after Stealing Nasreen, won Farzana Doctor, a Canadian writer based in Toronto, the 2012 Lambda Literary Award in the lesbian fiction category.


I Heart New York
Lindsey Kelk | HarperCollins | £ 6.99

This picture perfect teen novel encourages young women a change of scene to overcome their love troubles. In this case the heroine moves from London to New York to re-invent her life. While in England she does pretty little in New York she hits the web with a daily blog about her sex life. It gets her the attention she craves and of course, a job with a magazine. In between we are treated to sightseeing trips in and around New York. This is Kelk’s third book in the series after I Heart Hollywood and I Heart Paris.


Content is Currency
Jon Wuebben | Nicholas Brealey Publishing | Rs 595

In Content is Currency, web strategist Wuebben explains the fine art of content development and marketing by utilising Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) techniques. “From what I’ve seen in the business world 80 per cent of businesses know only limited amount about the web and mobile content and how it affects them, no matter what they may think they know,” he says in the opening chapter of the book. Each of the chapters offers an overview of a ‘content type’, industry trends, best practices, how-to advice and case studies. Useful for any business, you may be engaged in.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 15 July 2012)

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The Soul of the Rhino
Hemanta Mishra & Jim Ottaway Jr | Penguin | Rs 299

For naturalist, Hemanta Mishra “Saving the rhino, had become an obsession.” An obsession that had to be tampered with realism when King Birendra of Nepal ordered Mishra to organise a hunt for the animal for a Tarpan ceremony – a ritual that requires a rhino to be killed to propitiate gods in order to earn ‘peace and harmony’. For animal rights activists this admission from a conservationist may cause revulsion. But Mishra turned it around into cause célèbre for saving the beast and its habitat. Written with humour and insight, this slim book recounts the history of the one-horned wonder and the man who set out to save it.


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Jennifer E. Smith | Headline  | Rs 299

What is the statistical probability of love at first sight? Skeptics would say, none. Romantics would vouch otherwise. Smith belongs to the latter group. Or let’s say, her publisher thinks this kind of story will sell well. It’s another question whether young adults think the same. But let’s assume they do. If so, this book is for them. It tells the story of 17-year-old American girl, Hadley who meets a 20-something English boy, Oliver at an airport. The book includes an interview with the writer, including a section that tells the reader what places to visit if you find yourself in London or New York.


Gypsy Escapades
William J. Jackson | Rupa | Rs 250

Written by an academic who has authored several books on South Indian bhakti literature, Gypsy Escapades attempts to tell the history of Narikuruva hill tribe in Tamil Nadu by situating their story in a suspense drama that traverses India on the hippie trail. In India “sweepers continuously sweep up the endless rubble and rubbish” deposited on the streets, comments the author at one point, adding pompously of how it “makes you think of consumerism”. This sort of patronizing gives one the hiccups, more so since the author makes a living from researching “the other”. Obviously, the story suffers. As do the readers.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi dated 3 June 2012)

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Lest We Forget History
P G J Nampoothiri & Gagan Sethi | Books For Change| Rs 300

This document, put together by a retired police officer of the Gujarat cadre and a social activist, is a valuable addition to the material that has been produced on the state sponsored communal violence in Gujarat 2002. Appointed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to prepare the preliminary report on the gruesome events that shook the nation, the two gentlemen, recount their findings from 2002 and experiences thereafter, with an honesty that deserves both praise and attention. They openly admit that their report is NHRC-centric, but this does not in anyway take away the seriousness of their commitment to justice and fair play.


All The Single Ladies
Jane Costello| Simon & Schuster| Rs 499

Costello’s first romantic novel, Bridesmaids, made it to The Sunday Times top 10 bestsellers in UK about five years ago. Ever since, the author and her publisher have been milking her “celebrity” status. You could say, that commerce has its own logic, yet the question that begs to be answered is, should you read her? In All The Single Ladies, the writer prods the reader to get on with one’s life after being dumped by a man. Do you really need to spend Rs 500 to learn that? If so, why not visit any random Internet relationship portal that offers the same profound wisdom for free?


I Never Knew It Was You
Kalpana Swaminathan| Penguin| Rs 299

As far as fictional characters go, Bombay’s most famous detective, Inspector Godbole is impossible to top. So Swaminthan does the next best thing, she invents his alter ego, a 67-year-old silver haired female ex-cop called Lalli. This book features Lalli’s fourth case as a crime buster. Apart from the plot, it’s the writer’s keen eye for detail that will have you asking for more. Take this description of modern-day Vile Parle for instance: “Now all that remains is a heap of rubble, waiting like a parent by the gate. Shops have gone from general stores to shopping centres, but these won’t last. By next year we’ll have a mall.”

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 8 April 2012)

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The Song Seekers
Saswati Sengupta| Zubaan| Rs 395

In one of the most venerated texts on Goddess Kali, the Mahatmya, Kali also known as Chandi, is a fierce sword-wielding goddess. In the 18th century Puranic retelling of the tale, however, Kali as consort of Shiva assumes more importance. She becomes the goddess Parvati that’s tied to home and hearth, not the battlefield. Sengupta questions this twisting of the tale by the patriarchs who penned the Chandimangals in 18th century Bengal. “How did these contradictions come about?” she asks, as she spins an alternate tale. Fascinating read, if you can get over the un-evenness of the author’s narrative as it flits clumsily between past and present.


The Grandeur of the Lion
Carl Muller| Penguin|Rs 199

Muller, now 77-years-old, has been a navy signalman, a tourist entertainer and a writer of science fiction and poetry. The ‘Lion series’ is his attempt to retell the saga of Sinhalese people through Buddhist fables and mythology. More accurately, he tells the story of the reign of Duttha Gamini – known both as a destructive and benevolent king – who ruled the kingdom of Anuradhapuram on the island between 161-137 BC. The first book in the series, City of the Lion earned him the State Literary Award in Sri Lanka. This book is the third in the four part series, describing how Duttha Gamini transformed his capital into the most famous Buddhist city in ancient times.


I Have Got Your Number
Sophie Kinsella| Banta Press|Rs 550

Kinsella shot to fame with her first bestselling novel, Confessions of a Shopaholic that was later turned into an equally popular Hollywood flick. In I Have Got Your Number the author explores the travails of a heroine who while losing her own phone finds a mobile belonging to a dashing businessman. The romance formula does not change. What changes is the setting. The hero is a tall, dark and handsome man and the woman, a physiotherapist in a recuperation facility. The heroine has no calms about accessing the hero’s official and personal emails and sms texts. In real life she would have got the boot, in the novel, she gets the man.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 4 March 2012)

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