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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category


Prince of Gujarat
Rajmohan Gandhi | Aleph | Rs 500

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.41.56 PM“It was not until 1980s, while I was working on my biography of Sardar Patel, that I discovered interesting facts about Darbar Gopaldas, and the part he played, despite being a prince, in the satyagrahas of 1920s,” writes Rajmohan Gandhi in the preface to the biography on Prince Gopaldas Desai. Darbar, as the prince was known, worked with Sardar Patel and the Congress but spurned high office choosing instead to mentor the next generation of politicians. Three of them became CMs of Gujarat, and one founded Amul, the famous milk cooperative. A fascinating read.

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Teresa’s Man
Damodar Mauzo | Rupa | Rs 250

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.42.17 PMYou could view this is a collection of 14 short stories or a powerful commentary of the social life of Goans. Written originally in Konkani by novelist and literary critic, Damodar Mauzo, the stories build on various characteristics of human behaviour to tell timeless stories about the condition of man. Sensitively translated by Xavier Cota, these stories, also recall a life, language and social customs that are fast receding from our collective memory – of evening games of ‘tablam-khel’, local taverns, snakes and lakes, Europe bound families and sand castles on the beach. Arresting.

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Brainstorm
Daniel J Siegel | Hachette | Rs 399

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.42.42 PMLos Angeles-based behavioral scientist, Daniel J Siegel, cautions parents against treating adolescence as a ‘time of immaturity’ or as something to be endured. Adolescence, the period between 15-24, is a time we move from ‘me’ to ‘we’. When we realize that we are dependent on others and interdependent as a group. At the same time it is also a period during which we engage in intense emotional and social relationships and everything is new, exciting and worth exploring. Siegel calls it MWe and prescribes it for adults as well.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 21 December 2014.)

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Duryodhana
V. Raghunathan | Harper Collins | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.17.01 PMIn a creative re-telling of Mahabharata, V Raghunathan, banker and author, takes the side of Duryodhana to give an alternative reading to the epic. “While most popular versions of Mahabharata portray Duryodhana as the perpetrator of all that is wrong, it seems to me that there is good reason to view him as the wronged party instead.” And so, Raghunathan, voices Duryodhana’s questions, “Was it my fault if Shakuni was a better player of chaupar than Yudhishtra? Am I to be faulted for agreeing to give away Indraprastha to the Kuntiputras in the first place?” Interesting.

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The Temporary Bride
Jennifer Klinec | Virago | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.17.37 PMSubtitled ‘A Memoir of love and food in Iran’ Klinec’s tale is a diary of a 30-year-old Western woman’s journey to modern day Iran. Klinec was a financial executive in London, when she decided to head out to Iran to learn more about its cuisine. In Yazd she encountered a fabulous cook who taught her some awesome recipes. She also fell in love with her son. She has since returned to UK and is now thinking of a food journey to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. A sequel to ‘Temporary Bride’ she says, will follow next.

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The Legend of Ramulamma
Vithal Rajan | Hachette | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.17.56 PMIn this collection of 12 stories set in a Andhra village you’ll meet a Dalit midwife, a police officer, an NGO activist and a foreign visitor who end up being at the centre of one crime or another. There is a hit and run case, a rape and a mysterious death, passports get lost and a disease brings death. Each of the stories tells of the poor man’s struggle to survive everyday life. Greed, lust, deceit are as much characters here as the Dalit midwife or the author, is. Quick read.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 7 December 2014.)

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My Experience in Governance
Dr MA Ibrahimi | Har Anand Publications | Rs 595

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.03.39 PM In this entertaining memoir, the former chief secretary to Bihar government, Dr M.A. Ibrahimi, describes his years as government servant in some of Bihar’s most notorious districts. In late-1980s Dhanbad, he says, coal mafia ruled the district and many mafia dons were former labour union leaders. In Bhagalpur he describes the communal killings that followed the transportation of bricks, called Sheel Raths, to Ayodhya. He also talks of caste, regional and religious affiliations among the bureaucrats, police and in some cases, the judiciary. These things need to change, he says. We agree.

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The Fuss About Queens And Other Stories
Darius Cooper | Om Books | Rs 225

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.04.21 PM“Every story worth telling has to begin from some extraordinary premise or thesis. The ordinary just has no place in any good story,” says Darius Cooper in his introduction to 11 short stories presented in this book. He says he has written these stories to understand the sense of ‘daily homelessness’ that he has experienced as a member of Parsi community in India. In his first story ‘The Metaphorical Spot’ he writes, “These days Socrates swims in Neelkantha’s bloodstream,” cleverly using the image of Shiva having swallowed the poison just as Socrates or more obliquely, Parsis have done.

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Think Like A Freak
Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner | Allan Lane | Rs 499

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.04.05 PMIn their first book ‘Freakonomics!’ economist, Steven D Levitt and journalist, Stephen J Dubner pushed for thinking out of the box, in this book, they tell us that people are more self-interested than they admit and that they don’t mean what they say. If you want to quit, do it. Don’t wait. Quitting is not about failure. It’s a choice. “The two of us have had more luck and fun writing books together than we could have imagined,” they write, though at one point, they could not imagine quitting what they did before.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 30 November 2014.)

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Eating God
Ed. by Arundhathi Subramaniam | Penguin | Rs 599

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 7.48.47 PMThere is no better way to introduce this anthology of Bhakti poetry than to hear the editor, Arundhathi Subramaniam, brief us about it, “Bhakti poems offer sanctuary, companionship, illumination – signposts on what often is turbulent and uncertain journey. They are reminders of the human struggle to give utterance to that strange hunger for something that we seem perennially on the verge of apprehending – the mystery that…is totally foreign to us, but [with which] we are completely at home.” You’ll find many voices here – geographical, social, linguistic, psychological and historical. Each one sings a song.

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Sardarji & Other Stories
Khwaja Ahmad Abbas | Om Books | Rs 295

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 7.48.33 PM“The strength of your short stories my dear Abbas, lies in the fact that you have grasped the weakness of your characters amid their strengths,” wrote Mulk Raj Anand, the late doyen of Indian fiction in English, in the introduction to one of Abbas’ short story collections. Writer, journalist & screenwriter Khwaja Ahamd Abbas (1914-1987) is best remembered for his story, “Sardarji” and film scripts that include Naya Sansar, Jagte Raho, Neecha Nagar, Awara and Bobby to name a few. His short stories are being re-discovered now. This slim volume will entrance and move you.

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Powers of Two
Joshua Wolf Shenk | John Murray & Hachette India | Rs 499

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 7.48.18 PMJoshua Wolf Shenk, an essayist, author and curator based in Los Angeles, USA, makes a persuasive argument that most creative individuals work in pairs. The idea of solitary genius or locating creativity in networks, he says is only one part of the story. The other less discussed and accepted reality is that John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Picasso and Matisse and many others worked or engaged as pairs to create the world most memorable, life altering and incredible things. There is power in collaborations. Time we acknowledged this.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 23 November 2014.)

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Only Connect!
Ed. by Meenakshi Bharat & Sharon Rundle | Rupa | Rs 195

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 7.23.31 PM‘Only Connect!’ presents a mixed bag of short stories. Some good, some middling. Some ephemeral. It includes tales by Indian, Sri Lankan and Australian writers. The theme is technology and how it impacts people. What do these stories tell us? For one, people crave human contact. Texting, facebooking and emailing is artificial and misleading. On the other hand, too much proximity forces people to seek an alternative space that is accessible at a push of a button. Third, there is politics and surveillance, and our attempt to escape it. Readable.

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Understanding India
Rohitashya Chattopadhyay | Sage | Rs 695

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 7.30.35 PM“Although this is an ethnography of media production, the central narrative of the book is structured around the issue of Indian identity,” writes Rohitashya Chattopadhyay in the introduction to the book. Can Indian identity be compartmentalized in an age of cultural hybridity? What are the reasons behind the mythic dimension of cricket-themed commercials? These and many other questions find their answers in this dissertation, which asserts that TV commercials connect consumerism with the nation-state and thus offer the viewer their country as a consumable product. Interesting.

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Harley Loco
Rayya Elias | Bloomsbury | Rs 399

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 7.30.53 PMDaughter of a rich farmer and landowner émigré from Syria, Rayya Elias grew up in Detroit. While her parents were conscious of their migrant status, Rayya embraced America and drugs. In 1983, as a successful hairdresser, she arrived in New York and Lower East Side. Neglected by parents and brother, bullied by schoolmates and ridiculed by society around her, she sought escape in pot, boys, mescaline, acid and coke. Till she found out she was a lesbian and found herself homeless in Tompkins Square Park. Life changed. This is her story.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 9 November 2014.)

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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.

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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.

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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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