Posts Tagged ‘Bhutan’

Fire in The Unnameable Country
Ghalib Islam | Fourth Estate | Rs 499

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.55.09 PMThis debut is as exciting as it is befuddling. Ghalib Islam, born in Bangladesh and living in Canada since the age of seven has penned a novel that wraps around an unnamed country that to an Indian reader would appear to point to Bangladesh. But the country is not named. What is named is a colonial past, a terrorist infested present, a mind-reading government department, a man who speaks many languages, a flying carpet and a long birth. It’s ambitious, clever and dressed in magic realism. A reader’s puzzle.


Field Guide To Happiness
Linda Leaming | Hay House | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.54.45 PMLinda Leaming, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, US made her home in Bhutan sometime in the mid-90s. In between she taught English and wrote articles for women’s magazine, traveller guides and newspapers. “I have now lived in Bhutan all my adult life. My happiness comes because living in this ancient culture forces me to think differently – about time, work, money, nature, family, other people, life, death, tea, kindness, generosity, washing machines, waking up, and myself,” writes Leaming as she unveils her journey to self-discovery. The story comes packaged as a self-help manual.


Business Unusual
Sharmila Kantha | Rupa | Rs 295

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.54.58 PMIt’s a refreshing to read writers using India’s historical capital, Delhi as the backdrop for a thriller or detective genre books. In ‘Business Unusual’ former corporate functionary, Sharmila Kantha, situates a murder in an upper class businessman’s household that includes a calculating ‘Mataji’, warring sons, servants and hangers on and an unemotionally efficient detective, Ramji. There are also, of course, dead bodies that link the mystery together and a sultry seductress, Lata that enters Ramji’s life at the most confusing time. A fun detective adventure aimed at young adult reader.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 22 February 2015)

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A Mysterious Death at Sainik Farms
Rukmani Anandani | Rupa | Rs 195

“Ugrasen couldn’t sleep… He tried to puzzle it out” – is how Rukmani starts off her story. Like Chetan Bhagat, the author does not shed any sweat over the language. But she does weave a challenging and chilling mystery. And in detective fiction this is what matters. Rukmani’s detective, a Tam-Bram named Ganpati Iyer with “a typical south Indian moustache” and a love for quoting couplets from Kural sets out to solve the murder of a rich Punjabi businessman living in Sainik Farms. The story holds together well, and the end, includes a surprise.


October Coup
Mohammad Hyder | Roli Books | Rs 295

Hyder’s account of the last days of the Hyderabad State before its annexation to the Indian Union proves that that truth has many faces. In February 1948 Hyder was appointed as Collector of Osmanabad district. As a civil servant of the Hyderabad State it was his responsibility to maintain law and order in the district. In this memoir he recounts the border incursions and campaign of violent raids by armed militia manned by the then Congress party workers. He also recounts his encounters with the Arabs and Pathans and most importantly the dreaded leader of the Razakars, Qasim Razvi. Fascinating account.


Treasures of the Thunder Dragon
Adhi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck | Penguin | Rs 499

Between 1999 and 2006 Adhi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, made several journeys to different parts of her beautiful country. On her journeys, she says, she experienced, “enthralling landscapes, breathless climbs and knee-crunching descents. But nothing was more rewarding than the encounters with the people…and the generosity with which they shared their lives and homes.” Bhutan or the Land of Thunder Dragon (Druk Yul) as it’s also known, is often described as the last Shangri La. In Wangchuk’s account it emerges as a land deeply steeped in Buddhism and in love with nature and its animals.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 24 June 2012)

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Innovate Happily
Dr Rekha Shetty | Portfolio Penguin | Rs 199

Dr Shetty takes a leaf out of Bhutan and contemplates how we can achieve what the Buddhist kingdom has set as its aim – Gross National Happiness. In the middle of the book she treats you to a set of 32 questions that attempt to measure one’s personal “well-being”. The questions include the following: Do you plan ‘happiness breaks’ every day? Do you live in a peaceful area where rule of law prevails? Do you have a clear plan for the future? Something tells us, that you even if you reply in negative, you can still be happy. If that’s not true, there is always Dr Shetty.


 Empires of the Moghul: The Tainted Throne
Alex Rutherford | Headline Review | Rs 599

The Tainted Throne, the fourth book in the Empire of the Moghul series penned by Diana and Michael Preston writing under the pseudonym – Alex Rutherford – follows the fortunes of Jahangir and his son Khurram (Shah Jahan). History of the 17th century Mughal empire is told in bold strokes where battle and romance are embraced with equal vigor. In it, both men become besotted with their wives, who are presented as devoted and loyal but scheming women. Jahangir gets addicted to wine and opium, Mehrunissa takes over the reigns of the empire as Khurram and his half brothers battle out for taktya-takhta – throne or coffin.


The Edge of Desire
Tuhin A. Sinha | Hachette India | Rs 195

The writer of the book makes his living writing scripts for TV soaps and short films. This explains his style of writing – the narrative is visualized in episodes and almost all conversations happen indoors. In The Edge of Desire, he tells a story of woman journalist who rises to become a cabinet minister after she decides to avenge her rape in Bihar’s badlands. The protagonist is helmed both by her IAS husband and political godfather who promotes her. Sinha’s tale reminds one of Prakash Jha films. One wonders what to make of books that are inspired by mainstream Hindi cinema. Can it build an equally loyal readership?

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 27 May 2012)

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