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Posts Tagged ‘mythology’


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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Kitnay Admi Thay?
Diptakirti Chaudhuri | Westland | Rs 275

Billed as “Completely useless Bollywood Trivia”, this book offers an interesting compendium of anecdotes and trivial facts sourced from books, film magazines and news media about India’s national obsession – Bollywood and its superstars. Presented as lists – e.g., 10 Songs That Became Movies; 10 Films Within Films or 10 Trains You Should Not Miss – the books includes answers to questions such as: Can you name the films or dialogues that made it to Amul’s billboard ads? Can you identify the two diseases that exist only in Bollywood films? Aishwarya Rai has acted as a sister to two superstars, who are they?

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That’s the Way We Met
Sudeep Nagarkar | Random House | Rs 125

Nagarkar’s present novel – a story about a man who seeks to reclaim his love by writing a book that he hopes his estranged girlfriend will one day read – is as banal as it is intriguing. Interestingly, this book is a sequel to his debut novel, Few Things Left Unsaid, which according to sale figures on flipkart, India’s book delivery portal, was a ‘bestseller’. It is likely that its readership resides in the small towns, where the young try to imagine how it is to live in metro cities like Delhi or Mumbai. But who knows? It could be the ‘masses of India’ as the author says in acknowledgements.

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March of the Aryans
Bhagwan S Gidwani | Penguin | Rs 599

“A civilization is kept alive only when it’s past values and traditions are recreated in men’s minds,” says Gidwani in the preface to the novel – an adaptation of his earlier book called Return of the Aryans. According to the author, the Aryans originated from India, traveled the world and returned home. He proposes that Aryans existed prior to the dawn of Harappan Civilization (3300-1300 BCE) in the age of Sanatana Dharma i.e., sometime between 8000-4000 BCE. That would place it in Stone Age, a period when man lived caves. But this does not seem to ruffle Gidwani, who also glibly admits that the book is “a work of fiction”.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 29 July)

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Portraits From Ayodhya
Scharada Dubey| Tranquebar| Rs 295

“Can we permit politics to use emotional triggers like ‘faith and ‘identity’ to amass followers?” asks Dubey in this excellent compilation of oral history, drawn from the interviews conducted with Ayodhya’s famed residents. Returning to the city two decades after the demolition of Babri Masjid, Dubey unflinchingly records the city’s multi-layered existence. “Even before 1949, there was a gang of five people who used to go around establishing temples in place of Muslim graveyards. My father was one of the five,” Vineet Maurya, a dalit farmer living next to the remains of the Masjid, tells the author. Don’t mistake this book for a travelogue it’s a socio-political document that deserves to be read.

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The Forest of Stories
Ashok K. Banker | Westland |Rs 295

After writing the immensely appreciated ‘Ramayana Series’, Banker returns with the retelling of the great epic, Mahabharata. A work, that is part of a larger project in which the author wishes to recap ancient Indian texts dealing with ‘mythology, itihasa, history and future history’. “Unlike my Ramayana series, where I often took great creative liberties,” says Banker, this version of the Mahabharata sticks closely to Vyasa’s Sanskrit epic. He reminds the reader that the famed epic is, “not a religious polemic. Not a historical document. Not Itihasa.” But just “a great story”. For those who have always wanted to read it in accessible English translation, it’s a welcome treat.

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Grandma’s Bag of Stories
Sudha Murty | Puffin| Rs 199

Sudha Murty’s books for children create an aura of magic that’s at once charming and riveting. In this book, Murty, retells the stories she had heard from her own grandmother, Krishtakka, while growing up in Shiggaon, a sleepy town in north Karnataka. Her stories are tales of everyday life encountered in a world free of  modern technology – there are kings here, thieves, monkeys, mice and gods. Each story has a moral and a lesson for tiny tots, and each is accompanied by lively illustrations drawn by Priya Kuriyan that any child will enjoy spending time with.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 26 February 2012)

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