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Posts Tagged ‘romance’


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.

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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.

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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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Mumbai Noir
Ed. by Altaf Tyrewala| Harper Collins | Rs 350

As in the first book, Delhi Noir edited by Hirsh Sawhney that took Delhi under its microscope, Mumbai Noir tells the story of the underbelly of Maximum City. The book is divided by places, events and notions that have shaped its hidden yet, palpable neurosis. Employing the devices of crime fiction and film noir, the stories in the book are divided into three sections: ‘Bomb-ay’, which looks at impact of bomb blasts and crime that scars its body politic; ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, that charts the relationship between the living dead and the newly arrived; and, ‘An Island Unto Itself’ that unspools the dream city. Incisive, heart-wrenching and dark.

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In the Orchard of Swallows
Peter Hobbs | Faber and Faber |Rs 450

Hobbs is a gifted storyteller. In this slim novel, his third after The Short Day Dying and I Could Ride All Day in My Cold Blue Train, he sets a story of love and power in the modern day Swat Valley in Pakistan. The tale is brutal, yet timeless and as beautiful as the garden of life that it seeks to inhabit. A young boy, merely 14 falls in love with a daughter of a local politician. The boy ends up in prison to emerge 15 years later. Life beats to a different drum now, except for the swallows that fly – like dreams – unfettered.

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Two Pronouns and a Verb
Kiran Khalap | Amaryllis| Rs 295

Khalap is a brand consultant who by his own admission enjoys ‘writing, rock climbing and spiritual evolution’. His first novel was Halfway Up the Mountain. This is his second. In it he spins a yarn around three protagonists, Arjun a poet and photographer, Dhruv a social activist working among tribals and an Osho Ashram visitor, a German girl, Eva. The story is set in a Pune wada but moves effortlessly at one point to Goa at another to Mumbai and yet another, tribal hamlet of Nagpur. The three places provide the backdrop to a rather mundane, insipid and uninspiring love-triangle.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 6 May 2011)

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