Tag Archive > India

Star Gazing

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Serious Men By Manu JosephThere are certain things that seem to be a given amongst Indian novels these days especially after White Tiger came into being – for example the under dog anti hero for instance, who has to live in suitably underprivileged circumstances, while fighting against the system that conspires to keep him down. In Manu Joseph’s debut novel, this is Ayyan Mani, a dalit who lives in one room in the BDD chawl with his wife and 10 year old hearing challenged son.

The chawl bring us into Slumdog Millionaire territory which is most probably intentional, especially in the section where Joseph describes the lines outside the toilets and Ayyan Mani’s wish to showcase his son’s talent there.

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A Delicious Potpourri

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Kerala Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections from the Syrian Christians of South India By (author) Lathika George, book reviewThere is rather a charming tradition these days of combining cookery with stories of the way of life that inspired the recipes. In keeping with this, George has spiced her recipes liberally with family anecdotes. “Food and memories are interconnected. Most of us have everlasting memories that are evoked by the foods that we prepare or eat, don’t we?’ George says.

While containing 150 recipes that encapsulate the richness of Syrian-Christian cooking, ‘The Suriani Kitchen’ also gives you a sneak peek at George’s family secrets.

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Small Troubled Worlds

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An assembly of minute details observed with a sensitive eye and put together in a series of stories that celebrate every day life. Nighat Gandhi’s Ghalib at Dusk is noteworthy because of the fact that the author manages to put her finger on the common pulse that unites daily life in Pakistan and India.Ghalib at Dusk and Other Stories  By Nighat Majid The stories crisscross places and cultures, travelling from Karachi to Ahmedabad and Allahabad, towns that are out of the mainstream bustle. They also traverse emotional tangles and domestic dilemmas and the contrast between outward life and inner emotions.

This is most apparent in the story that gives the collection its title, the tale of the partially handicapped Babar who lives with his sisters and is a Ghalib aficionado.

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Broken States

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Rupture by Sampurna Chattarji, published by Harper Collins India.Nine characters, five cities and 24 hours – that’s the trail that Sampurna Chattarji’s “Rupture” follows, helter skelter – at a pace that engages the reader’s imagination.  In the first few page everyone seems to be in a rush, running to catch something or do something.  And ahead of them looms an immense catastrophe, though you don’t realize that until you have gone deeper into the book.  ‘Nothing appears as it should in a world where nothing is certain. The only thing certain is the existence of a secret violence that makes everything uncertain’ – the opening quotation from Lucretius sets the expectation trend.

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Anjum Hasan talks to Curious Book Fans

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Anjum Hasan’s latest novel, Neti, Neti (Roli Books, 2009) was long-listed for the Man Asia Literary Prize. Her first novel, Lunatic in my Head (2007) was shortlisted for the Crossword Fiction Award. She is also the author of the book of poems Street on the Hill (2006). Anjum has published poems, short fiction and essays in various national and international magazines and anthologies.

Anjum Hasan

CBF: This is your second book about Sophie – what is it about her that makes you want to continue writing about her?

Anjum Hasan: I like the fact that she’s a bit of waif-like character – unmoored from everything, rootless, lacking any kind of cultural safety net.

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Big City Blues

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Neti Neti by Anjum Hasan‘Neti neti’, Sanskrit for neither this nor that. It’s a process of rejecting everything in search for that ultimate happiness.” So says Anjum Hasan when talking about her new book. This is in a sense, a continuation of Lunatic in My Head, Sophie Das, who was 8 in that book, is now a cigarette smoking young woman of 25 living in Bangalore and trying to come to terms with the chaos she sees all around her in the big city. Judging by Hassan’s textured descriptions, Bangalore is a lethal city where someone is being squashed on the roads every minute and where cars and auto rickshaws collide. Sophie lives in a state of terror having failed to come to terms with living in what is literally another country, when you compare it with Shillong which she left behind her.

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Lady Kishwar Desai talks to Curious Book Fans

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After publishing the review of Lady Kishwar Desai’s latest novel “Witness the Night” we were curious to learn more about the author and the background of this powerful story about prejudice and violence against women. Kishwar has had a long career working in media as a journalist, TV anchor and producer, as well as becoming head of an Indian TV channel. She is now a full-time writer with a weekly Saturday column in The Asian Age newspaper.  She lives between London, Delhi and Goa, currently working on a biography of Devika Rani and Himansu Rai.

Kishwar DesaiCBF: Why did you think of gendercide as the theme for your first novel?

Kishwar Desai: It was a chance encounter while I was running a TV Channel in Punjab, and one of the guests on the channel starting telling me about her life. It turned out that she had survived an attempt to give her opium and then kill her when she was born. Her story haunted me –and I kept wondering how she would feel, as an adult , looking at her parents and seeing her would-be assassins.

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It is the Cause

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Witness the Night By  Kishwar DesaiPerhaps it’s what you hear that stops you first, a 14 year old girl found alive among the bloodstained corpses of 13 family members in a rambling farmhouse. So you begin to read with images of a book like We Need to Talk about Kevin in your mind. Could this possibly be the tale of a child serial killer? Kishwar’s Desai’s location is promising, the Punjab, not too far away in the imagination from Nithari, the place where so many women and children had been savagely murdered and where body parts appeared from the sewers.

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The Indian Thriller

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Review of books Lashkar, Salim Must Die and Blowback by Mukul Deva

LashkarThere are certain gaps in the generous Indian outflow of fiction – the detective novel for example and, the thriller. The reason for the latter has been a little difficult to comprehend considering the fact that in India we certainly live in interesting times. And, after the serial explosions in various Indian cities and 26/11, life may not be as taken for granted again.

Now, however, the vacuum in the thriller field has been filled very effectively. Mukul Deva’s three novels, Lashkar and its sequels Salim Must Die and Blowback step into a territory that has become very familiar to everyone, whether in India or around the world: the clear and present danger of cross border terrorism.

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Mukul Deva talks to Curious Book Fans

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In addition to a review of his three books we publish this mini interview with India’s literary storm trooper and one of the pioneers of the Indian thriller novel, Mukul Deva.

Mukul DevaCBF: When did you realise there was a need for an Indian thriller?

Mukul Deva: It is surprising that for a country with a such a rich military tradition Indians have not attempted this genre before. More so since the sub-continent is positively teeming with a wealth of story ideas that are absolutely ideal for this genre.

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Travelling around India

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India in Slow Motion By Mark Tully, By Gillian WrightMark Tully wrote this book with his partner, Gillian, although his is the only name on the front cover of the version I have. Tully was born in India, but educated in the UK. He then returned to South Asia as a journalist with the BBC. He later left the BBC and became a journalist in New Delhi, working with Gillian, a translator. He has written two other books on India, also with Gillian.

The book is a description of one of Tully’s journeys around India, investigating a number of issues related to India’s governance. During their journey, they meet a number of men and occasionally women who are trying to contribute, in their individual ways, to the smoother running of the country. These issues include politics, economics, religion and culture, such as child labour in the Indian rug-making industry, corruption, Kashmir and the IT industry.

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Being Jewish in Ahmedabad

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The Walled City (Library of Modern Jewish Literature)  By Esther DavidDavid belongs, like the poet Nissim Ezekiel, to the Bene Israel tribe which settled in India over 2000 years ago. The Walled City is the story of a Jewish girl’s coming of age in the very Hindu city of Ahmedabad. The girl David writes about lives in the area between Relief Road, Delhi Darwaza and Khamasa, a neighbourhood in which the Jewish extended family to which she belongs rubs shoulders with Hindus and Muslims, in a variety of roles, domestics, vendors and neighbours. Though the novel is supposedly fiction, it reads like a work of non fiction because it is so close to every day life as experienced by the Jewish diaspora in Ahmedabad.

One can only guess at the period in which the book is set because there is no reflection of the political upheavals sweeping the subcontinent, however, it seems to be set in the 1950’s.

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