Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book List Oct-Dec 2011

I wanted to put up the list of books which I recently acquired in last 3 months. I have been caught up in the new responsibilities of taking care of a baby but that did not deter me from attending the Book Sale by Goa-Based Broadway Book Centre and the Landmark Book Sale, while also buying several books from Flipkart and Indiaplaza.

Here is the list:

From the Broadway Book Sale: Each one bought for Rs 50. The price was a major deciding factor. I would not have bought even single one of these, if it had been for anything more. I felt this Book Sale was more suited for the college crowd. There was nothing from Indian Publishers and nothing in Non Fiction.

1. Nanny Returns by Nicole Karus and Emma Mclaughlin: I had earlier bought ‘The Nanny Diaries’ from a similar Sale at Rs 50 (the hardbound edition), so when I saw this one, I got it. I am not too fond of such books but they are fine for general time pass reading, you know, immediately after you have read some heavy-duty stuff.  

I have read ‘Inconceivable’ by Ben Elton and it was quite funny, so I bought both the books listed below:

4. From Here to Maternity by Sinead Moriarty: Bought this one for the obvious reasons. I remember reading another book called ‘I don’t know how she does it’ and it was hilarious. Hope this one is on similar lines. Yet another general time pass stuff.

5. Monster by Allan Hall: I am sometimes drawn to real life crime stories. I have read ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote and look forward to reading more on true crime.

6. The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam: I have heard a lot about “Maps for Lost Lovers” and have it too. I have not read it yet. This one is also from the same author.

From Landmark Book Sale: The discounts at Book stores are not really great. Great discounts would only be on a handful books but that’s about it. So I looked for getting something on the “3 for 2” offer. And this offer also works for you only if all the books are of similar price. I usually end up buying several magazines on my visits, I prefer buying books online. Nevertheless, after a lot of research, I got the following books. First three are on the offer, rest as indicated.

I read these 2 books long back, and I wanted them for my collection:

9. The Pregnant King by Devdutt Pattnaik: It is related to Mahabharata and I had been thinking of getting this for quite sometime now.

11. Byline by M.J.Akbar (at 10% discount on the cover price)

I was heartbroken to see ‘First Day First Show’ for Rs 99. I recently bought it for Rs 374! But that is something which you cannot plan.

I bought the following from Flipkart and Indiaplaza:
12. Dr Spocks Baby And Child Care by Robert Needlman, Benjamin Spock: Smita told me it is a good reference book on Child Care. So how could I not have it J

13. Sita's Ramayana by Samhita Arni, Moyna Chitrakar: After collecting several perspectives on Mahabharata, I have started expanding my ‘Ramayana’ collection. It also happens to be my first Graphic Novel.

14. The Best Of Quest by Laeeq Futehally, Achal Prabhala, Arshia Sattar: I first read about the book in Pune Mirror. I have bought books on Eunice De Souza’s recommendation earlier also, like ‘the Locust and the Bird’. Later on, I read a lot about 'the Best of Quest' in many articles and magazines.

15. Lucknow Boy by Vinod Mehta: Since I follow Outlook and the book is a memoir of its editor, I kept finding more and more about the book through his column on the last page. I found it fascinating enough. Memoirs are interesting only when they are honest and provide new revelations. There’s nothing exciting about sugar candy talk and reading something which is already a public knowledge. This issue of Outlook even featured excerpts from the book. The book sounds salacious!

Following 2 had been recommended by a friend who has studied psychology. I was discussing about reading on child psychology.

18. Half The Sky - How To Change The World by Nicholas D. KristofSheryl Wudunn: I had my eyes on this one for a long time but only imported editions were available which were quite expensive. I recently bought it for a good price.

Some more additions for my ‘Ramayana’ collection. These have interesting perspectives on Sita and Ram, which reminds me of a superb animation film 'Sita Sings the Blues'.

Following are supposed to be from Ravana’s perspective.

24. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel ShriverI discovered this book while reading an article on parenting. I found this highly recommended for all parents:

The above listed books have been bought only between October and December, and December is not over yet! One of these days, I would like to put up the list of my entire collection. I recently categorized and re-organized them.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Mafia Queens of Mumbai : Stories of Women from the Ganglands by S. Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges

Title: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Gangland
Author: S.Hussain Zaidi (with Jane Borges)
Publisher: Tranquebar
Pages: 290
Genre: Non Fiction / Crime
Rating: 10 /10

Source: Review Copy (from BlogAdda)

Vishal Bhardwaj begins his foreword with “Crime is juicier than spirituality”. And isn’t it so? I read an article somewhere recently (as Bharadwaj also laments) about the dearth of literature on crime in India, something on the lines of ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote. Incidentally, I recently found a new book, which deals with the Neeraj Grover Murder case called ‘Death in Mumbai’ by Meenal Baghel.

To digress a little more from the book, I recently read an article here that says how unimaginative the word ‘Non Fiction’ is. It does total injustice to the talented lot of writers who do not dwell in fictitious stories and yet create nothing short of excellent pieces of literature. Why bunch them all together in a highly non-creative word called ‘Non Fiction’? It takes away from the whole effort.

Finally coming back to the book, it is an outstanding and fascinating book – in its unusual subject, extensive research, deft story-telling and engaging pace. The cover page is highly apt and sets the mood for the book. I finished it in 4.5 hours flat.

S. Hussain Zaidi (who has also written the exceptional ‘Black Friday’) alongwith Jane Borges, creates vivid imagery of 13 women who enjoyed a lot of clout in the Mumbai mafia.

Though little known to the general public, unlike their several infamous male counterparts, these women have been singled out for their close involvement with underworld or power enjoyed by them. From wives and girlfriends of Dons to a Bollywood starlet, from a much sought-after bar dancer to women fueled by their ambition – each story reads like a movie script. The fact that the stories of these women are not easy to piece together, since little has been known about them, it makes the authors’ efforts far more commendable.

Following are glimpses of 13 women featured in this book:

  • Jenabai –known for her closeness with the underworld dons Vardharajan, Karim Lala and Haji Mastan, and she was quite sought after for her advice.
  • Gangubai – a girl who ran away from her small village, goes on to become the much-respected matriarch of Kamathipura – the red light area of Mumbai
  • Ashraf or Sapna didi -  a wife who did not have any knowledge about her husband’s underworld connection till he gets killed in an encounter, trains herself with single-minded determination to take on the people responsible for his death
  • Jyoti Amma and Mahalaxmi Papamani – Poverty and responsibility of taking care of family lead them into drug peddling, and over time they became powerful
  • Monica Bedi – Her closeness with a Dubai business, who was actually Abu Salem, got her into the wrong side of the law, and she paid the price heavily
  • Asha Gawli, Neeta Naik, , Sujata Nikhalje, Padma Poojary – Wives of Hindu Dons who went on to handle the place of their husbands while they were absconding
  • Mrs Paul, Rubina Siraj Sayyed – Girlfriends and associates of Chhota Shakeel
  • Tarannum Khan – the most (in)famous bar dancer who minted a lot of money in cricket betting
  • Archana Sharma – a Ram Leela artiste from Ujjain becomes  a hardcore criminal, responsible for kidnapping, extortion and murder
It is definitely an interesting book, for who is not fascinated by the many stories of the underworld. Several movies have been scripted over the years, and it would continue to be portrayed on the celluloid with as much interest and drama.

It is definitely a must read for all book lovers, and I would go on to say that it would also appeal to people who like Fiction. After all, these are also stories, only real!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Muddy River by P.A.Krishnan

Title: The Muddy River
Author: P.A. Krishnan
Publisher: Tranquebar
Pages: 248
Genre: Political fiction
Rating: 9 out of 10
Source: Review Copy (from BlogAdda)

In contrast to the unassuming cover page, the book was quite impressive.
‘The Muddy River’ almost seems to be a real story - multi-layered, multi-dimensional and complex (which also reminded me of Shashi Deshpande’s books).

Ramesh Chandran is a Delhi-based bureaucrat, who is transferred to Assam when he starts asking for Contract files of his Corporation (Power Transmission Corporation) and has a few uncomfortable run-ins with senior people in his organisation. It is meant to be a punishment posting. Sukanya is Ramesh’ wife, and they are both trying to come to terms with the untimely death of their only child Priya in a freak incident. They love each other but the incidence has developed a strain in their relationship. (To digress a little, I read somewhere that the death of a child leads to a lot of divorces because husband and wife have different ways of dealing with the loss and many times they are not able to understand the other).

Ramesh is an upright person and while he thinks he is a Marxist, he is also majorly influenced by Gandhi (who keeps coming into the narrative every now and then).

In Assam, Ramesh is chosen to negotiate the release of one of his company’s senior managers, who gets kidnapped by a militant outfit for a ransom. In his pursuit of this case, Ramesh meets Anupama (his subordinate who has strong views about Assam’s fight for independence from the rest of the India), Bhuyan (the Deputy Inspector General who comes to like the sincerity of Ramesh), Bura (a practical Marwari Contrator who is chosen as a contact between the militants and Ramesh), Rajbankshi (the Gandhian) and Mrs Ghosh (the kidnapped Mr Ghosh’s unthankful and untrusting wife). The story dwells on two main issues –the release of Mr Ghosh is certainly the main issue but it also deals with the levels of corruption in a government organisation and the resistance one faces when he tries to take it on. Ramesh goes out of his way, sometimes even putting his life in danger, meeting a number of people who can be of even a little help in ensuring Ghosh’s release. Ramesh’s pursuit of unravelling corruption within his organisation gets him into trouble and he also gets suspended but he never bucks to the pressure.

The language is illustrative. I admit, I had to look up quite a few words, but it is always a pleasure to read such books which enrich your language, while at the same time narrating the story well! English is a beautiful language.

The story moves forward in the form of a main narrative, and the manuscript written by Ramesh for his book, but it never confuses you between the real and the fictional (in terms of the book). Sukanya sends the chapters from Ramesh’s manuscript to their friends Subir and Herbert for their comments. The interaction between Sukanya, Subir and Herbert is interesting and clarifies a few doubts which one may have about the story, as to why the author had written an incident in a certain way.

I was hooked to the story from the beginning and did not lose interest till the end. The book has as much pace as a thriller. It dwells on the corruption and bureaucracy in government organisations, empathizes with the voice of people of Assam and while doing so keeps coming back to the relevance of what Gandhi has said!

It is a well-written book, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in a good story. There are a few technicalities related to workings of Power companies but if you don’t understand them, you can move one, and it is only for a short while. It certainly cannot be a reason to put you off because I can assure that atleast this book is not difficult to read. It is lucid in its narrative.

I just hold back one point for a little rushed and dramatic ending, but it might appeal to many.

I am impressed by the writer’s story telling and I look forward to reading his first book as well. I also could not stop myself from reading about Mr Sanjoy Ghose, to whom this book is dedicated.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

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