Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Newsroom Mafia by Oswald Pereira

Title: The Newsroom Mafia
Author: Oswald Pereira
Publisher: Grey Oak Publishers (Westland)
Pages: 259
Price: Rs 245
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Rating: 6/10

Though I am sure this book draws inspiration from the real, yet it is hard to overlook its strong Bollywood appeal. The main characters also seem to come alive straight from an underworld movie - a Hindu Don, Narayan Swami, ruthless and astute in his dealings, has a heart of gold for the poor and the needy. He puts together a coterie of shrewed and promising scribes as his advisers, for channelising his money as well as for handling the politicians and the police; a supercop, Bombay Police Commissioner, Donald Fernandez, who takes it upon himself to finish the Don and his empire. And the usual right hand men, side kicks, corrupt politicians and police thrown in good measure. The story even has a moll in the form of Stella Kutty. But over and above these cardboard characters from a hindi movie of the 70s or the 80s, the most interesting aspect about this book is the insight it offers about the media.

The naive common man assumes that the role of media is to report what goes on in the society but this book opens our eyes to how easily media can orient public opinion by planting stories in collusion with benefitting parties, timing the release of news articles which can deviate our attention from important issues to even preconceiving a scoop.

Oswald Pereira, veteran journalist and author, conceives a fast-paced crime thriller in 'The Newsroom Mafia'. The book begins at an interesting point, when a huge inside scoop goes awry. The Bombay Police Commissioner, Donald Fernandez plans to capture Narayan Swamy with much planning and secrecy. But his plan falls flat when the Don trumps him by sneaking away to safety from under the nose of a huge police contingent. This event sets pace for a story full of twists and turns where one trumps the other every now and then. Meanwhile, the story also charts Narayan Swamy's efforts to transform his image from an underworld Don to a charitable, social worker. Aiding both the parties in this game of cat and mouse are journalists. The narrator Oscar Pinto, a journalist, sides with Donald for exclusive stories, while a slew of scribes jump on the Don's bandwagon for money.

The cover page and the title are fitting, but the language and narrative are too flat for the theme of the book. The dialogues on several occasions are too filmy and cliched. I also felt that the end was a little let down in comparison with the high drama in the rest of the book. The book could have been much shorter as some details and events seemed irrelevant for the total narrative.

The book may not merit to be a part of literary hall of fame, but it can certainly give you good company on a journey or a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Libraries for Books

Since the time I moved to Pune, about 5.5 years back, I have bought a lot of books. The frequency peaked in the last 1-2 years. I love reading but I am not able to read as much as I buy. You know what I mean! I just love buying great books.
Anyways, like all the things, I have to set a good example for my baby. So I decided enough of buying books left, right and centre, let me join a library. That ways I will always have good books around and I will be able to inculcate library habit in my kid too. Imagine if he sees my mindless buying of books, what is he going to imbibe? No prizes in guessing.
My little research and some observation brought these 3 names to my mind:
1. Librarywala: I was a member about 3-4 years back for a month, neve utilised the opportunit much. The good part is I neve withdrew my Registration and refundable deposit, so technically I am still a member. I wrote them a mail and they activated my membership. They have a host of plans and reasonably good collection. So I am going to start off with them. Let me see how it goes, then I will look at other libraries too.
2. Tender Leaves: It is another online library. It works more or less in a similar way as librarywala. They have good plans but since I am already a member with librarywala, so I will be trying out them first. I found them on Facebook ads. The collection did not seem to be as exhaustive as librarywala though.
3. JustBooksClc: Just Books is a chain of physical libraries. I saw one at Vimannagar near Naturals. It is the closest from my home and I may check them out too.
4. British Council Library: I have seen one on FC road while going to college but never walked into it. I have heard a lot about it and they have some great workshops for kids too. Though it is long way from home but I will surely check it out.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Books for the little readers

These days, alongwith books for myself, I also search for good books for children, of all ages. I want to collect a good collection of books for my son. It is very important that the books they are reading have good, unbiased message. I would hate to encourage any kind of prejudices even before he has stepped out into this world.
I am in love with 'The very hungry Caterpillar' by Eric Carle because

1. The mini board book withstands rough handling (read chewing) by my baby. The mini part makes sure he is able to hold the book. My son is just 10 months right now, by the way!
2. The illustrations resemble drawings of a child
3. Very simple language and interesting
4. Life cycle of caterpillar to butterfly
5. Numbers and names of days
6. Night / day
7. Names of different fruits and food items
8. Die cut holes which kids can finger for fun
I also have a cloth book called 'Fuzzy Bee and friends', and another board book called 'Squishy Turtle and friends'. Actually both came together as a set.

I chanced upon this very interesting link about '50 inspiring children's books with a positive message'