Discovering love, strength and places (Books This Weekend)
1. Book: Mirror City; Author: Chitrita Banerji; Publisher: Penguin; 398; Price: Rs. 499
It is 1973. A newly independent Bangladesh is collapsing under the weight of an impending famine, unemployment and political corruption. In the midst of this upheaval, Uma, a Bengali from Calcutta, moves to Dhaka with her husband, Iqbal. As the young woman learns to make the new city her home, she faces upheavals of her own. Iqbal is a changed man.
Their mixed marriage raises too many eyebrows, and the changed atmosphere in Dhaka makes it impossible to trust anyone. Uma has never felt so utterly alone in her life, until she finds herself unexpectedly failing in love.
This novel captures the turbulent early days of Bangladesh, the slow breakdown of a marriage, and a woman's search to find herself.
2. Book: Lights Out; Author: L Subramani; Publisher: Ebury Press; Pages: 176; Price: Rs. 299
The memoir is about one man's descent into blindness and his fight to live a normal life after that. The novel deals with the author's gradual, incurable, and rather debilitating process of going blind, the impact of slow loss of vision, the total cluelessness of the situation, and how he overcomes the condition.
The author suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa, a condition that affects about one in 300 in India and other developing countries. Most patients experience blindness quite suddenly and reel from its impact. The book details the difficulties of trying to live a normal life despite disability and will inspire you to turn your weakness into a source of strength.
3.Book: If It's Monday It Must Be Madurai; Author: Srinath Perur; Publisher: Penguin; Pages: 284; Price: Rs. 499
This travelogue around ten conducted tours is full of rich experiences: hanging on to a camel in Thar, rediscovering music in the trail of Kabir, joining thousands on an ancient pilgrimage in Maharashtra, crossing living root bridges near Cherrapunji, and more.
As much about people as places, the book is also a reflection on the nature of popular travel today marked by the packaging of experiences, the formation of tourist economies and compulsive picture-taking.
How this influences tourists comes through vividly - in their creating a "mini-India" in a bus, while racing through treasured sights in Europe; in their perfunctory devotion while hopping from temple to temple in Tamil Nadu; in their 'enjoying' with sex workers far away from home.
4.Book: Ex ...A Twisted Love Story; Author: Novoneel Chakraborty; Publisher: Ebury Press; Pages: 296; Price: Rs. 299
In the newest Jana Bibi adventure, Hamara Nagar is rocked by an espionage scandal. Now that the dust has settled and the town is safe from the threat of being flooded by a planned government dam, all eyes are on Jana and her feisty parrot, now the target of a potential kidnapping - 'birdnapping' - that puts Jana and her household on edge.
Meanwhile, love is in the air and thanks to the appearance of an old flame and the intoxicating elixir Love Potion Number 10, Jana is giddy-headed with the possibilities. She sees love and connection all around her.
Everyone in her bustling home from her long-time ayah, Mary, to her 11-year old errand boy Tilku, however, think that what's missing from her life is a husband. A visit from Jana's friends Lily and Cyrus, accompanied by Cyrus's recently widowed cousin and business partner Max King, lead to hopes that Max might fit the bill. But the trio's indulgence and hedonistic lifestyle clash with Jana's simple existence.
Jana now also explores her newest interest, dream interpretation -- and sets about to become a dream interpreter -- while the repercussions of her fortune-telling, which turned Hamara Nagar into a tourist destination, have life in the town alternating between bucolic serenity and mild chaos.
(Posted on 31-01-2014)