There’s a story, in Barack Obama’s ‘Dreams from my Father‘ of the day Obama joined school in Hawaii. After the introduction from a teacher who talked kindly about Kenya, he says, “I spent the rest of the day in a daze. A red headed girl asked to touch my hair and seemed hurt when I refused. A ruddy faced boy asked me if my father ate people.”
Archive for the ‘Sonya’s book reviews’ Category
Independence Day weekend, and we’re off. To the gorgeous Verandah in the Forest, in Matheran. Where no cars are allowed . So we will be walking, many kilometers, in our raincoats , along the red mud of the railway track, to get to this atmospheric Parsi bungalow. With our rucksacks full of books. And games.
And now for our books : to be read in the hammocks in the garden, or in the easy chairs in the bungalow style running verandah. Along with tea ; masala chai for the spouse, Earl Grey for me.
Imagine being whacked on the head, and force fed opium. Made to cultivate it (instead of food) and made to take it . And by what an all-powerful drug dealer – a giant cartel, like in the movies, of trading and shipping companies, supported by the government of Great Britian.
Yes – all this really happened. It’s true. It’s the story of 1839 and the Opium Wars.
Princess Paanchali’s Story
Is having 5 husbands a great thing ?
What more could any woman want, you might say. Specially if the 5 husbands, between them, bring to the table, a sons-of-gods combo. Of righteousness, strength, bravery and beauty.
Certainly the lot of Draupadi, husband to the 5 Pandava brothers, doesn’t seem bad ( OK OK she had to spent 13 years of her life in exile, and also get gambled away to bad cousin-in-law Duryodhana). But then she had a whole war fought over her. All the men who abused her were killed, or the blood of their hearts drunk up.
It is unfashionable, I know, to be so swayed by the hype of western literary prizes. (Haven’t we been colonial captives long enough ? And we still let a crusty committee in the UK , dictate to us, their system of aesthetics?).
Still, how can one resist the lure of a good Lit shortlist ? So here I am , guilty as charged, caught up , in the excitement of not just the Man Booker Prize, coming in July this year, but also of , the special contest that goes with it.
The Booker is after all, the world’s biggest literary prize, after the Nobel , and the most commercially rewarding. Bizarrely, it doesn’t allow any American writers, but that doesn’t prevent the lit world, each year , from getting into a tizzy about winners and losers. This year, we’re all invited to join the jury too. We get to vote, on the Best book of all – from 40 years of Bookers prizewiners.
All we need to do ( besides reading these 6 great books ) is to go online (http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/vote) by midnight of 8th July, to register our vote. And the 6 books are ….
You might look upon him as an underdog ( never mind that he’s the world’s fourth richest man) Or you might (as much of the European establishment did) see him as the noveau riche, pesky Indian, getting above his station in life . With a peskier son by his side . But whichever way you look at it , L N Mittal’s 5 month long battle, for the crown jewel of the European steel empire , is a tale worth trawling through ( Cold Steel by journalist Tim Bonquet and communications consultant Byron Ousey, pub Little Brown UKP 20). Its racy ; and with its bizarre twists and turns, its code names, its moles and it’s multiple locations, more thriller than business book.
It’s a battle of billionaires that began with Mittals’s bid to buy Arcelor ( code named Operation Olympus) . A bid that also made the Indian born entrepreneur into the barbarian at the gate ( he was ok as long as he kept buying rust bucket plants in Uzbekistan and Mexico) …..
One woman’s inspiration is another man’s toilet paper. Nowhere is this truer than in the world of books. In my family, there are emotional arguments. The man I married, is disappointed in me. I never , never, he complains, get around to reading the wonderful non fiction volumes he dips into- Danziggers Travels, Spice, An Intimate History of Humanity et al . I’m unhappy with him as well. He can’t afford the time, he says, to get drawn into the fiction I’m constantly gripped by.
At my book club, the divisions are even sharper. There are Rushdie haters. There are Rushdie Lovers. ….