Transcript of "JustBooks - December 2011 newsletter"
Volume 2 Issue 10www.justbooksclc.comblog.justbooksclc.com CONNECT December 2011 For limited circulation A JustBooks Publication 2011: A year for books Pg 10 Quiz Pg 11 Author Profile attention is the semi-autobiographicalPushpa Achanta novel Noon (Faber and Faber, 304 pages) by Aatish Taseer. It has won praise from Pg 12 readers and reviewers alike. Taseers first fictional work The Temple GoersPushpa Achanta finds out the (Viking, 304 pages) was nominated for theresponse to English books that werepublished in 2011 and penned by Costa First Novel Award (formerly called Just the Whitbread Award) in 2010.writers from South Asia. Approached for her opinion on which Kids South Asian English books or authors were a hit in 2011, Annie Zaidi, a journal-A mitav Ghoshs River of Smoke ist, blogger, poet and author shared, "I (Viking/Penguin, 528 pages) gener- have not read most of the hundreds of South ated much interest in the literary Asian books written in English this year. Butworld this year. Ghosh won the Blue one of the books that I remember as a definiteMetropolis International Literary Grand hit is A Free Man (Random House, 240 and insightful book titled The EmperorPrix earlier this year at an annual literary pages) by Aman Sethi, journalist and writer." of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancerfestival of the same name being organ- Incidentally, Zaidi and her friend Smriti (Scribner, 592 pages) by Siddharthaized in Montreal, Canada since 1999. Ravindra, a columnist, short story writer Mukherjee stands out. It brought itsAccording to the festival website, this and teacher of creative writing from writer (an oncologist or cancer physician)prize "is awarded annually to a writer of Nepal co-authored the book The Bad into the limelight when he was conferredinternational stature and accomplishment as Boy’s Guide To The Good Indian Girl or the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfictiona celebration of a lifetime of literary achieve- The Good Indian Girls Guide To this year.ment". Loving, Living And Having Fun A debut novel of this Rhodes Scholar, it Some foreign newspapers opined that (Zubaan, 224 pages). also won the PEN/E.O. Wilson LiteraryGhosh was probably been conferred the This book reportedly attracted young Science Writing Award for 2011 and wasaward as the focus of the 2011 edition of men to its launches in a few Indian cities one of those works that were nominatedthe festival was on India. Although the earlier this year. Manu Josephs Serious for the National Book Critics Circleauthors great reputation indicates that he Men (John Murray, 310 pages) is worth Award this year.deserves it. mentioning here as it was the winner of "A book that I read and liked is The Book Another book of 2011, set in India and the PEN Open Book Award in 2011.Pakistan that got plenty of worldwide contd on pg 2... In the non-fiction category, the realistic
2 JustBooks Connect - December 2011 contd from pg 1... From the Editor’s Desk D id you read our new maga- zine INK, a magazine for you, dear book lovers? If not, then look in your librarys magazine section for it. We hope you will like our inaugural issue. We have a long way to go but with your support and encouragement, we are sure we will evolve INK into a true magazine about our book industry. Dont forget to send your of Memory (Penguin, 318 sentimentality and narrow feedback and suggestions to our pages) by psychoanalyst and world view. I was also amused editor. writer Sudhir Kakar. to see so many women writers The last two months of this year The other books I read this up in arms about it. saw many interesting literary festi- year were all released much I think I am far too confident vals and fairs being hosted across earlier than 2011", said as a writer, as are many other India. The Hay Festival in columnist and novelist C K women writers in this, to even Thiruvananthapuram, Bookaroo Meena, when asked to give his statements a credible Children Literature Festival in name South Asian English thought. Delhi, the Bangalore Book Fair, the books or authors (pub- I mention this controversy Just Write Workshop and the lished this year) that she because I hope women writers Strand Book Festival. And lest we enjoyed reading in 2011. in the future can roll their eyes forget, Year 2012 will be welcomed Annie Zaidi picked Jaane and laugh at things like this by the biggest literary festival of Bhi Do Yaaro - Seriously instead of validating such opin- India- the Jaipur Literary festival! Funny Since 1983 by ions through anger." Some exciting developments are Jaiarjun Singh (Harper happening at JustBooks, too. We Collins, 300 pages) among Some unique books of have opened more than 40 branch- the non-fiction works that 2011 es, have spread to seven cities delighted her. Retired Pakistani civil ser- across India and now provide vant Jamil Ahmad made a access to four Lakh books. You Misses and literary debut at the age of must have seen or read about Controversies of 2011 78 with The Wandering JustBooks in different Medias. On the subject of books of Falcon (Penguin, 192 pages), Many branches are conducting 2011 that were "misses" which is set in Pakistan JustBooks Events that includes sto- Annie Zaidi remarked, and Afghanistan. rytelling, essay writing, book read- "How do you judge who Oluguti Toluguti: Indian ing. All this to be better connected missed what, and who knows Rhymes to Read and Recite with its members. what it was aiming for any- (Tulika) by Radhika Menon, At JustBooks we are happy that way?" Sandhya Rao has 54 Indian we are on our way to realise our Rheaa Mukherjee, co- poems in 18 languages in vision of - Get every book a reader and founder and editor of the original tongue, English get every reader his or her book. And Urban Confustions, a jour- translations and English to achieve our vision we need nal of art and literature, and Hindi transliterations. active participation from all book added, “Its hard for me to Rakshanda Jalils short fic- lovers. choose books that were misses. tion anthology Release and We call all our members to con- I think that the relationship a Other Stories (Harper tribute regularly, and especially reader has with a piece of text is substantiat- Collins India) is probably the first one fea- our young readers to send in their ed and validated through a personal experi- turing Indian middle class muslim char- stories, poems, book reviews or any ence." acters. other interesting article for our Just It is pertinent to state that despite the I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded Kids pages. large number of English books being (Penguin, 328 pages) - verses of the epony- In this last edition of Year 2011 released in this country, many of them mous 14th century Kashmiri woman JustBooks Connect, lets find out have done well either in terms of com- mystic also known as Lalleshwari, ren- from some literary figures what merce or critical response or both. Small dered in English by Ranjit Hoskote. books of 2011 they liked or did not wonder as India is amongst the top ten Narayans Kocharethi, The Arayar like. And also look into some nations in the world in publishing. Woman (Oxford University Press, 264 unique titles. Mukherjee opined about a distasteful pages) translated by Catherine Tell us what you think of this edi- literary incident in 2011, "I thought it Thankamma is perhaps the first work by tion and write in your thoughts and funny that V S Naipaul said that womens a tribal man from Kerala. contributions to editor@just- writing is different, partly because of their Lets see now what 2012 will bring! booksclc.com.
JustBooks Connect - December 2011 3 Stealing Karma Selected Poems Aneesha Capur Pablo Neruda Harper Collins Penguin BooksReshmi Chakraborty Pushpa Achanta A W neesha Capurs Stealing Karma riting substantive poetry is based in Nairobi where Mira does not come easily to all. Sharma lives a luxurious but dis- Understanding what the contented life with her husband and poet is trying to convey may take daughter. History fogs up the present as more than one reading. More so, in Mira keeps slipping into bouts of depres- the case of translated verses. But not sion despite her determination to be a so, when one is reading the leg- better wife and mother. When things go endary poet Pablo Neruda. wrong, Mira has to survive for the sake Pablo Neruda (the pen name of of her daughter. Neftali Reyes) started writing verses Together with their African house- when he was around ten and his first keeper, mother and daughter form an collection was published when he unusual family as Mira tries to battle her was about sixteen years old underdemons and her daughter Shanti tries to get through to a moth- the nom de plume that he chose for himself.er lost in the stupor of memories. One of the few poets who won the Nobel Prize for This is a novel that piques curiosity if only for the unusual Literature, Neruda wrote many verses in Spanish that hadKarmic angle to the mother-daughter saga. It is moving and depth amidst simplicity. The sea, women, love, death, ships,poignant despite the problems in its plot. factory workers and cities and countries that he visited Capur is a gifted writer and creates some truly touching inspired him to pen lines that reflected his feelings aboutmoments out of simple situations. them. Selected Poems consists of some of Nerudas poetic The book works on many levels and addresses several issues expressions that were translated into English.including familial relations and racial prejudice but despite its The presence of the Spanish and English versions on adja-flaws, Stealing Karma is a novel that piques curiosity if only for cent pages of this collection may be distracting to some read-the unusual Karmic angle to the mother-daughter saga. ers irrespective of the languages they know. Written beautifully, Stealing Karma, is assured and sharp for However, anyone who enjoys poetry should definitelya debut novel. read this master. Maverick: The Success Story Behind The Geek NationWorlds Most Unusual Workplace Angela SainiRicardo Semler Hodder & StoughtonRandom HouseManjula Sundharam Dr. Rajagopalan R W icardo Semler narrates his ill India regain its pre-renais- change management story as a sance position in global sci- leader at one of Latin ence and technology? Why Americas fastest growing companies. did it not live it up to its promise since He describes how his unconventional independence? Is it because of the leadership changed the environment stranglehold of its traditions and super- in the company from autocratic to stitions? Or is it because of penny participative and made it the most pinching in funding R&D? Did the IT preferred workplace in Brazil. boom raise Indias profile in the global If employees are asked to blindly markets while ironically diverting its follow instructions without question- top talent into mindless coding? What ing, how can they be encouraged to are some of the valiant and significant think, innovate and act as human R&D happening in India?beings? The author defines Geekiness as ones passion about an intel- Following this thought Semler allowed his employees at the lectual pursuit. Indian civilization was once arguably waymanufacturing plant to dress as they please, enter the work- ahead of the western world in science and technology.place at a time they thought was reasonable for themselves and European renaissance helped the western world make rapid sci-their teams, pick a task that excited them, and choose a salary entific and technological progress. Colonialism fueled westernthat they thought they deserved. Fixed working hours, rigid capitalism with cheap raw materials, captive markets and mili-organizational charts, and policy manuals strip away freedom tary might. Was the decline in Indian science and technology aand give a false feeling of discipline. By allowing employees to natural consequence? If so, how come India failed to regain itsspeak their minds and letting them determine their own way (rightful?) place, even after six decades of independence? Thisof achieving goals, Semler persuaded his employees to work as book explores this failure of post-independence India, from theresponsible adults and increased productivity at the work perspective of an U.K born Indian. place. For the full reviews check out justbooksclc.com
4 JustBooks Connect - December 2011The abcd of Bengali detectives Sleuthing Bengali Style - including the guests, Agarwals secre- also worried about the marriage of hisThe All Bengali Crime Detectives tary and an itinerant seller of collectibles daughter and how he will pay for that. who had come to show Agarwal his One of the sub-plots is the search for aSuparna Chatterjee wares. The not ready for retirement stal- groom for this daughter Pia. AndRupa and Co warts - ABCD, who are also miffed at although this is the major preoccupation being forced to take a back seat in the of the mother, the father aside from local organization of the Puja pandal by a sleuthing, also gets involved in the inter- younger gang of the para or neighbour- actions. Pia goes through the habitual teaGeetanjali Singh Chanda hood youth, take up the challenge of solv- and "seeing" of the girl but does not hesi- ing the crime. tate to speak her mind and swiftly dis- The retired judge is definitely the misses each suitor with her outspoken- brains of the group and orchestrates the ness. Pia is possibly the only female char-T others. But each one plays their part in acter with guts in this novel. For the rest, his debut novel is an ethno-detec- tracking down suspects and applying all four wives are non-differentiable from tive thriller, and as much a medita- their sleuthing skills. One of the four is a each other and presented as stereotypical tion on retirement and Bengali wives whose livesBengaliness as it is a whodunit. But revolve around the kitchen,often the tension of a thriller looses procuring the right fish for theout to wonderful snippets and day, nagging their husbandsfoibles of the Bengalis ranging from and finding suitable matchesruminations on the adda culture, for their daughters.pet names like Poltu, Bhombol or As the plot evolves, the chaseKaltu that can ruin the amorous for the criminal results in vari-advances of many a roadside ous red herrings and unexpect-Romeo, to delicious snippets of ed twists. Finally it is thewhy the simple gulab jamun is retired judge who calls a meet-called ledikeni in Bangla. ing at Mr. Agarwals house and The four retirees "with receding unravels the various threads tohairlines and protruding bellies" are reveal who actually stole thehardly detective material but then priceless diamond that may notthey also feel too young to opt out have been so priceless after all.of life as such. They gather in the The author, Suparnapark, ostensibly to exercise, but Chatterjee was born andmainly to participate in the particu- brought up in Calcutta but nowlarly Bengali pastime of adda. lives in Bangalore. This proba- For the non-initiates, an adda is a bly accounts for the nostalgiagathering (mainly of men), who that imbues this first novel. Themeet to chat. The topics range from loving descriptions of thingsthe price of fish, to local gossip to Bengali are one of the rarepolitics to comparisons between the charms of the book.filmic genius of Satyajit Ray and There is even a fascinatingJean-Luc Godard, to Marxist philos- historical anecdote that attrib-ophy. The latest to join the group of utes the change of Durga Pujasenior citizens is Akhil Bannerjee, a from a spring festival to anrecently retired judge, who com- autumnal one back to the battlepletes the ABCD series of - Akhil, of Plassey in 1757. (I cannotBibhuti, Chandan and Debdas. potential suspect himself as not only was account for the veracity of the story but One day, unexpectedly, they all receive he the last to see the diamond but he is why not?) There is also a hilariousan invitation to dinner from a rather aloof description of the competition amongMr. Agarwal who lives in the same various paras for the best Durga Pujaneighbourhood. They spend a convivialevening together but the next day they The loving descriptions of things pandals.are in for a shock when they discover Bengali are one of the rare charms Chatterjee acknowledges her debt to "Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and Satyajitthat Mr. Agarwals prize collectors of the book. There is even a fasci- Ray - three writers who planted in me aitem, a diamond, the size of a pigeon’segg, has gone missing. They had seen nating historical anecdote that burning desire to become a sleuth" but herthe exquisite jewel just that evening and attributes the change of Durga real talent is not so much in weaving a detective story, which is almost inci-are horrified at how it could have disap- Puja from a spring festival to an dental here, but in recounting andpeared from under their collectivenoses. Immediately the first suspects are autumnal one back to the battle of transporting one into a fun and ethno-the servants and then the various others Plassey in 1757. graphic account of Bengalis. This is justwho could have had access to the jewel the book for a long plane journey.
JustBooks Connect - December 2011 5The Gandhi wayOf idealism and loving those we changeBharathipura Jagannaths complex but naïve faith is form of creation, but our hero does not moving. He believes that his iconoclasti- see himself as an anarchist but one with aUR Ananthamurthy cism will somehow free the spirit of the vision of a dynamic modern town towards a new creative impulse. To Bharathipura. He does not have a clearTranslated from Kannada by him, the image of the deity Manjunatha, idea of what kind of a practical changeSusheela Punitha is a symbol of an ignorant, superstitious, this notion of modernity would shapeOxford University Press apathetic society, with its unjust value itself into.Dr. Rajeshwari Ghose system. By breaking the superstitions surrounding its "purity" and the entrenched fears which stop the untouch- W hat he does have are a number of questions reeling in his head. Inactivity, to him is no option. He must ables from entering its divine precincts, act or he must die. The stance is dramat- he hopes to free the townspeople from ic. He is young; western educated and isL ike Ananthamurthys earlier novel the constrictions of the womb space. full of anxiety of the existentialist, a Samskara, this novel too, was orig- Breaking iconic sanctity is an age old trendy school of thought in his student inally written in Kannada. We are historical phenomenon-the images are days. His rather quaint friend Adiga, thefortunate to have English transla- temple priest, warns himtions of at least these two of his that it could be his ego thatmajor works. is playing up. Could it? The central character in this Our hero has no surenovel, Jagannath is a person with answers. His friend Rayaruwhom it is easy for a candid mod- warns him that sustainingern Indian reader, to identify. He idealism in the real worldfeels like many of us, impotent is only for the very brave.with rage at the appalling treat- His own Gandhian idealsment of the underdogs of society, have left him a pauper andin this case, specifically the pari- at odds with his wife andahs. family in a world that idol- Even more important, he sees izes Gandhi but nourisheshimself as a non-person, some- unbridled greed and cor-how inauthentic, if he does noth- ruption.ing to change the social order When Jagannath finallywhich he confronts all around accomplishes what he setshim in his mofussil temple town out to do and makes theof Bharathipura. He can smell its untouchables touch thestench and see its dark alleys, sacred Saligrama, in hisboth in a literal and metaphoric own domestic shrine, andsense. The revolutionary in him breaks the taboo of thewants to get rid of the "age old untouchable entering thesuperstitions" and substitute it temple, he feels he haswith the "scientific temper", and finally acted. But where isthereby extricate the inhabitants the creative impulse thatof the town from the "womb of this act of destruction wasManjunatha", the local all encom- supposed to unleash?passing deity. The untouchables are He works out a simple prioriti- ideological and mentalzation for his revolutionary agen- constructs for Jagannath;da. If the central ideology of the they are not real individu-town—its faith in a pure temple, als whom he knows. Is thatunpolluted by the entry of what leads to the ratheruntouchables can be shaken—and outlandish ending of theif the collective of "untouchables" tale? He observes that it iscan be made "touchable" a rational socio- only those we can changeeconomic order will inevitably follow. either reinvested with a new garb of that we can love. Was he trying to change The book was first published in 1973 sacredness or are replaced by other icons. the pariahs into images of himself withand was written when temple entry was What exactly is to replace Manjunatha? their clean shirts and white dhothis? Wasstill a social issue, especially in South Will the creative impulse automatically such a transformation possible or evenIndia. Though the specific issue may be follow the destruction? The famous desirable? The novel, to quotedated, the social realities still persist Russian anarchist and iconoclast Bakunin A.K.Ramanujan, in another context, endsmuch in the same mangled fashion. believed that destruction itself was a but does not conclude.
6 JustBooks Connect - December 2011In conversation The art of making children read your children discover the pleasures of for decades, are being made attractiveRam Mohan Susarla reading. Making the books meant for and relevant to the times that we live in. children into movies is yet another good Overall there is no shortage of goodO news. books. N ne of the refrains heard often from ow books are becoming parents these days available in the electronic is that their chil- format, so children can bedren do not have time to encouraged to read the eBooksread or are not interested and utilize the time spentin anything beyond their browsing in a productive man-course work and syllabus. ner. Instead of using the internetThis is true to a certain as a medium to just downloadextent. The demands on music and movies, the addedthe present youngsters are pleasure of making them readmore and the time avail- would be akin to getting a dou-able to pursue interests ble Sundae for them. Reading isother than their studies is a wholesome entertainer and theless. And when one con- sheer volumes of titles availablesiders the range of options in the market for children mustthat children have, to uti- surely be an incentive for thelize their spare time rang- parents to take their kids oning from outdoor physical weekends to bookstores whereactivity to video games they can get good bargains onand browsing the internet, childrens books. Taking kids toto make them read is books stores or library, askingindeed a challenging task. them to pick their own However, before taking books, helps in expos-them to task for their lack of ing kids to the world ofinterest in reading, it is worth- books and ignites theirwhile to introspect about curiosity. Reading willwhether as parents, we have follow from this curios-made efforts to inculcate the ity.reading habit in them. How Talking about makingmany of us as parents have actu- children read remindsally taken the trouble to intro- me of the grandmotherduce their wards to the joys and tales that we used listenpleasures of reading? as bedtime stories. It These are some observations on always helps if parentsthe changing trends in our can set aside some timelifestyle that have occurred over everyday to tell storiesthe last couple of decades. When or read to their childrenwe were growing up, the only and make them realizealternative to outdoor activity that there is a worldand reading was Doordarshan. beyond TV and theNow, with the entire gamut of Internet. As the clichéhundreds of channels and the goes, if you do not haveinternet along with gaming con- the time, you must cre-soles vying for the childrens ate time. Bedtime read-attention, reading has taken a Like the Tintin series —on which many ing for young children and discussingbackseat. of us grew up on—and the release of the books with your teenagers and adoles- An exception is the runaway success of movie by Steven Spielberg. Comics are cents might be what is needed for yourthe Harry Potter Phenomenon which has any day a good enough reason for chil- children to get hooked on to books. All ingiven some hope. It has re-introduced the dren to get out of bed and hence these all, making reading a family affair willgeneration of today to the pleasure of developments must be welcomed. provide the necessary impetus for your Yreading. I call it a phenomenon as nothing oung minds love interestingly illus- kids to become full-fledged readers.comes close to the impact that the Harry trated good stories. And fortunately Catch them young and watch themPotter series has had on young minds and publishers like Tulika, Tara Books, Young grow. This must be the motto in all mat-hearts and the way in which they Zubaan, NBT, CBT and Scholastic India ters and with reading as well. Once youthronged the bookstores at dawn on the are coming out with such books for have the basics in place, rest assuredrelease day. It was indeed heart-warming young readers. Old favourites like Amar everything would follow. A good placefor a Gen X booklover like me. Books like Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Chandamama and to start would be your local library and athese could be a starting point in letting Champak, which held children in sway good time to start is now.
JustBooks Connect - December 2011 7 The Physics Formula Is the Future Already Here?Physics of the Future our own genome sequence on a CD for as Kaku claims that our little as $100. Tissue engineering and growing of organs from our own cells for wants, dreams, personalitiesMichio Kaku replacement in human body shop, and desires havent changedAllen Pane cloning, gene therapy, genetic enhance- much in the last 100,000 years. ments etc., will become common place. There are similar predictions in other Like our cavemen ancestors, we areas. In IT, quantum computing might still demand proof of the kill. be the in-thing. While robots performingDr. Rajagopalan routine tasks will be common place, ing an end to the era of scarcity. Nor does humans will still man tasks requiring pat- he explore the problem of the plenty, tern recognition and common sense. though he rightly points out that the real Computer chips will become so embed- bottleneck in the future will not be tech- ded into gadgets that we will no longer nological hardware but the availability of be aware of them. Superconductors at manual labour intensive software. room temperatures will enable trans- It would have been very instructive if portation using magnetism. the author had taken the further step of While these predictions may or may not explicating the implications of the per- come true, Kaku points out that these are sistence or otherwise of the so-called nevertheless based on current scientific caveman principle. For example, how is work. One cannot help noticing the liber- it that the author claims that we will al dose of optimism of the author, espe- become a planetary civilization but still will behave like cavemen? After all, a planetary civilization is supposed to be symbolized by the growing integration wrought by the internet, English language, globalized economy, universal cul- ture, a common environment, sports, tourism and even global pandemics. Another major blind spot of the book is the absence of any discus-W sion on what would happen to our e have consistently underes- flora and fauna in the light of such timated the power of science dramatic projections on scientific to revolutionalize society. developments and their impacts.We get enamored by the achievements Then, the book would have beenof entrepreneurs, inventors and enter- much more interesting, even if attainers and ignore the importance of cially on predicted developments in the cost of leaving out predictions regard-fundamental contributions of scientists. exploring space and space travel. The ing the far future. As it is, such predic-In reality, it is only when we learnt to har- author counters this by pointing out how tions of the far future sound more iffyness a new force of nature - gravity, elec- some of the common place technologies and like flights of imagination.tromagnetism, the weak nuclear force or of today sounded like science fiction even But nature can throw many surprises.the strong nuclear force- human society as recently as 1900s. Just recently, scientists have been puz-underwent significant transformations. The author zones in on the problem of zled about some sub-atomic particlesWhat are such fundamental break- adequate energy sources and their effi- which apparently travel at speeds fasterthroughs in the pipeline? How will they cient use as the most crucial questions. than light! They are frantically setting upimpact our lives? He hopes that a combination of nuclear experiments at enormous costs to verify In contrast to the rapid advances in fusion and solar energy will prove ade- this claim. If this claim holds, how canhumanitys scientific and technological quate. Nanotechnology, superconductivi- one distinguish the past, present andknowledge, Kaku claims that our wants, ty at normal temperatures and other such future? How will we define cause-effectdreams, personalities and desires havent developments will vastly improve effi- relationships?changed much in the last 100,000 years. ciency. There is in fact a possibility that One interesting aspect of the book is theLike our cavemen ancestors, we still humanity will say goodbye to the era of colorful characters working on the cut-demand proof of the kill. This caveman scarcity. ting edge of science. In contrast to popu-principle will continue to tilt the balance However, his effort at incorporating the lar notions, these scientists sound morein favour of high-touch over the panacea implications of social, economic and like excited children, devoting entireoffered by high-tech. political factors on technological devel- careers chasing a dream which may Just to get an idea, let us look at some of opments and its deployment is at best never materialize in their life time. Whatthe predictions for medicine. Biology will spotty. For example, he does not consider drives them to do this? become information science. We can get the impact of expanding wants in project-
8 JustBooks Connect - December 2011 Reader’s Reader’s contribution The down payment for happiness Voice Sulekha Kumar Our Lady of Alice Bhatti Mohammed Hanif Jonathan Cape I n the colossal chaos that is Karachi what chances does the junior nurse Sister Alice Bhatti, a Catholic from the untouchable choohra community have for protecting her body, her dignity and her dream. Alices experiences in life have made Things that have changed her bold and defiant, wise and cautious and yet givens of the social set up are since I joined JustBooks such that she is extremely vulnerable atA the same time. "Every step forward in life long year has passed by since I is preceded by a ritual humiliation. Every lit- took a membership at JustBooks. tle happiness asks for a down payment." The books here are really inter- Will Alice rise above her circum- of the people, top it up with the police,esting and come in a huge variety. This stances, amid her past in Borstal jail, her underworld, and the tragic set of eventshas increased my appetite for reading home in the squalor of French Colony, is set into motion.more and more. the filth of Sacred Heart Hospital and her A sizzling satire in a crisp tight knit I have started exploring books written marriage to a police tout? narrative; brings into focus the vices thatby new authors that I never knew The bleak drama of Alice Bhattis life is grip the society in Karachi. Hanif hasbefore; this is giving me a great view played out against the backdrop of cer- penned it in brilliantly evocative proseabout the world around me and has also tain motifs. with wry humour and sparkling wit. Theimproved my language. This obsession First, vibrant presence of mindless vio- story crackles all the way through withof reading books is pretty infectious. lence embodied in guns of various sharp and cutting irony. The novel enter- Whenever I have guests staying over descriptions- Kalashnikovs, Mausers, tains and depresses too. It is a sordid taleat home, I get them to come to JustBooks toysize pistols all find uses in settling with no character in chaotic Karachiwith me and it so happens that they scores, declaring love and possibly, get- offering any hint or hope of redemption.always step out with a book which turns ting rid of boredom.out to be a very enjoyable read. Second, lusting and leering men All in all, JustBooks has added that Sulekha Kumar, a member of JustBooks abound, men who look upon women asextra bit of spice to my life by offering RMV II Stage, is a freelance writer who loose change in a street deal or slavesbooks that just pushes my imagination! has published short stories in Hindi and they bought in a clearance sale, men English. A gold medalist in English who have no qualms about intimidating Ananth Kamath, Malleshwaram Literature and Russian from Bhopal women into sexual acts and then cutting Bangalore University, she taught at MLB College them up. before joining (and assisting) her husband Third, class hierarchy, caste prejudice, in his diplomatic assignments. During clan clout and cold crass calculation their home postings, she held many edito- play their game to the finish with a bru- rial positions, of which she particularly tality and brazenness. Add to that the enjoyed her stint at the Childrens Book ignorance, gullibility and impulsiveness Trust.
JustBooks Connect - December 2011 9Reader’s contribution Tamil stories and their controversies Unable to bear the torture, the wife sets Tamil stories and controver-G Venkatesh herself on fire and stealthily clutches onto her husband tightly and has her sies have always been Siamese silent revenge. Writer Anuradha twins. The Brahmin communityW e all agree that writing is a cre- Ramanan alleged that this movie was burnt copies of the magazine ative process. Most of the story based on a story written by her. writers are able to visualize Maharishis Bhadrakali was another that carried the controversialsomething beyond the ordinary and pen novel that ended up in a controversy but story Chirai by Anuradhait in an eloquent form, and that results in of a different kind. Ramanan. The story evidentlya work of fiction. Some of which can The 1975 movie, also titled Bhadrakalicause controversies. and based on the novel was about the was semi-autobiographical; like Amongst the Indian literature, Tamil travails of an impoverished Tamil the heroine in the story,literature has one of the richest legacies Brahmin family where the married Anuradha was deserted by hercreated by its writers. But many of these daughter ends up with mental sicknesswriters have also faced a lot of flak for after she witnesses a horrific rape and husband, though the similaritywriting the unthinkable that the conser- murder. ends there.vative Tamil society found difficult to Deserted by her husband after shedigest. While some writers struggled ends up killing herwith legal wrangles and court cases over own child in acredits, delayed payments and copyright demented state, theissues. woman kills the vil- Writer K Jayalakshmi, it appears, was lain in the end afterfighting a court case with producer- donning the avatardirector K.S. Gopalakrishnan, for half of of Bhadrakali.her life time. She had written a short The actress playingstory about an impoverished family the lead role unfortu-where the daughter gets married to an nately died in aaffluent man. plane crash even Her brother goes to her house on an before the movie wasinvitation for a birthday party for his released and scepticsnephew and is outraged atthe treatment given to him.While he leaves his sistersplace, his sister hurriedlythrusts a bag in his hand. After returning home, thebrother, incensed at hismother and wife for forcing magazine that carried the controver-him to attend the birthday sial story Chirai by Anuradhaparty without a formal invi- Ramanan. The story evidently wastation, throws the bag. From semi-autobiographical; like the hero-the bag that was given by ine in the story, Anuradha washis sister, rupee notes and a deserted by her husband, though theletter hurl out. Allegedly, similarity ends there.the director lifted this story With dwindling writing talent, theand made it into a movie controversies have also slowly diedthat enraged the writer down. But it is a comforting fact thatbecause there were no cred- creativity in Tamil writing has beenits given to her in the movie. of the highest order. Needless to add, the pay-ment came to her only aftershe filed a case in the court. A still from the movie Bhadrakali G Venkatesh lives in HAL stage In one other Tamil movie, there III and works for a private firm inis a silently suffering woman (Revathi) said that she had not followed proper Indira Nagar. He is a voraciousfrom a very poor and downtrodden fam- religious norms during her portrayal of reader and an amateur writer.ily, who marries a municipality worker Bhadrakali and so she paid the price for Essentially a Mumbaikar, he has(Pandian). The torture of the poor it.woman begins right after marriage with Thus, Tamil stories and controversies shifted to Bangalore more than athe drunkard husband bringing in a have always been Siamese twins. The year ago. Music, Gardening andstreetwalker into the house. Brahmin community burnt copies of the Reading are his other hobbies.
10 JustBooks Connect - December 2011 1. Cricket writer Rahul 4. This is the first novel written by an Indian adivasi: Bhattacharya bagged this award Kocharethi recently: Oluguti Toluguti Castrol Awards for Cricketing Chemmeen Excellence The Hindu Literary Prize 5. Controversially Yours is penned by: Man Booker Prize Herschelle Herman Gibbs Shoaib Akhtar Vinod Kambli2. Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize of 2011 was given to:The Wandering FalconThe CollaboratorChinaman3. Which volume ofthe Ibis trilogy isRiver of Smoke?FirstLastSecond The Hindu Literary Prize, The Wandering Falcon, Second, Kocharethi, Shoaib Akhtar JUSTBOOKS Justbooks arrives in Mangalore TOP 5 O ur newest library - JustBooks Mangalore - opened yesterday to an ecstatic welcome by the reading community and citi- zens . It went on to create a record within the JustBook fran- N EW A RRIVALS chisee community for the most memberships on the opening day!1. 1Q84 by Haruki It was an electrifying, exciting, fun filled and deeply satisfyingMurakami day. To us, the one picture that really epitomizes the arrival of2. The Litigators by John JustBooks in the community of book lovers is this:Grisham3. The Affair by Lee child4. Lucknow Boy: A Memoirby Vinod Mehta5. A Shot at History by AbhinavBindraR ECOMMENDED1. Pigeon English by StephenKelman2. The Storyteller OfMarrakesh By Joydeep-RoyBhattacharya3. The Sari Shop by RupaBajwa4. Chasing The Monsoon byAlexander Frater5. Does He Know A Mother’s Heart?by Arun ShourieR ENTALS1. Revolution 2020 by ChetanBhagat Seeing this picture, we are reminded of the quote from Katherine2. The Secret Of The Nagas by Patterson: "It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have toAmish Tripathi give them something worth reading.3. The Kane Chronicles (Book Something that will stretch their imaginations-something that will help2) by Rick Riordan them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book people whose lives are quite different from their own."3) by Jeff Kinney Cheers!5. Percy Jackson and the From JustBooks blog - http://blog.justbooksclc.com Olympians(Book 2) by Rick Riordan
JustBooks Connect - December 2011 11Author Profile Iris Murdoch unsympathetic and she does notAnindita Sengupta spare us an unflinching view of the IN A NUTSHELL inner workings of their minds. Take Charles Arrowby from The Sea, theT Born On: here are novelists whom everyone Sea, one of her most famous works. July 15, 1919. agrees about and there are others He starts off sounding eccentric, who incite such dissenting views even amusing, but quickly tests Born In:that a room might contain both ardent patience with a host of inexplicably Dublin, Ireland.fans and desperate denouncers. Of the self-centred actions. Murdoch offerstwo categories, Jean Iris Murdoch elaborate insight into how he Parents:belonged to the latter. A section have arrives at his destructive decisions. British of Irish origin; father worked in thedismissed her as nothing better than a Yet, there is a dark thread running civil service.romance novelist, speedy and sensation- through the book that leaves noal. doubt that these actions cannot be Education: Studied philosophy at Oxford But for her legions of fans, Murdoch is justified. and Cambridge.a novelist who exercised immense con- Some critics complain that thetrol over plot, character and situation, a philosopher sometimes triumphs Married To:writer with great psychological insight, over the novelist, reducing charac- John Bayley, professor of English and nov-stylistic beauty and wit, and a strong ters to puppets thrown into situa- elist.moral core. tions to make a point. The kinder It is certainly worth remembering that way of looking at this is that what Selected Bibliography:despite being considered one of the powers one forward through the Under the Net (1954)prominent writers in the ethical litera- unsavoury actions of characters is The Bell (1958)ture movement, she maintained a fine the coiled spring of dramatic ten- A Severed Head (1961)balance, an integrity within her novels, sion. Murdoch believed that it was The Unicorn (1963)that prevented them from becoming important to "invent characters and The Italian Girl (1964)didactic or preachy. Murdoch disliked convey something dramatic, which at The Red and the Green (1965)the label of "philosophical novelist" and the same time has deep spiritual signifi- The Time of the Angels (1966)preferred to see herself in the tradition cance (The Paris Review)." The Nice and the Good (1968)of the nineteenth-century masters-Sir This dramatic momentum was Brunos Dream (1969)Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Lev Tolstoy- crucial in gliding over the strange, A Fairly Honourable Defeat (1970)whom she found "to a staggering degree bizarre and uncanny happenings in An Accidental Man (1971)better than the most praised of contemporary the characters lives. Despite dense The Black Prince (1973), winner of thenovelists." language in many places and rumi- James Tait Black Memorial Prize For Murdoch, the task of the novel nations on a variety of human and The Sacred and Profane Love Machinewas concerned above all else with love, metaphysical elements, Murdochs (1974), winner of the Whitbread Literarythat is, our "indefinitely extended capacity novels are eminently readable. Award for Fictionto imagine the being of others." Her charac- Theyre in her own words "jolly A Word Child (1975)ters are often deeply flawed, even good yarns". Murdoch wanted peo- Henry and Cato (1976) ple to enjoy reading her books The Sea, the Sea (1978), winner of the and this is evident in the tight Booker Prize grip she maintains on plot and Nuns and Soldiers (1980) characters, both elements working The Philosophers Pupil (1983) seamlessly to propel the novel The Good Apprentice (1985) forward. Her novels are hugely The Book and the Brotherhood (1987) enjoyable and often have the sus- The Message to the Planet (1989) pense and thrills one associates The Green Knight (1993) with crime fiction. She deftly bal- Jacksons Dilemma (1995) ances the slower, more mundane details of a characters life--so nec- Day Job: essary and revealing--with drastic Civil servant, lecturer at Oxford University. events. There is a sense of the ter- rible. Dreams, intense visions and Influences: illusions play an important part Simon Weil, Plato, Sartre, Wittgenstein, in heightening this sense. Her Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, George Eliot, Marcel plots are intricately patterned and Proust, William Shakespeare. there are symmetries within them. Reading Murdoch is that Awards: rare experience-enlightening as Dame Commander of the Order of the well as entertaining. British Empire; on the 2008 Times list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
12 JustBooks Connect - December 2011 Just KidsFolk tales from Bhutan:Room in your HeartKunzang ChodenPema Tshering (Illustrator)Age group: 6 - 11 yearsPages: 36Jayanthi HarshaO ne of the greatest and most terri- bly powerful things in the world is love. Love is the reason whyhumanity is in harmony and not inchaos today. Certain types of love, likemothers love for her children are thestrongest. But, the purest type of lovehas no barriers, encompassing thewhole of civilization itself.Unfortunately, we all are too busy withour own personal survival, success and accepted cheerfully into the cottage by They represent hospitality in its purestglory, that we forget that there are oth- the old woman. She manages to feed form from which it later evolved to theers around us, apart from our own fami- them all and give them space and shel- forms we see everywhere round us. Thely members to be loved as well. ter for the night. Finally, when it is time writer carefully weaves the storyUnderstanding this fact fully will take to leave, the strangers begin to under- towards the conclusion, which is neatlyus further on the path towards perfec- stand the true essence of the old and beautifully conveyed, taking in thetion, rather than things like immortality womans kindness to them. reader along with the vistors them-or great wealth. The most important thing about the selves. "Neypo shong gna? Is there room for story, apart from the moral itself is its The book, despite its few pages, man-me?" simplicity, which is just as simple as the ages to convey a lot of meaning to the This book showcases one such exam- old woman herself. The author does not reader. Young children understand notples of true love. An old woman lives need to invoke complicated happenings just the true meaning of welcomingwith a dog, cock and a cat in a cottage like magic or even natural elements like strangers, but caring and respectingby the hills. She lives simply, enjoying storms to head the story to its final con- them as well. The children will also likelife without festivity or glamour. One clusion. The pictures painted in water the story for its simple language and itsday, when night has fallen, some travel- colors help to bring the characters to life, colorful descriptions. The paintings helpers seek refuge in the tiny cottage. in the progress bringing the story closer- to convey the various traits of theWithout hesitation, the old woman to the reader. The words - "Neypo shong Bhutanese people in the form of the visi-accepts them all. As the night passes, gna? "and the response the old woman tors to the old womans cottage. more strangers come along and are gives every time become quite symbolic. JustBooks Picks for Young Readers Mall Mania by Stuart J. Murphy In The Country Of Gold-digging Ants The Adventures Of The New Cut by Anu Kumar Gang by Philip Pullman Percy And The Rabbit by Nick Butterworth Diary Of A Soccer Star by Shamini Flint Trouble At The Taj by Sonja Chandrachud The Shining Stones by Shanti Pappu How To Save A Dragon by Annie Dalton Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
JustBooks Connect - December 2011 13 Just Kids Riding the mystery wave on behalf of Scorpia to another mem- Alex Rider - Scorpia Rising ber, Abdul Aziz al-Razim. Since Alex Rider has had victorious Anthony Horowitz clashes with Scorpia which led to the Age Group: 12-18 years, downfall of its prestige and deaths of Pages: 431 very crucial members of Scorpia —read Publisher: Walker India fifth and seventh book— Razim decides to use Alex Rider as a weapon against the British government. Scorpia kills one of its founding members, Levi T Kroll and dumps his body in the river o enjoy this book fully, it is Thames in London. advisable to read the first eight A message is found in his coat pock- books in the Alex Rider series. et which leads MI6 to Cairo in Egypt. After undergoing a variety of victori- Once MI6 has taken the bait, it sends ous adventures, Alex Rider begins his Alex Rider life as a normal undercover as boy whose life a student to revolves around Cairo where school and home- something big work. is going to The clashes with happen. criminals and Once Alex encounters with Rider reaches My Parents assassins who Cairo, Scorpia want to kill him executes the You have always been there for us are far from his final phase of You have taught us right from wrong mind. Alex starts its plan. To You have taught us Gods words believing that he make this You have taught us his song will ultimately more interest- become a normal ing Scorpia Everyday you teach us boy from a super brings an old Goodness, Compassionate and Charity spy, but that does enemy of Alex You believe in the people of the world not happen. Rider back And, with kindness, what it could be Very soon the into his life. In criminal organisa- Cairo it all I would like to thank God tion "Scorpia" —to comes to an Because we have been truly blessed find out more end as Scorpia There is no other way of putting it about Scorpia read is pulling the As both of you are the best the fifth book— strings and strikes a business MI6 is just You give me education deal with an extremely wealthy man dancing to their tune. And dont let me bore from Greece named Yannis Ariston The language in the book is very sim- As you both are the only one Xenopolos. ple and transports the reader to the After you there is nothing more The deal is to bring back the exqui- world of Alex Rider. It is definitely an site Elgin marbles from London to irresistible book. To find out more read Janishjit Singh Bedi, Class V, Vibgyor High Greece. Since the British government the book. School , Mumbai had refused to return the Elgin marbles back to its rightful owners-the Greeks, Rahul Rajpal, Class VIII, St. Josephs Ariston who loves his country and its Central School, Mysore heritage beyond limits decides to takeJanishjit is an avid reader especially of it by force. Rahul is a member of JustBooks KDBONES from Justbooks Hiranandani, Ariston arranges for a secret meeting Road, Mysore. He is a voracious readerPowai, Mumbai. He loves to play tennis with Zeljan Kurst, who is the current and loves mimicry. He also likes toand keyboard. During his free time he cre- head of Scorpia to hatch an immaculate swim and play badminton.ates cartoon characters and games. He is a plan to restore the heritage of the He wants to become an actor when heperson who is always ready to help when Greeks. Zeljan Kurst entrusts this grows up. someone needs him. responsibility of formulating the plan Young Readers can send their contribution to email@example.com