JustBooks Connect - February 2011 newsletter


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JustBooks Connect - February 2011 newsletter

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JustBooks Connect - February 2011 newsletter

  1. 1. Volume 1 Issue 12www.justbooksclc.comblog.justbooksclc.com CONNECT February 2011 For limited circulation A Justbooks Publication2010 in a Tag Cloud Pg 7 Anindita Sengupta Upon A Time in Quiz Scandinivistan. Turbulence is a roller coaster ride throughS hould I do the unthinkable? Start superhuman country with with Chetan crime-fighting and reality Bhagat, that is. TV thrown in whileWho could ignorehim as bestseller OYeahs book is a clever, funny crime novel set in a Pg 11status, overflowing Sweden colonised byprint runs and Asians. A little further afield, China Just(Three) Idiot-basedcontroversy dogged Miévilles Kraken had a scary squid try- ing to crush London in its tentacles. Kidshis unweary pen. Miéville also came to town to do a read-So is he a genius or ing of his work and engaged in a livelya scambag, a sign of discussion with young writers from thedwindling IQ or our hope for a new kind city.of reader? The jurys still out but nobodycan deny that where there is literary dis- eBooks Pg 12cussion, there is Bhagats name popping Eup either in admiration or bewilderment. lsewhere in the world, ebooksOther talked-about writers included became big.Rana Dasgupta, whose Solo won the Amazons AuthorCommonwealth Writers Prize. An epictale told by a centenarian in Bulgaria, Kindle was followed Profile by others includingSolo has all the key ingredients for liter- the Apple iPadary frolic-blindness, music, talking par- which seems gearedrots and the making of a nation. Manu for cult status.Josephs Serious Men made waves and Clicking replaced optimistic that this will change. Me? Imbagged the Hindu Literary Award while flipping. Some peo- getting new bookshelves made.in non-fiction Raghuram Rajans Fault ple forgot that onceLines got the Goldman Sachs Award for upon a time, book-Best Book. marks were made of paper. Book Fairs On its peak day this holiday sea- A Fiction Genre son, Amazons worldwide fulfil- s of now, the printed book powers ment network shipped over nine on. Book Fairs continued to spellG enre fiction looked million units across all product cate- hope even as a bookshop like up with two excit- gories, roughly 158 items per sec- Crossword dismayingly marketed itself ing novels pub- ond.(Reviewsofelectronics.com as beyond books. (A temple of com-lished towards the end of December 2010). But India refused merce clearly needs ...the year. Samit Basus to bite.Turbulence and Bangalore High prices and lack of savvywriter Zac OYeahs Once were cited as reasons. People are contd on pg 2...
  2. 2. 2 JustBooks Connect - February 2011 contd from pg 1...From the Editor’s Desk idols more lasting.) Speaking of worship,2 the Bangalore Book Fair drew heavy 011 is here, and so are the pub- crowds and spiritual books were much in lishers list giving us a peek into demand-and supply. Islamic publications whose book will be out when. vied with ISKCON and all things consid-Here are some of the fiction books to ered, it was Gods day out. The 16th Delhilook forward to this year mainly Book Fair, on the other hand, got gung-hobecause of their authors: River of about childrens literature with a 100 of 260Smoke by Amitav Ghosh, publishers setting up stalls with childrensEmbassytown by China Mieville, books.Collected Short Fiction by V.S from established blogs like writerNaipaul, The Summer without Men Chandrahas Choudhurys Middle Stage to Poetry Festivals new journals like Pyrtajournal.com andby Siri Hustvedt, Last Man In Towerby Aravind Adiga, Narcopolis by Jeet Outofprintmagazine.co.in to all-out bilin-Thayil, The Widows Story by Joyce gual bonhomie on Pratilipi.in-the lit blog-Carol Oates, Point of Return by ger was in the news. So much so that lastSiddartha Deb, Ithaca by David months Jaipur Lit Fest is dedicating ses-Davidar, The Mountain Shadow by sions to literary blogging. And they areGregory David Roberts. Idea Man by going to have two seminars on HindiPaul Allen, The TCS Story And blogs.Beyond by Ramadorai and PaulTaylor, To a Mountain in Tibet by VernacularColin Thubron, Redesigning Your BLife by Porus Munshi, Hunger In ecause, yes, the other star of theIndia by Harsh Mander, The Tell Jaipur Lit Fest was the vernacular.Tale Brain by V S Ramachandran, Indian languages are intensely in the TTraining the Mind by Dalai Lama are he other bit of good news is that limelight and theres a pretty spread ofsome non-fictional works that might despite frequent death knells, poetry them at the fest including Hindi, Urdu,interest our members. survived. India now has not one, but Sanskrit, Tamil, Bangla, AsomiyaJustBooks will have these titles avail- two poetry festivals dedicated to poetry. (Assamese), Oriya, Gujarati, Malayalam,able in all its branches as soon as they The Hyderabad Literary Festival debuted Kashmiri, Punjabi, Nepali, Bhojpuri andhit the market in India. So do mark in November with close to a hundred poets Rajasthani.these titles in your reading queue and reading over three days. Organised by This is because in the past six years, thelook out for the reviews from online literary journal Muse India, the fes- festival has seen more and more indige-JustBooks Literary team. tival had the support of the government. nous writing from India, in vernacular lan- Coming to the literary happenings, There are keen hopes for it. Poetry With guages and through translations. Withlast month we had two important lit- Prakriti which takes place in Chennai publishers waking up to the potential oferary festivals of South Asia. First, it every December, continued to take poetry translated works, languages are crisscross-was "greatest literary show on earth"- into cafes, schools, book shops and cloth-our own Jaipur lit. Fest, which had the ing stores.movers and shakers of the literary Meanwhile, poetry slams proliferated-world [220 writers in total] descend- the Open Mic night at Kyra in Indiranagaring on Diggi palace for five days of lit- and Tuesdays with the Bard at Urbanerary and cultural events. Solace Cafe in Ulsoor are open to anyone New writers and books were who wants to get poetic in public. Theseunveiled; Bhasha writers shared the venues encourage openness about poetrylimelight with the known and famous and a diversity of styles. Theyre crucial tofrom the English world and interna- the growth of performance poetry, some-tional writers were the taste of the fes- thing that has so far been ignored in thetival. As soon as the curtain fell on country. Among interesting poetry booksJaipur Lit Fest, it was time for Galle, released this year were Collected Poems ofSri Lanka to welcome many of these Arun Kolatkar edited by Arvind Krishnaliterary figures and start the Galle lit- Mehrotra, Keki Daruwallas Collectederary festival. Works, and Eunice DSouzas Necklace of ing territory and readership. UR Lastly we lost one of our greatest Skulls. Younger poets also published their Ananthamurthys Bharatipura (translatedHindustani vocalists in Pandit works including Sampurna Chattarjee, CP by Susheela Punitha), which looks at preju-Bhimsen Joshi. His life and his strug- Surendran and Meena Kandasamy. Now if dice and change, was released last year asgles to attain the perfection were only it was easier to find poetry books in were new translations of three novellas byinspirational. To know more about stores. Rabindranath Tagore, and veteran Tamilhim and his life check out: Bhimsen writer Asokamitrans Manasarovar.Joshi: A Passion For Music by Abhik Literary Blogs In related news, UR Anathamurthy wasMajumdar and Bhimsen Joshi: A also appointed Tagore Professor by RBiography by Mohan Nadkarni. IGNOU and he is head of the new Tagore eading poetry-and other literature- We look forward to your comments Centre in Bangalore. One hopes to see became easier to do online with liter-and feedback at editor@just some exciting literary activity there this ary blogs of all manner, size andbooksclc.com year.  shape causing much excitement. Ranging Happy reading ! 
  3. 3. JustBooks Connect - February 2011 3Witness the Night Tiger HillsKishwar Desai Sarita MandannaHarper Collins PenguinGeetanjali Singh Chanda Reshmi Chakraborty A S fourteen-year-old girl, Durga, is the sole arita Mandannas Tiger Hills apparently survivor of the landed and well-respect- got the largest advance ever paid by ed Atwal Jat family. Thirteen family Penguin India for a debut novel which members are found poisoned and stabbed to created quite a hype around it in publishing death. Although Durga is found raped, brutal- circles and otherwise. Set in Coorg, Tiger ized and chained to a chair, as the sole survivor Hills is the story of three characters, Devi, she is the only suspect. The earlier mysterious Machu and Devanna, whose lives and loves disappearance of Durgas elder sister Sharda clash and connect in different ways. It is also has already cast a shadow over the family. the story of Coorg, a land of breathtakingSimran, a Delhi-based NGO worker believes that Durga is the beauty and unique customs told through thevictim of the crime rather than its perpetrator. She combs passage of different generations. What makes the book work isprovincial Jullundar, questioning its inhabitants to try and Mandannas vivid description of Coorg, its land and social cus-solve the mystery.  toms and the way she tells the story. Unheard Voices - Stories of Forgotten Lives The Beauty MythHarsh Mander Naomi WolfPenguin Vintage Books Aradhana Janga Pushpa Achanta U I nheard Voices is a collection of twenty n her compelling book, The Beauty Myth, true stories of misery and apathy on writer, gender rights activist and Rhodes one hand and of courage and fortitude scholar, Naomi Wolf lays bare some startling on the other. Harsh Mander started document- facts about how women are driven to an obses- ing these when he worked in the Indian sion with having an attractive and if possible, Administrative Service in the predominantly arresting physical appearance and looking pret- tribal states of Madhya Pradesh and ty. Chattisgarh. He says it as he sees it. There is The Beauty Myth is a remarkable book inneither any interpretation nor any judging. Any conclusion to where Naomi Wolf reveals many unknown truths regarding thebe drawn is left to the reader. And do not assume that it is a manner in which women are coerced into possessing and main-book for people in the social or development sector. This is a taining a stunning physique and being beautiful externally.book about the real India in the 21st century. It is far from the Quoting historical narratives, she traces the different ways inhigh rise buildings, the latest electronic gizmos, the high-end which women have been suppressed and discriminated againstcars and the never-ending rat race of the corporate world.  throughout ancient and modern times. Bazaars, Conversations And Freedom: For A Better: A Surgeons Notes on Performance Atul GawandeMarket Culture Beyond Greed And Fear PenguinRajni BakshiPenguin Manjula Sundharam SDr. Rajagopalan urgeon Atul Gawande in his book T points out that paying detailed attention his book deservedly won two Vodafone to simple things, thinking creatively to Crossword awards in 2009- one in non- solve complex problems, and willingness to fiction and another in popular category. recognize and reflect on failures can help Bazaars evoke in our minds places, stories, gos- refine and improve performance amidst sip and conversations in direct face to face unending variety of obstacles. exchanges of goods and services. The author has traveled the world in search In contrast, the free market is an abstract idea of excellence. He says most aspiring achievers strive to perform which separates exchange from other aspects of better. He reveals that there is room for improvement if there islife. Price is its only measure of value. the willingness to measure outcomes as well as the discipline toThe authors quest is triggered by the question of why struggles change. Merely grasping the concepts alone does not lead tofor economic and ecological justice often seem to fail when con- performance. It is about applying the concept at the right timefronted with the market.  with the specific resources.  For detailed reviews check out justbooksclc.com
  4. 4. 4 JustBooks Connect - February 2011Book Review Of Romance and Loss in the City detail. And sometimes compares their “The real attraction of KeepKeep The Change very different lives - not a very convinc- ing ploy but it works well enough, till we the Change is its very localNirupama Subramanian discover who Vic is. And that is a bit of a flavour even in the mention of let down. A little more psychological details like DamayanthisHarper Collins insight into why that particular persona was chosen would have been interesting diet of tamarind rice.” but leaving the deeper meanings of that choice to readers imagination might have And the move to Mumbai does force its merits. Damayanthi to rethink and modify herGeetanjali Singh Chanda The "asides" are one of the previously held notions. Her mothers most charming and parting advice to her is to be good but amusing what does being "good" really mean in a changed environment? DamayanthiT he plot is always fairly pre- wants to be good but more than that she dictable for the romance, also wants to have a good time and live chic-lit genre - girl finds life to the fullest. That, in Mumbai,and falls in love with seductive involves alcohol and sex - taboo for abut entirely un-suitable boy. "good girl". Can a woman with a tra-Many thrills and heartaches later ditional and uncool name likehe is shown up for the cad he is. Damayanthi transcend the confines Meanwhile the often intimidat- of a strict upbringing and, moreing and silent hero who has been importantly, does she want to? Aswaiting in the wings, steps up and her wardrobe changes from saristrue love is revealed. Keep The to mini-skirts do her moral stan-Change is no different and the dards also change?denouement of the plot holds no sur- Although the American tele-prises. The choice of title is not always vision serial "Sex and the City"the prerogative of the author but this is the common meetingtitle seems particularly inexplicable and ground for Damayanthi andirrelevant to the story. Sonya, she gradually real- Nirupama Subramanian transforms a izes that not only can shemundane narrative by her wicked wit, not be Sonya but also thateffortless writing style and wonderful she does not really wantimages. to be Sonya. At one point Damayanthi teases her Her awakening is toanxious mother about having to share self-acceptance and tobeds as part of the cost cutting measures the realization that thein the new job and describes her mother man she finally chooses isspluttering "like mustard seeds in hot oil". not necessarily Rahul who made herThe narrative is peppered with such local, feel attractive and wanted but CG who,domestic images that immediately res- parts of the like her, is more conservative and who isonate. She nicely captures her mothers narrative. interested in her as a person.continuing anxiety about finding a suit- Damyanthi recounts her conversations There are no immediate passionate fire-able "tam brahm" (Tamilian Brahmin) boy with various people like her mother, or works with CG but there is an ease ofand her equally adamant resistance to her boss, or the seductive Rahul but often being, a real conversation and laughter.such a match. She, however, cannot there are two simultaneous conversa- The light banter and sharing that marksentirely escape being subject to a couple tions going on. One what she actually their relationship feels much more every-of arranged meetings and is duly shown says and the other the "Little Voice", day and normal.off at social occasions but manages to which is not quite the angel over the The real attraction of Keep the Changeescape entrapment by match-making shoulder providing good counsel but a is its very local flavour even in the men-Maamis. wicked voice that articulates the sharp tion of details like Damayanthis diet of The narrative consists of a series of sup- and sarcastic responses that Damayanthi tamarind rice. The protagonist, thoughposed "letters" or diary-style entries would like to give. The humour keeps the given to rapturous flights of fancy, isaddressed to "Vic". One assumes that Vic novel bubbling and fun as well as funny. completely ironic and humorously self-or Victoria is a sort of pen-pal who lives Damayanthi notes the enormity of her aware even while she narrates her fan-abroad. But we are not told who this Vic move from Chennai to "sin city" Mumbai. tasies. Her traditional, middle classis till almost the end of the novel. She aptly says, "I think India is the only upbringing firmly grounds her and theDamyanthi "explains" various aspects of country in the world where you can get cul- practical streak of her character ensuresIndian life, such as the obsession with ture shock after traveling 100 km from wher- that she finds the right balance of what itmarriage in these epistles to Vic in some ever you are." means to be good in any circumstance. 
  5. 5. JustBooks Connect - February 2011 5Book ReviewMixed flavours and candid talesMedium Raw: A Bloody Valentineto the World of Food and thePeople Who CookAnthony BourdainBloomsburyReshmi ChakrabortyM edium Raw is meant to be a sequel to Kitchen Confidential, the book that made a star out ofAnthony Bourdain. So while he was thebad boy chef in Kitchen Confidentialspilling out the dirty secrets of the foodand beverage industry to the other side,Medium Raw is best described as mid Fifty-five thousand copies a minute-every Even if you are up to your neck withlife score settlement and several candid minute Oprahs talking about your book. I knowledge about the restaurant industryconfessions in his inimitable style. know few authors who wouldnt." in US and its top stars, which many of us Its also about food and the industry As with all his writing, Bourdain is a here are not, all that juvenile name callingthat revolves around it. Bourdain is at his man who gets personal. He talks of living does get tiresome after a while. Its truebest when describing spectacular epi- the reckless life in the Caribbean after the that his Kitchen Confidential too was acurean experiences, especially anything breakup of his first marriage, staring evil behind the scenes memoir of New Yorkbordering on the exotic and slightly sick- in the face and feeling the need that restaurants, but the reason it struck aening. something had to change. chord with global readers was its no He starts off with an amazing prologue He talks of becoming uncool after the holds barred, absolutely entertainingon eating Ortolan, a rare bird thats actu- birth of his daughter, as he takes her for description of the drama that went onally illegal to eat in France, where its dance lessons, of cunning plotting that behind the kitchen doors. The grit, gripe,found. Whether you find the experience only parents do to keep her away from grime, all of it out on display and writtenof eating the bird (served in its entirety, Ronald McDonald. The getting personal in a style that held you in and didnt letbeaks intact) gross or fascinating depends bit stretches to his contemporaries in the you go until finish.on your culinary inclinations but what food business as well and Bourdains pen Reading Medium Raw makes youmakes it worth reading is the way is suitably acidic when it comes to people wonder if Bourdain wrote this book forBourdain describes it. The details are he may have some grudging respect for the average international reader or foodphotogenic and enthralling and he shows but doesnt particularly like. industry insiders. The saving grace is thatus again why hes the master of sensual These range from Alice Waters of Chez hes as hard on himself as he is with oth-food writing. Panisse for whom Bourdain seems to ers, never taking his fame too seriously. The rest of the chapters are somewhat share a spectacular grudge to a chapter However, except for a few chapters thatrandom but what they all share is the dedicated to his Heroes and Villains from shine through (like Lust where hewriters cutting edge honesty and the food industry to food critic Alan describes his extraordinary food experi-humour, starting with Selling Out where Richman who gets a memorably titled ences across the world or Meat, a plea forhe candidly admits that he would have chapter called Alan Richman is a the original, ammonia-free hamburger)"given Oprah a back rub and a bikini wax, Douchebag. Medium Raw feels like a raw woundhad she asked me when her people called. Now heres where Bourdain lost me. often, needing a bit of dressing. 
  6. 6. 6 JustBooks Connect - February 2011 Reader’s Reader’s Contribution Voice G Venkatesh Shastra” (featuring Dev Anand and Zeenat Aman).Young book lover Ashish Victor shares Sivasankari and Ahis thoughts on JustBooks, Frazer daptation of books into movies Indumathi, the cel-Town. have almost always resulted in ebrated Tamil nov- controversies. The writer, fuelledJ elists, wrote the ustBooks is the most innovative and by his imagination, uses all his dexterity customer-friendly library in my and ingenuity to weave a plot, build locality. characters, chooses a particular style of controversial novel Im sure no narrative and finally takes the story to its Erandu Per (Twoother library logical conclusion. However, during the People) which waswould have adaptation, the cineworld known for its based on the sexualthought of get- conceitedness, ends up taking cinematic fantasies of a house-ting a touch liberties with the content, resulting in wife with an amateurscreen comput- ego clashes. photographer. Shadeser for issuing Of late, the produc- of Aparna Sensand returning ers, directors have “Paroma”? Tamilbooks. started insisting that writer Sujata has Ive been a the writer be involved time and againmember at the in the creative aspect lamented the wayFrazer Town of the movie so that his stories (Gayatri,branch since last April and I have thor- any changes in the Priya, Karaiyellamoughly enjoyed the reading experience adaptation are done Senbagapoo) werethat JustBooks has provided me. I find a with the consent of the butchered by direc-wide range of books for kids of all ages. writer. Whether the tors. AnuradhaThe books are neatly covered and the writer has the freedom Ramanan caused abook marks inserted for our use is very to voice his opinion is furore among thehelpful. purely a matter of con- orthodox TamilI would however like to see a few more jecture. In the contro- Brahmin communi-additions to the comic section. Lucky versy surrounding the ty for her storiesLuke is one such comic that I really like movie "Three Idiots", Kootu Puzhukkalto read and which is missing in the based on Chetan (Cloisteredlibrary. I do hope to see the collection in Bhagats Five Point Someone , one got Worms) and Chirai (Jail), both of whichthe near future; lest my mom continues the impression that Chetan was almost were adapted into successful movies.to grumble each time I buy them from reduced to a pariah. Luckily for him, he Then there are the classic movies basedbook stores! is a columnist in the Times of India and on the story ideas from Rabindranath On that cheerful note I wish JustBooks so he used that clout to his advantage. Tagore (Kabuliwallah, Choker Bali),good luck and hope to see many more The controversy also resulted in a surge Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (Devdas,exciting additions to their shelves! in the sales of Five Point Someone. Parineeta), Premchand (Godan, Biraj Despite the star quotient, the movie One Bahu). Maverick film maker Vishal Ashish Victor, Age 11  Night @ The Call Centre (based on Bharadwaj made a wonderful movie Chetans second novel) tanked at the box called The Blue Umbrella based on office. Ruskin Bonds story. Amrita Pritams Sometimes when the movie becomes a Kadambari starring Shabana Azmi was stupendous success, the writer feels another classic. The 70s Bollywood short changed with the compensation superhit "Do Raste" starring Rajesh awarded to him. R K Narayan was not Khanna and Mumtaz was based on only furious about the cinematic liberties Chandrakant Kakodkars Marathi novel taken with his novel The Guide (the Neelambari. English version of the movie had some There have been court cases involving steamy bedroom scenes involving writers and producers where the latter Waheeda Rehman and Dev Anand; this have denied the writers credit for the sto- was thanks to the involvement of the cel- ryline or suitable compensation. Writers ebrated writer Pearl S Buck who wrote are known to be fastidious and eccentric. the screenplay for the English version). So, this also exacerbates the issue. But, Narayan also fumed at the paltry G Venkatesh lives in HAL stage III and sums the debonair Dev Anand gave him. works for a private firm in Indira J. Jayalalithas novel Uravin Kaidhigal Nagar. He is a voracious reader and an (The Prisoners of Relationship), seri- amateur writer. Essentially a alised in the Tamil magazine Kalki in the Mumbaikar, he has shifted to 80s, seemed to have taken inspiration Bangalore a year ago. Music, Gardening from the 1975 Bollywood movie “Prem and Reading are his hobbies. 
  7. 7. JustBooks Connect - February 2011 7 1. This writer left instruc- 4. Who is not a director of the DSC Jaipur tions not to publish his Literature Festival: autobiography until 100 William Dalrymple years after his death: Namita Gokhale Mark Twain David Davidar Sidney Sheldon William Wordsworth 5. To The Point is an autobiogra- phy of:2. Keshav Shankar Pillai founded Hanse Cronjewhich publishing house: Herschelle GibbsKaradi Tales Jacques KallisKathaChildrens Book Trust3. India: A Portrait is the latest book from:Patrick FrenchRamachandra GuhaJawahar Lal Nehru French 4.David Davidar 5. Herschelle Gibbs 1. Mark Twain 2. Childrens Book Trust 3. Patrick JUSTBOOKS J U S T B O O K S E V E N T S Childrens workshop at Nerul, Navi TOP 5 Mumbai I llustrator of Tinkle magazines Butterfingers and Defective Detectives,tall and talented, Abhijeet Kini was the guest at the very first childrens workshop conducted by JustBooks Nerul,N EW A RRIVALS Navi Mumbai on January 15th.1. The Lost Hero by Rick Abhijeet shared his experience ofRiordan having to illustrate the Butterfingers2. Way to Go by Upamanyu series for Tinkle magazine. He hadChatterjee initially visualized the character of3. Highway On My Plate by Kiran in the comic series as a girl. ItRocky Singh, Mayur Sharma was only when the editor of the mag-4. Women & The Weight Loss azine pointed out that the characterTamasha by Rujuta Diwekar was not a girl, did the illustrator5. Unbound: Indian Women @ remove the two ponytails of KiranWork by Geeta Aravamudan and turned him into a boy. Children were encouraged to drawR ECOMMENDED their interpretation of happy faces on1. The Imperfectionists by the whiteboard. Since it was a comicTom Rachman creation workshop, kids were asked2. The Point of Return by to choose from funny super heroes or school as their theme. TheSiddhartha Deb school theme was chosen by a majority of the kids and some of3. White Noise by Don Delillo them shared their funny classroom experiences. A particular story4. Bazaars, Conversations & was chosen among them to be converted into a comic. It was theFreedom by Rajni Bakshi story of a girl who aimed a5. The Edge of Reason by Anil paper ball at her schoolAnanthaswamy teacher in the classroom. The teacher ended up yelling at the kid who wasR ENTALS seated on the first bench.1. And Thereby Abhijeet made the session aHangs A Tale by lively, interactive one.Jeffery Archer Laughter ruled in the room2. 2 States: The Story as children gleefully dis-Of My Marriage by cussed all the yucky storyChetan Bhagat ideas for comics-sewage,3. Women & The potty and smelly socks. Resisting the lure of the music played in theWeight Loss Tamasha by Rujuta next room and disturbance created by pigeons flying overheadDiwekar threatening to drop their missiles on their notepads, the participants4. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown successfully completed their task -a One page comic. 5. The Confession: A Novel by John Grisham
  8. 8. 8 JustBooks Connect - February 2011Musings They move in mysterious waysAnindita Sengupta S o the question of what constitutes offence is an important one. Is criti- cism offensive? Is bad language offen- sive? What about when the bad lan- guage is utterly realistic, the way peo-T he fracas over Rohinton Mistrys ple would actually speak? Booker-nominated Such A Long Secondly, one must ask whether a Journey caused great upset in the book can be worth studying even if itliterary world. As many will know by causes offence to some party. Even if anow, the book was part of the SYBA syl- book contains controversial opinions orlabus for Mumbai University students. morals, should young people not beAditya Thackeray, who is the youngest taught to engage with these issues inde-and latest member of the Shiv Sena, pendently? Should they not be encour-declared that the book was unaccept- aged to debate and form their ownable as course material because it con- opinions? It is the job of literature class-tains offensive criticism of the Shiv rooms to teach people to think about aSena. Copies of the book were burned at book.college gates. The Vice-Chancellor of If there were concerns about theMumbai University dropped the book political opinions expressed in Such Aalmost overnight. Political leaders were Long Journey these could have beenquick to jump onto the finger-wagging encountered in the classroom, dis-bandwagon and Chief Minister of cussed and debated. This would haveMaharashtra Ashok Chavan called the it must be read, studied and examined. been in the spirit of freedom and honesty.book "objectionable". Need I mention that Such A Long Journey definitely deserves What has happened instead is politicalhe had not read the book, only select bits this sort of attention. To not allow this is a bullying, rich kid tantrums and thought-of it? denial of the books value. less censorship. Set in Mumbai in the early seventies,the novel revolves around Gustad Noble, C ivil society has protested strongly to the book bring dropped from syl- labus. In a thoughtful response, Mistry Thirdly, what are the procedures of response when someone protests againsta Parsi bank clerk and his daily grind, his a book as offensive? Who formulatesneighbours and neighbourhood. points out that it is sad that the university these? Is it sufficient for bureaucrats or Published in 1991, it won the Governor has upheld such censorship. We know government officials to be making choic-Generals Award, the Commonwealth that right-wing parties ride on such es about the artistic development of ourWriters Prize for Best Book, and was hooplah but what is troubling is that youth? How are they trained or equippedshortlisted for the Booker Prize and for higher education facilities seem to lack to make decisions on finer points aboutthe Trillium Award. It has been translated any procedural integrity. art, ethics and the points where theyinto several languages. It is easy for a book to give offence. In a intersect? F The book is set against the political country as huge and-that cliché again- ather Frazier, principal of St Xaviersbackdrop of the time and includes refer- diverse as ours, throw a stone and youll College where Thackeray studies,ences to the Shiv Sena and Bal Thackeray. hit somebodys raw nerve. Better still, wrote a strong response critiquing thisSince the speech of some characters is string a sentence. event. The college itself is one thatpeppered with expletives, these Chances are youll be stepping on some- encourages a great deal of freedom ofinevitably find their way into such refer- ones religious, linguistic, economic, gen- thought. But what is the point of individ-ences. der or caste sensitivities. Political parties ual institutions doing their best to raise Thackerays protest hangs itself on the have added themselves to the list of eas- levels when the authorities are intent onabusive language argument since in our ily offendables. dumbing things down?astoundingly prudish society we react to It is a wonder that writers end up writ- None of this is clear. Because the gov-bad language with more virulence than ing anything at all, let alone anything ernment of India, like God, moves in mys-we react to people dying of hunger. The honest, brave or valuable. terious ways. fact is that people of many communitiesdo use expletives while talking. Take alook at many Indian languages. Choiceabuses are part of daily slang. However,for a writer to make this part of his char-acters language is objectionable.Because, of course, it would be preferableto have them use only the QueensEnglish, always polite, always tasteful,never offensive. Never mind realism. Thackaray helpfully points out that hehas not asked for the book to be banned,merely to be removed from syllabus. Thismeans nothing. To do a good book justice,
  9. 9. JustBooks Connect - February 2011 9Book ReviewHidden treasures of Indian art architects experimenting with two sepa- ments is often dry and pedantic. WhilePattadakkal: Monumental rate styles of temple building, namely the author brings in monuments from the Nagara and the Dravida. As far as other related sights into his discussionLegacy the Dravida style is concerned, one finds and points out to several interesting fea- early examples of this kind of tower in tures, the cross referencing is done inad-George Michell the monoliths of the Pallavas in equately for the lay reader. A specialistOxford India Mahabalipuram. Thus a Pallava influ- no doubt can easily fill in the gaps.Dr. Rajeshwari Ghose ence can be deduced on the Chalukyan temples. However, it is in Chalukya ter- ritory that the first structural temple is F urthermore, he almost ignores any discussion on sculptural styles. He refers in fair details to the iconographic built in the Dravida style. In that sense programming of each temple. The the engineering part of making a Chalukyan sculptures are very differentT his monograph on the Early Dravida temple, calculating load bearing from the Pallava sculptures. They are Chalukyan temples of Pattadakkal walls etc could well have been a more rounded, more dynamic, more has been authored by George Chalukyan contribution. ornamented and much more sensuousMichell, who did his doctoral disserta-tion on the Development of Early T he author raises this interesting point and points out to occasional idiosyn- crasies where one feature from one style than the Pallava sculptures which are simple, elegant, restrainedly ornamented and somehow somber and distant.Chalukya Art. One mustcommend the author, for an It is very rarely in the historyexcellent historical introduc- of Indian art that one gets thetion which he keeps short, name of the architect or thesimple and clear, while pack- sculptor. In this rare monu-ing it with useful and inter- ment several sculptors tooesting information. have engraved their names. Having placed the monu- Michell also analyses thements of Pattadakkal in their Kirtivarma inscription, whichgeographical and historical provides the clues to thecontext, the author describes chronology of the temples andthe relationship between the while studying the list of royalChalukyas and their neigh- donors, one comes across thebours to the east and the names of several queens andnorth viz. the Pallavas and ladies of the court. He discuss-the rulers of the Deccan. es in fair details ten temples The Early Chalukyas were from Pattadakkal, which is noinfluenced by the art of the mean achievement consideringPallavas and they in turn that the booklet is a mere nine-influenced the art of the ty five pages including theRashtrakutas, whilst borrow- glossary and the select bibliog-ing from the earlier pre- raphy.Rashtrakuta artists from the Deccan.While political relations with the is superimposed on the other leading to some syncretistic features. Besides such M ichell draws much of his material from his disser- tation. This probably accounts for thePallavas were confrontational and thereseems to have been a period of thirteen hybrids, there is a conscious mixture of fact that it is hard to classify this slimyears (642-55) in which the Pallavas, not Nagara and Dravida features in the booklet either as an academic work ononly killed the reigning monarch but Papanatha temple. the Early art history of the Chalukyas oralso occupied their then capital Vatapi The author deals with the monuments a Guide Book for the lay traveler. While(modern Badami), this ironically acceler- of Pattadakkal in the order in which a the portable size, the light weight of theated the flow of cultural and aesthetic traveler visiting the site will see them. book, the maps of the sites and diagramsstimuli between the two regions. Hence Nagara and Dravida style tem- of temples make it an ideal guide book,T hus it is interesting to see the influ- ples, which are often built next to each the writing style in places is too dry and ences of the Kailashanatha temple at other, are discussed in the order in academic and presumes that the readerKanchipuram, a Pallava structure of the which they can now be approached and has considerable knowledge of the sub-early 8th century on the Chalukyan not with an eye to stylistic categoriza- ject. Hence, the readership at whom thisVirupaksha temple at Pattadakkal, of a tion. This makes it difficult to digest the is aimed seems a little ambivalent. Thisslightly later date, which in turn provid- variations in the theme. In order to is particularly regrettable since there is aed the model for the gigantic monolith at understand clearly the features of the paucity of good guide books, not only onEllora the Cave 16, also called the Nagara and Dravida styles and identify the Pattadakkal temples but on EarlyKailashanatha, initiated by the the monuments and place them under Chalukyan art in general, written withRashtrakuta King Krishna I (756-773). one or the other category the reader is lay readership in mind. In spite of this Both Aihole and Pattadakkal are dis- obliged to go back and forth flicking the minor criticism it is well worth takingtinctive sites in as much as we find the pages. The style of describing the monu- this book on a trip to Pattadakkal. 
  10. 10. 10 JustBooks Connect - February 2011Cricket mania Bowled over at the stadium they are trying to sell were simplySubhash Bhushan amazing. It varied from groundnut sellers, tea shops, cigarette ven- dors, to Indian flags, head gear, hooters, t-shirts, to face painters,W atching live cricket in India canblack-ticket sellers! Everybody be easy and difficult. Easy, seemed to have landed up at the because you always have venue at 6 am in the morningoptions and you will most definitely sensing the opportunity to make akeep getting opportu-nities to watch a livegame and difficult,because you have tobrave the crowd andelements to actuallywatch it. My first experiencewas relatively "easier"because I managed tobuy tickets on anonline portal. Mybelief that I had cir-cumvented the most even new-comers like Vijay and Ojhadifficult part simply turn toward the stands (mind you,evaporated when I turn, not walk), people sitting in thelanded up at the stadi- front rows just erupt. People wave,um on D-Day morn- jump and cry out names, just to geting. noticed. But the congregation can be Adventure starts equally punishing. Ricky Pontingwith parking your received a huge boo from the crowdvehicle. An army of Venue: 2nd Test Match – Ind vs. Aus - 9th as soon as he walked in. Crowds arepolicemen and traffic Oct, 2010 – Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore quite merciless when it comes to put-cops around the stadi- ting cricketers in their place.um remind you of a riot-hit area. Afteryou have somehow "squeezed" your killing in profit. T he experience was not like watch- ing a match on TV, where you are peppered with replays, statistics andvehicle in a small gap-in a ground of At the entry gate you have to dealtwo football stadiums size-you have to with intense security. You are frisked as lively commentary. If you take your eyeswalk a mile to reach the entry gates. "thoroughly" as possible before you are off the field for a moment, you will When I did reach the entrance, I was put through two different scanners. You probably miss a catch or a fall of a wick-surprised to see two different queues; are not allowed to carry liquids into the et permanently. Partly because the bigOne to get physical tickets against my venue and ladies handbags are literally screen replays the moment only onceonline booking and other for actual stripped bare —to their embarrassment but mostly because everybody sitting inentry. Entry queue was running as far — before they are let in. front of you jump to their feet, shouting Udown the road as one could see. After nlike theaters or plays where your their mouths off. Out there in the mid-spending some moments gawking at the seat numbers are allocated upfront, dle, its simply difficult to make out whomilling crowds, I sulkily joined a queue. a cricket stadium is open for all. Seats is who. You can only identify players by There were all kinds of people includ- with best views tend to be taken up by their walking or throwing styles. Evening children below three years and people entering first. We had to contend then, you end up wondering who a cou-Burqa-clad women, waiting, jostling, with a seat which had a good central ple of players are.trampling, pushing and pulling to get in. pitch view, but with pillars on either Watching a cricket match is not just Everyone there was united by cricket. side blocking side boundary views. Not about entertainment or passion or evenPassion and patriotism ran through the that you would miss the view when time-pass. Its an experience, which cancrowd like a wave. When I was waiting crowd generally give you a clear picture be felt only by being in the middle offor my turn, a silent man walking past on whats happening on the field. Their thousands of strangers, chanting theus to the back of the queue, suddenly boos, aaahs and groans generally indi- same tune, performing Mexican wavesshouted "Bolo Bharat Matha Ki". And cates what the result was. and going crazy on 11 people standingthe whole queue erupted in unison, The crowds reaction to cricketers around in a field.shouting "Jai". themselves was just unbelievable. Every As I left the stadium, I felt been there, The vendors at the venue and items time Sehwag or Tendulkar or Bhajji or done that and will do it again! 
  11. 11. JustBooks Connect - February 2011 11 Just KidsThe Invention Of Hugo Hugos father is making good process the station and works to fix it. Using one with the machine and has just about fin- of his fathers notebooks and with someCabret ished with it, when a terrible accident clockwork which he steals from a toyBrian Selznick occurs and the museum is set ablaze in a shop, Hugo manages to get started on fire which started mysteriously in the the machine. However, things go awryAge group: 11-15 yrs night. Hugo is taken in by the stations when the toy shopkeeper finally catchesPages: 533 timekeeper, who is his uncle. Life isnt Hugo and confiscates the notebook, set-Scholastic pleasant in the timekeepers quarters; ting the tone for a rather exciting adven- Hugo is forced by his uncle to steal ture involving the shopkeepers daugh- things to make a living and his uncle ter, the vile station-master and moreJayanthi Harsha dumps the job of caring for the stations peculiarly, the moon itself. clocks on him as he vanishes in the This book was published in March 2007 and is one of a new generation books. With 284 pictures between its 533T he first ever robot was produced pages, the story depends on the use of sometime in 1928. To that effect, pictures, as well as the use of words. people have always believed This is the first novel to win therobots to be a modern-day feature and Caldecott medal (given for illustrations).not of the old times. Actually, this is The author, Brian Selznick has illus-completely wrong - the history of trated several other books for children,Robotics goes back to as far as the 17th such as Frindle by Andrew Clements,century. The Doll People by Ann Martin and has The robots during those times were written another book for children titledcomposed of clockwork animations. The Boy of a Thousand Faces. But, TheWhen thinking of this term, clockwork Invention of Hugo Cabret has been thetoys, such as wind-up mice and clocks book in which he put the most time andcome to mind. Indeed, these things effort.made up the majority of medieval robot- There are some technical uncertaintiesics. But there were complete machines over the working of the clockworktoo, which could do various tasks, such machine that can count as minor defectas playing chess and serving tea. These in this book. Otherwise, this is a brilliantmachines, in fact were much more specimen of the latest type of books,impressive than our modern-day which incorporate both words and pic-machines, which rely on computer tech- tures to convey meanings to the reader.nology. However, they were generally morning and returns late in the night, The story is also easy to understand andless appreciated in that era; several were heavily drunk. After about a month of will become a favorite with young chil-dumped into dark storage rooms or just this, his uncle does not return at all and dren and teenagers alike. The pictures inthrown away into garbage. This forms Hugo is left on his own. the novel are in graphite colours, i.e.the basis of the story, when a clockmak- Hugo decides to run away, and as he black and white, much more realisticer - the storys protagonist, Hugos passes the burnt down museum, he dis- than the ordinary pictures one findsfather finds one such machine in a covers the machine which his dad was inside other novels, making it a realmuseum attic and decides to fix it up trying so hard to fix. Hugo then makes a read for youngsters looking for aand find what it does. resolution and decides to return back to change.  JustBooks Picks for Young Readers Dinaben and the Lions of Gir by Meera Sister, Sister, Why dont things fall Up? Letters From Father Christmas by Sriram By Roopa Pai J.R.R.Tolkien Theres a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Phanis Funny Chappals by Sridala The Fang of Summoning by Giti Seuss Swamy Chandra Gadagada Gudugudu by Jeeva Rusty The Boy From The Hills by Singing for Mrs.Pettigrew by Micheal Raghunath Ruskin Bond Morpurgo
  12. 12. 12 JustBooks Connect - February 2011Author Profile AMITAV GHOSH Harvard University since 2005. different dialects are interesting LocationsAnindita Sengupta He has also been a Fellow at the and the ship pidgin he has used Centre for Studies in Social in Sea of Poppies has been Whitefield Sciences, Calcutta. He divides widely praised.W 42053027, 32999406 hen one talks about his time between Kolkata, Goa But the real delight in Ghoshs JP Nagar English writing in books lies not in the 42351761 India, there are few language but in fol- Bellandurnames that come up as often as lowing him in 25740710, 42118813Amitav Ghosh. A rarity in the through the doors to Sarjapur Roadliterary world, Ghosh is loved new worlds. As a 42129279by critics and readers. Hes social anthropolo- Kalyan nagarbeen nominated for the Booker gist, his understand- 42084394, 9986072204Prize--and his books are best- ing of how large HSR Layoutsellers. Even people who dont changes and move- 22587430, 7259974251read other serious fiction have ments affect cul- Frazer Townusually read at least one book tures-but also indi- 41644449of his, The Shadow Lines per- vidual people-is Indira Nagarhaps, or his phenomenon Sea impressive and his 65831547, 42044157of Poppies. characters often Koramangala Born in Kolkata in 1956, grapple with issues 40982460Ghosh was educated at The of identity, memory Jayanagar 5th BlockDoon School, St Stephens and destiny as they 9740894014, 42068676College, Delhi and St Edmund are besieged by JP Nagar-DollarsHall, Oxford. forces beyond their Colony Ghosh tasted success early control such as war, 42003087in his career. His first book The and New York where he lives trade or exile. His story-telling is RMV II StageCircle of Reason (1986) won the with his wife, Deborah Baker, largely engaging, even if 23410800Prix Medicis Etranger, one of who is a writer and senior edi- weighed down by the infusion MalleshwaramFrances top literary awards. tor. They have two children. of extra facts in places. 41280649The Shadow Lines (1990) won As a person, Ghosh is a pleas- Ghosh seems less interested in Vijaya Bank Layoutthe Sahitya Akademi Award & ing blend of sophistication and the interior monologues of his 41645690the Ananda Puraskar. Later nov- humility. He is friendly with characters and more in what Vijaynagarels like The Calcutta fans and other writers, much happens to them, and around 42117539Chromosome (1995), The Glass loved in the circuit, and at par- them. They often lack intensity Rajarajeshwari NagarPalace (2000) and The Hungry ties comes across as if he really or emotional depth and, as a 9535854732Tide (2004) have won awards cares about peoples opinions. result, some of his books have a Nerul Mumbaiincluding the Arthur C. Clarke His famed research skills may faintly unsatisfying ring to 02227729788,Award and the Hutch have much to do with this abili- them. Still, for conjuring grand 09004819059Crossword Book Prize. In 2007 ty to listen, to be interested. He locations, sagas of historical DombivliAmitav Ghosh was awarded the is carefully understated about importance, political landscapes 02516505544Grinzane Cavour Prize in Turin, his success, turning up in a spanning decades-there are few PuneItaly. modest kurta to collect two writers who can better him. His 02025896016 It was perhaps expected that awards at a function (The early novels have an emotional HyderabadSea of Poppies would be short- Goldenquill Awards, 2009). edge to them that may have 04030560660listed for the 2008 Man Booker Amitabh Ghoshs prose style been dulled somewhat with allPrize. The book won a number can be a bit too simple, some- the factual layering in his laterof Indian awards including the what lacking in poetic beauty. ones. Things happen quickly inCrossword Book Prize and the Unlike predecessors like RK his characters lives. Their per- ForGoldenquill Award. His next Narayan, he believes in using sonal histories are overtaken bybook River of Smoke is expect- Indian words and culturally larger ones and the tension franchiseed later this year. specific terms in his books. He between these two factors is In 1999, Ghosh joined the fac- often supplies the English expla- interestingly played out. Along inquiriesulty at Queens College, CityUniversity of New York as nation alongside which is understandable because he also the way, Ghosh conjures up the worlds around them in exquisite contact:Distinguished Professor inComparative Literature and he wants it to be accessible. But this has the effect of seeming repeti- detail. It is this detail that is often held up as the most strik- manager@has been a visiting professor at tive. Still, his experiments with ing quality of his work.  justbooks Advertise with us, contact (080)-6001-5285 or editor@justbooksclc.com clc.com