Woman reads a book. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Everybody’s curling up with a book. Which one is the best for you?
If you like them slow and wise
The Dalai Lama’s Cat - A Novel
David Michie’s heartwarming novel describes itself as a “not so much fly-on-the-wall as cat-on-the-sill” tale of a kitten rescued from the slums of New Delhi who finds herself in a beautiful sanctuary with sweeping views of the snow-capped Himalayas. As the Dalai Lama’s cat, she meets Hollywood stars, Buddhist masters, Ivy League professors, famous philanthropists, and everyone else who comes visiting His Holiness. Each encounter brings fresh insight into finding happiness and meaning in our busy lives. Curl up and purr with delight.
If you like epic stories of love, art and war
The Blind Man’s Garden
Nadeem Aslam’s novel is set in the months after 9/11. Western armies have invaded Afghanistan. Jeo and his foster brother Mikal have left Pakistan to help care for wounded Afghans. But within hours of crossing the border they’re separated. Emerging from the carnage, Mikal begins his search for Jeo. But all he wants to do is return home to the woman he loves and who loves him – Jeo’s wife. Aslam’s fans love his symbolism, imagery and complex characters. Perhaps you will too.
If you’re not done discussing The White Tiger and Slumdog Millionaire
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
At first, Mohsin Hamid’s book seems like a self-help book. Twelve simple rules guide you from poverty to a mansion, bullet-proof car and bodyguards. But this is no how-to guide. It’s the tale of a poor boy’s rags to riches tale that rides on the back of the success story of the subcontinent. It’s set in Pakistan, but the tale will hit home in Mumbai and Delhi too. Don’t take Hamid’s rules too seriously. Or we’re all doomed.
If you like a novel with lots of masala
Mothers Lovers & Other Strangers
Bhaichand Patel’s thriller dresses up a whodunit with Bollywood’s glitz and glamour. Ravi has a dark past, but in Mumbai, he can leave it all behind for a new life – a home in Pali Hill, a socialite fiancée and success as a song composer. Or can he? When a body is found on the railway tracks, Ravi’s charmed existence is threatened by police enquiries that probe into his past. Zip right through it. Mumbai has no patience with laggards.
If you want something to ruminate over, all summer
Critics love Jonathan Franzen. Therefore snotty literary types like him too. So you’ll see a lot of local “thinking types” pushing their geek-chic glasses further up their noses as they get ready to read his collection of essays and speeches. In Farther Away, Franzen recounts his violent encounter with bird poachers in Cyprus, examines his mixed feelings about the suicide of his friend and rival David Foster Wallace and offers a moving and witty take on how technology has changed the way people express their love.
If you think Dilliwallas are crazy, but love them anyway
Those Pricey Thakur Girls
Anuja Chauhan’s witty yarn is set in a bungalow on Hailey Road in the ’80s, where Justice Laxmi Narayan Thakur and his wife Mamta live with their five daughters: the flirty, married Anjini; slightly selfish Binodini; wild child Chandrakanta; quietly fiery Debjani; and a-little-too-popular Eshwari. Yes they are alphabetically named. There’s a lesson here, a tale of a father learning to let go, and of a Delhi that once was. And woven though it all, a sparkling rom com that Chauhan does so well.
If you’re all for simple stories with easy-to-digest messages
Manuscript Found in Accra
Paulo Coelho’s at it again. After lying undiscovered for over 700 years, a manuscript holding the answers to a city’s final questions is unearthed from a cave in Cairo. The manuscript is a transcript of a man’s extraordinary insights on courage, solitude, loyalty and loss gathered on the eve of the invasion of Accra. Like most Coelho works, you’ll find something you can use even in summer 2013.
Steamy summer reading? How about a bunch of racy Confessions?
I had been paid.
I had been paid for sex.
I had been paid well for sex...
As Vikram Mathur recounts his journey from maths tutor to society gigolo in Confessions Of A Private Tutor, you’ll be amazed at how many other stories lie hidden in plain view in India. Enter Rupa’s Confessions series (Confessions of a Call Centre Worker is out in May and Confessions of a Page 3 Reporter in June), frank and fiercely honest stories about love, sex, money, deception and power. “Everyone knows – or knows of – someone who is a journalist or a tutor or a hotel manager or works at a call centre or parlour. But we never quite know exactly what their lives are like,” says Pradipta Sarkar, commissioning editor at Rupa. “We wanted to publish the stories of these people – and we wanted them told as they are lived.”
Kris Yonzone’s insight into call-centre life is rife with tales of monster workloads, rotten food and what happens between colleagues on the break-time couches. “Most of what is in this book actually happened – to me, to my friends,” Yonzone says. Megha Malhotra, whose job landed her free concerts and facetime with Bollywood stars, talks of the inevitable compromise Page 3 journalists make. “The kind of stuff that happens in this book is all very real!” she says. “But the steamy stuff is better experienced than written about.”
From HT Brunch, April 14
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