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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Thought-provoking books this weekend

IANS  New Delhi, May 13, 2011
First Published: 06:44 IST(13/5/2011) | Last Updated: 06:44 IST(13/5/2011)
An account of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's China visit, a take on nuclear diplomacy, an astonishing tale of 12 murders in a day and spiritual truths in the form of comic strips... a serious book pile exercises the intellect this week.

1. Tagore and China; Written by Tan Chung, Amiya Dev, Wang Bangwei and Wei Liming; Published by Sage Publication; Priced at Rs.999

The book is the first full account in English of Rabindranath Tagore's visit to China and its civilisational import. Perhaps for the first time, exhaustive material related to the visit has been collected.

The book charts Tagore's "grand visit" in 1924 undertaken in response to China's "Tagore fever" and the series of talks he delivered there, their antecedents as well as impact. Also discussed is the foundation of Cheena-Bhavana at Visva-Bharati, and thereby of Chinese studies in India and Tan Yun-Shan's lifelong dedication to it. The book unearths new material from Chinese sources to confirm the devotion of Tagore's interpreter, poet Xu Zhimo, to him and Tagore's affection for Xu Zhimo.

2. The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times; Written by Mohamed ElBaradei; Published by Bloomsbury/Penguin Books; Priced at Rs.550

It is a story of human imperfection, of modern society struggling to come to grips with the multiple dimensions of human insecurity.

When, in 1997, the International Atomic Energy Agency unanimously elected Mohamed ElBaradei as its next director-general, few observers could have forecast the dramatic role he would play over the next 12 years. Certainly, the stage on to which ElBaradei stepped -- featuring Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Kim Jong-Il's North Korea, Muammar Gaddafi's Libya, and the Islamic Republic of Iran -- gave him ample opportunity for high-stakes and high-profile decision-making.

This is a personal account from the eye of the leader of Egypt's opposition in the nuclear storm -- of what really happened then and what is at stake now; revealing what happened behind the scenes in the run-up to the Iraq war and other high-tension international conflicts.

3. Too Many Murders; Written by Colleen McCullough; Published by Harper-Collins, Priced at Rs.299

The year is 1967 and the world teeters on the brink of a nuclear holocaust as the cold war goes relentlessly on. In the little city of Holloman, Connecticut, chief of detective Carmine Delmonico walks into the prestigious Chubb University halls to be greeted by a limp corpse ensnared in a bear trap. And this is just the beginning. 12 murders have taken place in a day. Queering the pitch is a mysterious spy Ulysses. The murders and the espionage may be linked.

4. Dilliz Boyz; Written by A.P.S. Malhotra; Published by Niyogi Books; Priced at Rs.495

The novel is the story of Angad Khanna, a teenage, middle-class boy from a family of Hindus and Sikhs who was madly in love with Delhi -- the only city he knew as home or homeland.

He was discovering the little joys that growing up brings along -- of the first love, the surreptitious initiation into sex, the first drink in the company of a childhood friend, when disaster struck.

It was the Orwellian year, 1984, also Angad's sixteenth year. It was time to learn new lessons, of hate and bloodletting, of compassion and bravery, of despair and death, of hope and optimism.

Living as a refugee for 14 turbulent days in his own city, he found that luck and time were on his side. The banishment ended and he returned home, unlike his father Iqbal, who as a 16-year-old fled his home in Rawalpindi, whom the diktats of destiny decreed to seek a new home and homeland.

5. 40 Sufi Comics: Road to Enlightenment; Written and Published by Ali and Arif Vakil of Vakil Housing Pvt Ltd; Priced at Rs.256

The book is an interesting collection of short comic strips that illustrates the eternal spiritual truths in the teachings of Islam. The comics are also accompanied by relevant verses from the Holy Quran and traditions from the Prophet and the Ahlul Bayt.

The book gives easy and relevant reasoning to questions like where is God's treasure? How far is heaven? Can I see God? and many more. Interesting stories are put together to reveal thought-provoking and soul-searching facts. The writers' inspiration for the book came from his Madrassa teachers who narrated beautiful stories from history and sacred traditions in an engaging manner.


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