HT Picks: The Most Interesting Books of the Week

Published on Dec 13, 2019 06:30 AM IST

This week’s interesting reads includes the memoir of a popular stand-up comic, another on exploring Kabul, and one that looks at the policies the Indian economy needs to get back on track

This week’s reading list includes two very different memoirs and a book that looks at policymaking that could revive the Indian economy(HT Team)
This week’s reading list includes two very different memoirs and a book that looks at policymaking that could revive the Indian economy(HT Team)
Hindustan Times | ByHT Team


244pp, ₹499; Westland
244pp, ₹499; Westland

When an award-winning comedian performs at gunpoint in South Africa and lives to tell the tale, you know its going to be an interesting one. Pranks both childish and reckless, nights of wild partying, a career repeatedly built and torn down, a roller-coaster love life, and risks you and I wouldn’t dare to take: Papa CJ is able to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. And then destroy it. Only to rise again like a phoenix.
As Papa CJ lays bare his life, from the streets of Calcutta to the University of Oxford and stages across the world, you will bask in nostalgia, laugh you guts out, feel your heart ache, and find a new lens with which to look at your own life. A lens that allows you, like Papa CJ, to always see the positive. And of course, the funny. Seize it. Enjoy it!*


239pp, ₹599; Penguin
239pp, ₹599; Penguin

When Taran N Khan first arrived in Kabul in the spring of 2006 – five years after the Taliban government was overthrown – she found a city both familiar and unknown. Falling in with poets, archaeologists and film makers, she began to explore the city and, over the course of several returns, discovered a Kabul quite different from the one she had expected.
Shadow City is an account of these expeditions, a personal and meditative portrait of a city we know primarily in terms of conflict. With Khan as our guide, we move from the glitter of wedding halls to the imperilled beauty of a Buddhist monastery, slip inside a beauty salon and wander through book markets. But as these walks take us deeper into the city, it becomes clear that to talk of Kabul’s various wars in the past tense is a mistake.
Part reportage and part reflection, Shadow City is an elegiac prose map of Kabuls’ hidden spaces – and the cities that we carry within us.*


425pp, ₹699; Penguin
425pp, ₹699; Penguin

As a $3-trillion economy, India is on her way to becoming an economic superpower. Between 1991 and 2011, the period of our best growth, there was also a substantial decline in the number of people below the poverty line. Since 2011, however, there has been a marked retreat in the high growth performance of the previous two decades.

What happened to the promise? Where have we faltered? How do we change course? How do we overcome the ever-present dangers of the middle-income trap, and get rich before we grow old? And one question above all else: What do we need to do to make our tryst with destiny?

As professional economists as well as former civil servants, Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah have spent most of their lives thinking about and working on these questions. The result: In Service of the Republic, a meticulously researched work that stands at the intersection of economics, political philosophy and public administration. This highly readable book lays out the art and the science of the policymaking that we need, from the high ideas to the gritty practicalities that go into building the Republic.*

*All copy from book flap.

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