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Nov 13, 2019-Wednesday



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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week

The stories behind the yogic postures, a secret Indian operation during the 1971 war, and a thoughtful book of essays on our list of good reads this week

books Updated: Jul 12, 2019 19:40 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
Yoga, secret operations and essays on art and culture feature on HT’s reading recommendations this week.
Yoga, secret operations and essays on art and culture feature on HT’s reading recommendations this week.(HT Team)


326pp, Rs 499; HarperCollins
326pp, Rs 499; HarperCollins

The popular names of many yogic asanas – from Virbhadra-asana and Hanuman-asana to Matsyaendra-asana, Kurma-asana and Ananta-asana – are based on characters and personages from Indian mythology. Who were these mythological characters, what were their stories and how are they connected to yogic postures?

Devdutt Pattanaik’s latest book, Yoga Mythology (co-written with international yoga practitioner Matthew Rulli) retells the fascinating tales from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain lore that lie behind the yogic asanas the world knows so well. In the process of recounting the stories behind 64 key yoga asanas, Devdutt draws attention to an Indic worldview based on the concepts of eternity, rebirth , liberation and empathy that has nurtured yoga for thousands of years.*


272pp, Rs 499; HarperCollins
272pp, Rs 499; HarperCollins

1971. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in East Pakistan has just won an electoral mandate to become the prime minister of Pakistan. Accustomed to treating the eastern wing of the country as a colony, the ruling disposition in West Pakistan is not pleased, and launches a genocide against the residents of East Pakistan, flooding India with lakhs of refugees. With the violence in East Pakistan reaching a crescendo, the Indian government is faced with a difficult option: remain a mute spectator to the savagery on its eastern borders, or take action and go to war against its western neighbour.

Thus was born Naval Commando Operations(X) – comprising Indian Navy officers and divers, eight escapees from a Pakistani submarine and a ragtag bunch of Bengali youth fleeing the genocide – one of India’s largest clandestine operations, meant to destabilise the West Pakistani efforts to bring East Pakistan to its knees.

Revealed for the very first time, here is the explosive authentic account of the guerrilla operation that went for the maritime jugular of Pakistan, and facilitated the birth of Bangladesh.*


402pp, Rs 799; Simon & Schuster
402pp, Rs 799; Simon & Schuster

‘What I have always love s is literary abundance,’ writes Simon Schama, ‘words that chomp, chew, suck, bellow and belch, that sound themselves into existence.’ What he offers is this exuberant new collection from the past decade is a hot stove feast of essays, one short story and a basket of recipes and food pieces, enough to satisfy the most omnivorous literary appetite.

Wordy includes meditations on Holocaust writing, reflections on Shakespeare and Tolstoy, Rabelaisian romps from the author’s London childhood, exactlingly vivid art criticism and riffs on the music of Tom Waits, Debbie Harry and Leonard Cohen, and at the heart of the book are extended encounters with contemporary artists, writers and politicians – Cindy Sherman, Patti Smith, Quentin Blake, as well as Orhan Pamuk, Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton – these vivid portraits of their subjects enriching our understand of their work.

Admired for their trenchant passion, humane thoughtfulness and witty takes on almost every aspect of culture, the essays brought together in Wordy are colourful prose performances taken to the max: entertaining and provoking, they are invitations to look think and laugh at the whole wild drollery of the human comedy.*

*All copy from book flap