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HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week

Mental health, a murder mystery set in a principality in the Sahayadiris, and a book of short stories on disregarding the 10 commandments on this week’s reading list

books Updated: May 17, 2019 18:19 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
10 Commandments,mental health,murdery mystery
On this week’s reading list: mental health, a murder mystery set in the 1920s in a principality in the Sahayadiris, and a book of short stories on disregarding the 10 commandments. (HT Team)


213pp, Rs 229; Women Unlimited, Speaking Tiger

There are different sizes of bodies. There are different shades of the mind. There are different states of mind in distress. Side Effects of Living presents the words and verses of survivors, writers, poets and artists, who are struggling with a mental condition or have watched their loved ones suffer. Through first person life experiences and moving poetry, they attempt to destigmatise mental health issues, as they describe what happens when the mind gives in -- or gives up. Why does it happen, and can we do anything about it?
Refreshingly honest, always uplifting, this collection urges us to reject the shame and blame that often accompanies mental illness.*


375pp, Rs 399; Penguin

India, 1922. A curse seems to have fallen upon the royal family of Satapur, a princely kingdom tucked away in the lush Sahyadari mountains, where both the maharaja and his teenage son have met with untimely deaths. The state is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur’s two maharanis, the dowager queen and her daughter-in-law.
When a dispute arises between the royal ladies over the education of the young crown prince, a lawyer’s counsel is required to settle the matter. Since the maharanis live in purdah, the one person who can help is Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s only female lawyer. But Perveen arrives to find that the Satapur Palace is full of cold-blooded power play and ancient vendettas.
Too late she realizes she has walked into a trap. But whose? And how can she protect the royal children from the palace’s deadly curse?*


197pp, Rs 299; Speaking Tiger

What would happen if one did steal, commit adultery, covet one’s neighbour’s goods, even murder… and break all the rules we are taught to live by?
Each story in this first-of-its kind collection takes you into a realm where people are prompted by love, desire, jealousy, hatred and, at times, a strange compassion, to throw out the old, conventional rules, and make their own. The title story, “Body and Blood’, is a macabre revelation of how far one can go when one loves someone before all others, even God; in ‘Honour. Or Not’, a young girl abused by her father since the age of thirteen finds a shockingly unexpected way of ‘honouring’ him when he dies.


In a lighter vein, the protagonist in ‘Sunday Snow Job’ asserts that working girls have to work, even on the Holy Sabbath, while Gomes in ‘Heart of Gold’ finds it is possible to covet your neighbour’s wife and get rich too. ‘Wakulla’ raises the question: can stealing be an act of compassion, and not a sin? In ‘Fall’, Srinivas discovers that one can make love to one’s best friend’s wife without actually committing adultery. And coveting your neighbour’s goods is fine – as long as they are the right ones, as ‘Elegy in a Churchyard’, the tenth story in this riveting collection, teaches us.
Written with panache and by turns erotic, tongue-in-cheek and shocking, this is a collection of noir and black humour at its best.*

*All copy from the book flap

First Published: May 17, 2019 18:19 IST