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HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week

The emerald isle, ghazals and Urdu poetry and a corporate battle all feature in this week’s list of good reads

books Updated: Jun 21, 2019 20:55 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
Sri Lanka,ghazals,Tata
This week’s pick of great reads includes books on Sri Lanka, ghazals, and the most sensational corporate spat in recent Indian business history. (HT Team)


UPON A SLEEPLESS ISLE; TRAVELS IN SRI LANKA IN BUS, CYCLE AND TRISHAW BY ANDREW FIDEL FERNANDO

256pp, Rs 599; Pan Macmillan India

Dense green forests in Yala, white-sand coasts in Trincomalee, azure waters off the south coast, Anuradhapura’s ancient temples, and cricket. Civil war, political assassinations, internally displaced communities, industrial-scale corruption. All are Sri Lanka. As are smug bureaucrats, nosy neighbours, and stray dogs with serious axes to grind. Through the eyes of Andrew Fidel Fernando, cricket writer par excellence, both a local and a tourist in his home country, Sri Lanka comes alive as he hurtles down hills in Kandy, breathes in the history at the rock fortress of Sigiriya, grapples with the aftermath of war in Jaffna, and has himself evicted from restaurants near Galle. Weaving through all manner of villages, paddy fields, mountains, jungles and marshlands, and pausing for the pests at grimy guesthouses and the vacationers of luxury hotels, Fernando has the time for every genre of person and wildlife in this chaotic, exquisite, frustrating, bewitching, tumultuous and intoxicating land. Hilariously witty yet wistfully sombre, Upon a Sleepless Isle is the story of a country and a people caught between long historical traditions and global capitalism, resulting in this ingenious paradise.*


HAZAARON KHWAHISHEIN AISI; THE WODERFUL WORLD OF URDU GHAZALS SELECTED, EDITED AND TRANSLATED BY ANISUR RAHMAN

456pp, Rs 599; HarperCollins

The ghazal is a literary curiosity, a quintessential form of poetic expression known for its infectious appeal. This volume brings you the first ever comprehensive collection of Urdu ghazals from its very beginnings in the late sixteenth century to the present times. Sixty-five poets from seven literary periods and diverse locations come together in this collection to showcase a rich fare of ideas and styles. Together, they represent the secular and the sacred. The pious and the profane, the plebian and the patrician in manners as diverse as life itself.

Here is an ever-moving kaleidoscope of the Urdu ghazal that authenticates the literary form. The volume is made richer with the inclusion of the Roman transliteration of the originals in Urdu alongside their English translations.*

TATA VS MISTRY; THE BATTLE FOR INDIA’S GREATEST BUSINESS EMPIRE BY DEEPALI GUPTA

272pp, Rs 599; Juggernaut

In December 2012, Ratan Tata, the legendary chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company that oversees the vast and sprawling Tata empire, retired at the age of seventy-five. After two decades at the helm he passed on the baton to young Cyrus Mistry, the scion of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the construction conglomerate instrumental in shaping the skyline of Mumbai. The Mistrys, who like the Tatas belong to the close-knit Parsi community, own 18 per cent of Tata Sons, second only to the charitable Tata Trusts. But in October 2016, Cyrus Mistry was sacked by the board of Tata Sons during a dramatic meeting at which his onetime mentor Ratan Tata was also present. Something had gone terribly wrong between the two. Based on extensive interviews and email correspondences of the key players, minutes of meetings and court records, this book by financial journalist Deepali Gupta reconstructs the events that led to and followed Mistry’s removal. In the process, Gupta takes us behind the facade of the iconic Tata Sons and its intertwined history with the construction tycoons of the Mistry family. This is the sensational story of a battle that engulfed one of India’s most beloved and philanthropic business houses, with a cast of characters that spans the biggest names of corporate India.*

All copy from book flap

First Published: Jun 21, 2019 20:55 IST