Today in New Delhi, India
Jul 19, 2019-Friday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

HT Picks: This week’s interesting reads

A rich collection of essays, at look at Indo-US relations, and a much-awaited novel on this edition of HT Picks

books Updated: Oct 26, 2018 20:29 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
desert,writers,Indo-US ties
Essays, a novel and a look at the relationship between two large democracies on HT picks this week. (HT Team)


333pp, Rs 495; Oxford University Press

In this wonderfully rich and diverse collection of essays, Amit Chaudhuri explores the way in which writers understand and position their own work in antithesis to, and affinity with, writers and movements that have gone before. Chaudhuri’s criticism disproves and questions several assumptions that a serious and original artist cannot think critically in a way that matters; that criticism can’t be imaginative, and creative work contain radical argumentation; that a writer reflecting on their own practice cannot offer more than a testimony of their work, or that they cannot open up how we think of literary history and reading. The notions of ‘opening up’ and ‘opening out’ are, in fact, key to Chaudhuri’s sense of how a work, a culture or an experience might present a fresh and unexpected direction or reading. Illuminating new ways of thinking about inherited traditions, prejudices, and preconception, Chaudhuri shows us again that he takes nothing as a given: literary tradition, the prevalent definitions of writing and culture, and the way the market determines how culture and language express themselves. He asks us to look again at what we mean by the modern, and how it might be possible to think of the literary today.*


422pp, Rs 599; Penguin

Anita Rose lives in a concrete block in one of Karachi’s biggest slums, languishing in poverty with her mother and older brother. Determined to escape her stifling circumstance, she struggles to educate herself, scribbling down English words - gleaned from watching TV or taught by her elderly neighbour – in her most prized possession: a glossy red notebook. All the while she is aware that a larger destiny awaits her.

On the other side of Karachi lives Monty, whose father owns half the city. But Monty wants more than fast cars and easy girls. When the rebellious Layla joins his school, he knows his life will never be the same again.

And far away in Portsmouth, Sunny fits in nowhere. It is only when he meets his charismatic, suntanned cousin Oz – whose smile makes Sunny feel found – that he realizes his true purpose.

These three disparate lives will cross paths in the middle of a desert, a place where life and death walk hand in hand, and where their closely guarded secrets will force them to make a terrible choice.*


308pp, Rs 599; Penguin

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have built their politics on the promise of making their countries ‘great again’. Placing the US and India as leaders on the world stage is the stated objective of their respective foreign policies, based as they are on the assumption that both inherited a mess from their predecessors. Both are trying to relitigate the notions of self, enemy and allies in their respective countries.

Varghese K George, in Open Embrace, provides an overview of the change occurring in America’s relations with the world under the Trump presidency and what it means for India. While President Barack Obama and George W Bush had emphasized that the US’s relation with India would shape the twenty-first century, Trump’s America First politics is a repudiation of the nation’s strategic culture. His alignment with Modi’s world view – what George calls the Hindutva Strategic Doctrine – and the US’s changing relationship with India’s neighbours, Pakistan and China, form a crucial part of this narrative.*

*All matter from book flap

First Published: Oct 26, 2018 20:28 IST