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HT’s book picks: A history of Coromandel, nostalgia about fragile friendships

This week’s good reads include a personal history of south India, a harrowing account by a Yazidi woman, and a novel about a college reunion

books Updated: Dec 08, 2017 17:43 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
Charles Allen,Nadia Murad,Swati Kaushal
Interesting reads this week.(HT Team)

Coromandel: a name which has been long applied by Europeans to the Northern Tamil country, or (more comprehensively) to the eastern coast of the Peninsula of India.

This is the India that highly acclaimed historian Charles Allen visits in this fascinating book. In Coromandel he journeys south to explore the less well-known, often neglected and very different history and identity of the Dravidian south.

During Allen’s adventures in the Indian south he meets historians, gurus and local people, and with their help uncovers some extraordinary stories about the past. His sweeping narrative takes in the archaeology, religion, linguistics and anthropology of the region - and shows how they have influenced contemporary politics.

Known for his vivid storytelling, Allen has for decades been travelling the length and breadth of India, revealing the sprit of the subcontinent though its history and people. In Coromandel, he moves through modern-day India, discovering as much about the present as he does about the past. *

Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon.

On 15 August 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, this life ended. Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into the ISIS slave trade.

Nadia was held captive by several militant and repeatedly raped and beaten. Finally, she managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to safety.

Today, Nadia’s story - as a witness to the Islamic State’s brutality, a survivor of rape, a refugee, a Yazidi - has forced the world to pay attention to the ongoing genocide in Iraq. It is a call to action, a testament to the human will to survive and a love letter to a lost country, a fragile community and a family torn apart by war. *


For Aadi, Srini, Ambi, TD, Miru and Kajo, the twentieth anniversary reunion of their batch from IIM Calcutta provides the perfect opportunity to set aside their everyday anxieties and relive the heady days of their youth. But things begin to go awry when ex-lovers reunite, old grudges resurface and long-held secrets come tumbling out.

As they navigate an eventful weekend in Goa packed with expected nostalgia and unexpected drama, what becomes increasingly clear is that while friends are fallible, friendships are forever...

Sparkling with wit, warmth and the easy craft that has marked Swati Kaushal’s bestselling novels, A few Good Friends is a refreshing, nuanced take on friendship , love and this crazy thing called life. *

*All copy from the book flap.

First Published: Dec 08, 2017 17:29 IST