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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week

This week HT Picks features a book from one of Indian English literature’s most interesting writers, a memoir from a Bollywood star of the 1970s and 80s, and a collection of historical letters

books Updated: Nov 16, 2018 15:02 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
A stalwart of Indian English writing, a Bollywood memoir and a collection of letters on HT Picks this week.
A stalwart of Indian English writing, a Bollywood memoir and a collection of letters on HT Picks this week.(HT Team)
         

WRITTEN IN HISTORY; LETTERS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD BY SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE

247pp, Rs 599; Hachette
247pp, Rs 599; Hachette

Written in History celebrates the great letters of world history, creative culture and personal life. Acclaimed historian Simon Sebag Montefiore selects letters from ancient times to the twenty-first century: some are noble and inspiring, some despicable and unsettling; some are exquisite works of literature, others brutal, coarse and frankly outrageous; many are erotic, others heartbreaking. The writers vary from Elizabeth 1, Rameses the Great and Leonard Cohen to Emmeline Pankhurst, Mandela, Stalin, Michelangelo, Suleiman, the Magnificent, and unknown people in extraordinary circumstances – from love letters to calls for liberation, declarations of war to reflections on death. In the colourful accessible style of a master storyteller, Montefiore shows why these letters are essential reading: how they enlighten our past, enrich the way we live now – and illuminate tomorrow.

LISTEN TO ME BY SHASHI DESHPANDE

370pp, Rs 699; Westland
370pp, Rs 699; Westland

Shashi Deshpande’s name is synonymous with Indian writing in English. Everyone you know has read her. Deshpande’s novels, with their assertive and modern themes, are as urgent today as when they were first published. Yet, little is known about her. She is famously reticent.

In Listen to Me, Deshpande opens up about her life and work. She writes about being a writer and a feminist, and the shaping of these selves. She draws us into her world: growing up in Dharwad as Kannada litterateur Shriranga’s daughter, moving to Bombay as a student, figuring out her identity as a newly married woman, and negotiating the unfamiliar world of Indian publishing – and always, always her love of reading. As she talks about influences, detractors and challenges, the genesis of her own work shines through.

This book is not a fight to claim a piece of public memory, and definitely not an act of self-aggrandisement. It is an acute observation of an eventful era in Indian literature and history, and a micro-history of Deshpande’s own engagement with it, through her certain and uncertain recollections. With its chiseled prose and honest self-knowledge, it revitalizes that most delicate of endeavours: the writerly memoir.

THE BEST MISTAKES OF MY LIFE BY SANJAY KHAN

273pp, Rs 599; Penguin
273pp, Rs 599; Penguin

Once deemed the most handsome man in Bollywood, Sanjay Khan’s tryst with fame and stardom led him on many adventures across the world. He is best remembered for his performances in films like Ek Phool Do Mali and Abdullah as well as his portrayal of the great Tipu Sultan on television. In this exclusive autobiography he bares the details of a life full of action, excitement, drama, tragedy, and, above all, courage.

Watch: 
 

Written in a witty and engaging style, the book speaks of his formative years, his relationships with family, friends and co-stars, his interactions with world leaders, the stories behind his most remarkable films, and the fire on the set of The Sword of Tipu Sultan that almost killed him. Honest, engaging and revelatory, The Best Mistakes of My Life is the story of a star and a survivor who has resurrected himself with a vengeance each time life has thrown a curveball at him.

First Published: Nov 16, 2018 15:01 IST

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