Posts

Recommended Read of the month

Book Review: A Crown of Thorns - The Coronavirus and Us by Kalpish Ratna

Image
  “Like all great stories, COVID-19 is a tragedy, a love story gone seriously wrong.”   Sometime in November 2019, China reported the first suspected case of the novel Coronavirus. On 31 December 2019, an epidemiological alert was issued. A year later, today, the whole world is grappling with this deadly virus, in some form or other. While some countries are currently facing the second or the third wave or fresh cases being registered, some are discovering the long-term effects of the virus. Approximately 1.5 million people have died in this pandemic globally.  Surgeons Ishrat Syed and Kalpana Swaminathan write together as “Kalpish Ratna.” They have previously written a book on the Zika Virus (2017). Bringing together their experiences and expertise in the medical field, they analyze the deadly pandemic which has brought the whole world to a standstill. Read the full review on The Friday Times .

Book Review: The Wrath of the Hellfire (Vikramaditya Veergatha Book #4) - by Shatrujeeth Nath

Image
  Image Source: Amazon.in ISBN: 978-9389305678   Publisher: Jaico Publishing House Price: INR 499/- Genre: Fiction, Fantasy About the Book  Patience is a Drawn Bow. Rage, its Relentless Arrow.  Shukracharya’s plan to break the unity of Vikramaditya’s Council has borne bitter fruit. Friends have become sworn enemies, and brother has turned against brother, setting Avanti on the path to self-destruction. Even as Vikramaditya prepares to counter a Huna invasion, a rebellion brews within Ujjayini, while a devious conspiracy is hatched to humiliate him. With Indra’s spies swarming the palace and Shukracharya making a bold bid to take the Halahala, the king is dangerously close to the brink of defeat. Alone and abandoned by those dear to him, fighting to protect his people, trying his best to keep his promise to Shiva, will the samrat rise one last time to defend his love, his city and his honour? As the asura and deva forces muster in a final, desperate gamble to claim the Halahala, Th

Book Review: The Art of Writing - Four Principles for Great Writing that Everyone Needs to Know by Peter Yang

Image
  Image Source: Amazon.in ISBN: 978-1631610769  Publisher : Tck Publishing  Price: INR 99/- ( Kindle copy) Genre: Nonfiction, Creative Writing, Writing Guide Book Blurb Discover the lost art of great writing. Since the invention of writing, the written word has fueled humanity's astonishing progress. Thus, the ability to write effectively and beautifully has long been revered and rewarded. And yet in the digital age, people have begun to believe that this talent is somehow obsolete: that writing is something unworthy of study beyond the basic mechanics of vocabulary and syntax and grammar, that mediocre prose is acceptable in a world crying out for clear and precise communication. Peter Yang believes otherwise.  The Art of Writing is Yang's highly practical treatise on the four key principles of dazzling, effective writing--economy, transparency, variety, and harmony. Far from your garden-variety style guide, the principles in this book apply to everyone, whether you

Book Review : Ratno Dholi - The Best Stories of Dhumketu by Jenny Bhatt

Image
  Image Source: Amazon.in ISBN - 13 : 978-9390327782  Genre: Fiction, Anthology Short Stories, Translated Literature, Contemporary Fiction Publisher : Harper Collins India Price: INR 399/- Book Blurb The tragic love story of a village drummer and his dancer lover...  A long-awaited letter that arrives too late...  A tea-house near Darjeeling, run by a mysterious queen...  When Dhumketu's first collection of short stories, Tankha, came out in 1926, it revolutionized the genre in India. Characterized by a fine sensitivity, deep humanism, perceptive observation and an intimate knowledge of both rural and urban life, his fiction has provided entertainment and edification to generations of Gujarati readers and speakers. Ratno Dholi brings together the first substantial collection of Dhumketu's work to be available in English. Beautifully translated for a wide new audience by Jenny Bhatt, these much-loved stories - like the finest literature - remain remarkable and relevant

Book Review: A Plate of White Marble by Bani Basu (Translated by Nandini Guha)

Image
Image Source: Amazon.in Namrata reviews Bani Basu's A Plate of White Marble translated by Nandini Guha (Published by Niyogi Books, 2020) and calls it a mirror reflecting the ugly facets of our society. Published by: Niyogi Books Year of Publishing: October, 2020 Price: INR 400/- ‘ Some women fear the fire. Some women simply become it...’  – R.H. Sin This was the first thought I had in mind, after completing A Plate of White Marble by Bani Basu . Written originally in Bengali circa 1990, this story of Bandana captures every aspect of the struggles of an Indian woman in those times. Considered to be one of the most versatile contemporary writers in Bengali, Bani Basu is an eminent academician, poet, novelist, essayist, critic and translator. She writes on diverse topics ranging from history and mythology to society, psychology and gender. Since her debut in 1980 with the stellar Janmabhumi-Matribhumi , a number of her stories have been adapted into films and

Book Review: The Pain Relief Secret - How to Retrain Your Nervous System, Heal Your Body, and Overcome Chronic Pain by Sarah Warren

Image
  Image Source: Amazon.in ASIN : B07W7PG7ZC  Publisher : TCK Publishing  Price: INR 99/- Genre: Nonfiction, Self-help, Healthy Living and Wellness, Chronic Pain, Health    Book Blurb You Can Heal from Chronic Pain  We’ve been sold a lie: The world tells us that pain is inevitable, that our bodies must break down as we age, and that there’s nothing we can do about it. Researchers develop new drugs to manage our pain; surgeons dream up new techniques to repair worn-out joints. But we never truly feel better. Here’s the shocking truth: The vast majority of the pain that plagues our aging bodies is self-inflicted. It’s caused by the way we use our bodies every day—the way we sit, the way we stand, the way we walk and run. But with simple exercises, anybody can learn to heal their chronic musculoskeletal pain, and prevent future pain, injury, and joint problems from developing. The Pain Relief Secret explores the fascinating science of pain, and instructs readers in Clinical Somat

Book Review: The Battle of Belonging- On Nationalism, Patriotism, And What It Means To Be Indian by Shashi Tharoor

Image
Image Source: Amazon.in Publisher : Aleph Book Company  Release Date: 31 October 2020 Genre: Non-fiction, Indian History, Political Structure, Political Ideology ISBN-13 : 978-8194735380 Price: INR 799/- Now available on About the Book There are over a billion Indians alive today. But are some Indians more Indian than others?  To answer this question, one that is central to the identity of every man, woman, and child who belongs to the modern Republic of India, eminent thinker and bestselling writer Shashi Tharoor explores hotly contested ideas of nationalism, patriotism, citizenship, and belonging. In the course of his study, he explains what nationalism is, and can be, reveals who is anti-national, what patriotism actually means, and explores the nature and future of Indian nationhood. He gives us a clear-sighted view of the forces working to undermine the ‘idea of India’ (a phrase coined by Rabindranath Tagore) that has evolved through history and which, in its modern form, w

Book Review: The Greatest Hindi Stories Ever Told by Poonam Saxena

Image
  Image Source: Amazon.in Publisher : Aleph Book Company Year of Publishing: 10 October 2020 Genre: Anthology, Translations, Collected Short Stories, Hindi Short Stories, Classic,  ISBN-13 : 978-8194735304 Price: INR 699/- Buy Link: Amazon   About the Book The twenty-five stories in The Greatest Hindi Stories Ever Told represent the finest short fiction in Hindi literature. Selected and translated by editor, writer, and translator Poonam Saxena, and ranging from early literary masters of the form such as Premchand, Chandradhar Sharma Guleri, Bhisham Sahni, Harishankar Parsai, Mannu Bhandari, and Shivani to contemporary greats such as Asghar Wajahat, Uday Prakash, Sara Rai, and others, the collection has stories of darkness, hope, triumph, anger, and irony. In Premchand’s ‘The Thakur’s Well’, ‘low-caste’ Gangi struggles to find drinking water for her ill husband; in ‘The Times Have Changed’ by Krishna Sobti, the matriarch Shahni bids a heart-breaking farewell to her village during Par

Book Review: Murder Milestone- An Inspector Saralkar Mystery by Salil Desai

Image
  Image Source: Amazon.in ISBN : 978-9390183661  Publisher : Fingerprint! Publishing Release Date: 1 August 2020  Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Murder Mystery  Price: Rs. 250/-  About the Book “HAPPY HANGING!” Saralkar growled with all the spite in his system and stormed out of the cell. Weeks before serial killer Dharmesh Solanki is to be executed, he wickedly burdens Senior Inspector Saralkar with a macabre secret Saralkar would’ve been better off not knowing. Impelled to verify Solanki’s disturbing claim, Saralkar and PSI Motkar reopen the sixteen-year-old case, for which the senior inspector had won a police medal. And out tumble intriguing leads and shocking facts that had fallen through the cracks back then. Worse, only a motley group of elusive characters might form the shaky bridge to the murky truth—a missing ex-constable, a gluttonous witness who had narrowly escaped being murdered by Solanki, Solanki’s biographer, the serial killer’s own son, and the daughter of one of

HOW VINOD RAI SHEDS LIGHT ON INDIA’S PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN RETHINKING GOOD GOVERNANCE

Image
Title:   Rethinking Good Governance — Holding to Account India’s Public Institutions Author: Vinod Rai Publisher: Rupa Publications, 2019   “ Here is a hugely important book for India and Indians, especially those who should be guardians of the nation and rulers delivering good governance. ” – Baron Meghnad Desai, British economist and Labour politician   Bringing together his experience of heading various public institutions for the Government of India, Vinod Rai gives us a glimpse into the workings of these organisations through this book. Vinod Rai is a man who needs no introduction. An IAS officer from the 1972 batch, he went on to head many important chair positions all through his illustrious career. Starting with being the Comptroller and Auditor General of India followed by being the chairperson for Banks Board Bureau and finally currently being the Chairman of the Supreme Court-mandated Committee of Administrators of the BCCI. Out of the many accolades he won, the most prestig

BLASPHEMY: A STARK REMINDER TO THE SOCIETY

Image
  Namrata explores Osman Haneef’s debut novel  Blasphemy  ( Published by Readomania, April 2020 ) which raises some important questions on the cruel laws and outdated practices .   “People are entitled to change their minds.” Osman Haneef (Blasphemy) These words from Osman Haneef’s debut novel Blasphemy stay in your mind long after you are done reading it. It denotes my exact thoughts after reading it. I plunged into it with curiosity, completely unaware about what was about to hit me and was in for a surprise. It is one of those rare books which remind you, the problems you are bogged down with, are not yours alone. The degree of the problem might vary, but there are many out there battling with it and wondering if there is any end to it. Haneef’s novel tries to show us that end, though carefully disguised. Through Blasphemy, Haneef explores the controversial law of Pakistan. Highly insightful and majorly one that raises a lot of important questions, this story of a young Christian bo

Yet again!

Image
  It always feels good to see the efforts put in behind a blog be appreciated and that too in a humongous way! Yet again, for the 7th year in a row this blog has been a part of this list which features the Top Literary Blogs in India for the year 2020 .  This blog turns 9 in a few months and out of those 9, this blog has been a part of this list for 7 which for me is a huge compliment. What started as a love for the written word metamorphosed into love for literary criticism, and from this blog my reviews went onto get published in various magazines and ezines both national and international. Today, as the editor of a magazine when I look back to trace this journey of 9 years it has brought me nothing but immense joy and loads of learning, something which I am sure the best of MFAs or literary criticism degrees couldn't have taught me. So here's to yet another exciting journey to gather more such coveted titles, to continue loving books and to write about them at length.

MOHINI – THE ENCHANTRESS : A BEAUTIFUL ODE TO THE GODDESS OF BEAUTY AND FERTILITY

Image
  Namrata talks about  Anuja Chandramouli’s  latest book,  Mohini: The Enchantress  ( August, 2020) calling it an attempt to paint a fresh image of Mohini in the reader’s mind . “Elusive as a fragment of a forgotten dream, fragile as a figment from fantasy, Mohini is perfection made possible. Distilled from the essence of Vishnu, Mohini the Enchantress is a part of him and yet she revels in the autonomy and extraordinary powers of beauty, magic and enchantment that are hers to wield. She is loved and desired by all in existence and yet, she is elusive tantalizing temptress, traipsing her way across the topsy-turvy terrain of fable and myth.” Anuja Chandramouli Anuja Chandramouli’s Mohini is a beautiful ode to the Goddess of Beauty and Fertility. Considered to be the only female avatar of Vishnu, created by Vishnu and Shakti, this book traces her life through sands of time. As an author Anuja Chandramouli has been known to explore lesser known aspects of different mythological character

SHADOW CITY: ALL ABOUT CHILDHOOD, ANCESTRAL ROOTS, HERITAGE, CULTURE AND FAMILIAL TIES

Image
  Namrata explores Kabul through Taran N Khan’s Shadow City which according to her isn’t just about a city . Stories in Kabul begin with the phrase ‘ Yeki bood, yeki na bood .’ There was one, there was no one. Taran N Khan (Shadow City) Taran N Khan’s first book, Shadow City takes us around Kabul highlighting the varied experiences the city and its people have been through over years. It is neither a memoir, nor a travelogue. Lying somewhere in between, Khan has found the perfect voice to depict a place which has been through so much and yet continues to thrive in various ways. Growing up in Aligarh, Khan grew up with a fascination for Afghanistan due to her Pashtun background. After completing her education in Delhi and London, she has now decided to call Mumbai her home for the time being. Her works have been widely published in India and internationally, including in Guernica, Al Jazeera, the  Caravan  and  Himal Southasian . Her writing has also received support from the MacDowell

IS THE MERMAN BOOK OF POWER ANOTHER ARABIAN NIGHTS?

Image
  Book Review by Namrata Name: The Merman and the Book of Power- A Qissa Author: Musharraf Ali Farooqi Publisher: Aleph Book Company, 2019 The Merman and the Book of Power  is the retelling of a  qissa , a classic storytelling form in Urdu. This epic novel combines myth with history to give us a glimpse of the evolution of civilisation. Author Musharraf Ali Farooqi works have been critically acclaimed and have been a finalist for both, Man Asia Literary Prize 2012 and DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2008 apart from being longlisted for IMPAC/Dublin Literary Prize. Along with being a writer, he is also an editor, translator and founder of the Storykit Program. As Farooqi says in the Author’s Note,  “This book merges the parallel histories, myths and multiple personas for Apollonius of Tyana, Hermes Trismegistus and Alexander the Great in the Western and Eastern literary canon, and the various religious, occult and apocalyptic traditions associated with them.” Deeply reminiscent of

FALL BABY: DILEMMA OF AN ARTIST AND THEIR STRUGGLES

Image
  Evocative and alluring , Namrata reviews  Laksmi Pamuntjak’s Fall Baby   (Published by Penguin SEA, 2019) ‘ Somewhere in mid-flight, it occurs to me that I’m still at home and without a home; its just that now there are two homes instead of one and that must count for something. ’ With lines akin to poetry, Pamuntjak’s latest novel Fall Baby is a compelling read. Interestingly, one of the main protagonists of this novel, Siri, is the illegitimate daughter of Amba and Bhisma, the protagonists of Laksmi Pamuntjak’s award winning first novel,  Amba/ The Question of Red. Laksmi Pamuntjak is a bilingual Indonesian novelist, poet, journalist, essayist and food critic. Her debut novel  Amba/The Question of Red  won many awards and has been translated into several languages followed by her second novel,  The Birdwoman’s Palate  which was adapted into a movie.  She writes across genres dabbling in a poetry collection, a food guide, collection of short stories on painting and a treatise on vio

BEAST: AN URBAN FANTASY REMINISCENT OF A FOLKLORE

Image
  Namrata looks at Krishna Udayasankar’s new novel set in Mumbai in the backdrop of the dark underbelly of the city amidst the world of Saimhas (werelions) Publisher : Penguin Released in :  March 2019 An urban fantasy set in the mega city of Mumbai, Beast by Krishna Udayasankar reminds you of the folklore of Lord Narsimha and Prahalad. The description of one being ‘ Neither a man, nor an animal ’, is the common thread between the two. Krishna Udayasankar is known as the author of  The Aryavarta Chronicles  long with  Immortal ,  3  and  Objects of Affection . Her books have known to be a fascinating point where myth and science meet. Beast also falls in that category where she talks about Mumbai being attacked by werelions ( Saimhas ) who have been living alongside human-beings since ancient times.  The cover of the book is set in greyish blue tones against the backdrop of a lit-up Mumbai skyline with a hazy face of the lion playing hide and seek with the reader. The cover along with

OFF THE SHELF: AN ODE TO THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY

Image
  Book Review by Namrata Off the Shelf by Sridhar Balan November 2019 Speaking Tiger Publishing Every book has a lot of people involved in it. Of course, a writer is at the core of it all but once the writer is done writing it, we have the beta-readers and editors who polish it further to make it publishing ready. Furthermore, we have the cover designer, typesetter, marketing team and many others who work on giving it the final shape before we the readers get to hold it in our hands.  Off the Shelf   by Sridhar Balan is an ode to all those people (invisible hands) who work on a book to make sure it reaches the readers in a beautiful package, inside out. Sridhar Balan is a senior professional in the publishing industry with decades of experience in the Indian publishing industry. Having worked with Oxford University Press and Ratna Sagar P Ltd, he has also been a literary columnist with several Indian newspapers. Currently, he is a consultant with Ratna Books, an imprint for translation

ONE DROP OF BLOOD : MOURNING AND MARTYRDOM

Image
  Namrata reviews  One Drop of Blood by Ismat Chugtai  based on the battle of Karbala. Published by Women Unlimited (An Associate of Kali for Women), 2020 Featured in  Hindustan Times  as one of the interesting books early this year,  One Drop of Blood  by Ismat Chugtai is a unique book in many ways. Firstly, it is the last work of Ismat Chugtai and secondly, it so different from her usual line of work. One drop of Blood  is based on the battle of Karbala fought in 680 A.D. in present-day Iraq between Yazid, the reigning Caliph and his mighty soldiers and Imam Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad with his small army. According to the Islamic calendar Muharram is the first month of the year and the second holiest month, after the month of Ramzan. Muharram is also a period of  mourning the martyrdom  of Imam Husain and his family (including his infant grandchild) in the battle of Karbala. As she herself states in an interview, “ The tragedy behind the pageantry of Muharram commemorat

HOW MANJUL BAJAJ WEAVES A NOTE OF HOPE INTO THE TRAGIC EPIC OF HEER RANJHA

Image
  Title: In Search of Heer  Author: Manjul Bajaj Publisher: Tranquebar Press, 2019 Manjul Bajaj’s  In Search of Heer  is a retelling of the historical tale of Heer Syal and Deedho Ranjha, the star-crossed lovers from Punjab. In her poignant narration, Bajaj manages to highlight some unknown aspects of the centuries old epic love story and leaves a reader content after reading what is otherwise, a sad story. Before becoming a writer, Manjul Bajaj worked in the field of environment and rural development. Both her previous works,  Come, Before Evening Falls  and  Another Man’s Wife  were shortlisted for Hindu Literary Prize. She has also written two books for children. We are in the year 2020 and yet the sheer number of cases of honour killing, especially in South Asian countries is horrifying. While the debate of who is to be blamed for this remains, the end result barely has altered since centuries. Taking the case of Heer Syal from the epic love story of Heer-Ranjha — she was supposedl