From My Book-Shelf- The New Launches


Men Without Women

by Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator), Ted Goossen (Translator)


My Rating- 0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)

This book was a gift so it will be one of the few books I will keep with me wherever I live. I never buy books but prefer renting them. And what better author to have other than Haruki Murakami. 🙂

He is one of my favorite authors and his books transcend the laws and boundaries defined by nature. But this one is a series of short stories (seven, to be precise) of men who have lost the women in their lives.

The causes vary and the reaction of the men to these losses vary as well, but what remains constant is Murakami’s fluency and wry humor. To understand the men in this book, one has to go beyond the words and understand how these tragedies have shaped their lives.

These are stories of men without women; Of men who had these women but lost them in tragic circumstances; Stories of men dealing with loneliness. These men are a reflection of all men and how we would react to tragedy and loneliness in our own lives; Or may have already reacted to loneliness.

Murakami had said that writing a novel is like planting a forest and writing short stories is like planting a garden. His garden gives the same shade as a forest.



The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

My Rating- 0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)

A lot has been said about Arundhati Roy’s new novel, her first since the Booker-prize winning God of Small Things.

Since her first novel, she has written extensively about the Indian state and its brutalities. I do not entirely support her views because this is politics and you cannot be righteous with it. Brutality goes hand-in-hand with kindness, war goes hand-in-hand with peace and politics is the game of balancing both the sides.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is set in an India which she has seen and written about over the last twenty years. The arrogant, Hindu chest-thumping Gujarat ka lalla (her words) who has gone on to become the Prime Minister despite presiding over one of the most brutal riots in his State; The India which has severely and authoritatively put down the people of Kashmir (and still does) and the Red Corridor which has exposed the unfairness of the  Indian State.

Anjum, a transgender who fights her tragic life to make some sense out of it; Tilo, an architect who travels to Kashmir for her love for Musa are the people who drive this story which is set against a backdrop of an India which is immoral, corrupt, brutal and uncompromising.

There is a cast of support characters as well & this motley group ends up establishing a community in a graveyard as they try to put out the fires in their own lives.

The novel takes us through a vast landscape which ends up distracting us from the stories of these people. The novel’s canvas is too big and some of it seems force-fitted. More than the individual stories, it is the nation that plays the role of the major character unlike her previous novel. Of course, all lives are shaped by external events but the focus is on those particular events rather than the characters.

In that way, it falls slightly short.

GoodReads Link

From My Book-Shelf- The New Launches

From My Book-shelf

Breathless in Bombay

A friend gave me this book after he was done reading it and I am glad I got sick during that time. I took a 2-day leave from office and since I had nothing to do, read this book. This book is a collection of short stories with the backdrop being Mumbai. The characters are so beautifully crafted that one can feel that they actually exist…and maybe they do. I could not put the book down once I started reading it. In fact, I wanted to rush home after work and read this book! This is a must read for people who like to read short stories as this book takes you through the same emotional journey that a novel does.

A House for Mr Biswas

Reading became a hobby when I used to read stories from my English text-books even before they had been taught in class. After that I moved on to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sidney Sheldon. I had never read Indian authors nor did I hear from anyone that Indian writers are widely acclaimed. Hence when I started reading voraciously, I never took a book penned by an Indian. But off late I have had a change of heart. I have read about Indian authors and there is a sense of emotional touch they have which I can connect with. The characters are well sketched out and the focus is on the place, the culture and the characters rather than the plot (Refer God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy).
VS Naipaul is an acclaimed author of Indian origin. His book “A House for Mr. Biswas” is about a man’s struggle to have a house of his own. On the way, he gets married, has kids, changes jobs and places, goes into depression, becomes a journalist and goes through the ups and downs all of us go through. The book is a little boring, but then this is a typical Indian book- focus on characters, culture and family rather than the plot. But then, credit to the author…after all how many can write a whole book about a man who wants to own a house. 😀
But the book is more than that. It is about Indian family values, trials of living in a joint family and the kind of thinking that still exists in India. But you need to be patient to read it. At some points it drags for a while and one is tempted to put it down. So if you are a patient person and prefers books which are not racy enough but focus on the characters and their emotional journey then go for this one.

The Old Man and His God: Discovering the Spirit of India

I read somewhere about Sudha Murty and saved her name in my phone so that if I find a book written by her, I’l take it. This time I did. And well…I regret it. Sudhar Murty has written numerous books and they have been translated to many different languages. Maybe I picked the wrong book, but I guess that happens once in a while. 🙂
This book is a collection of short stories- all of them about the people the author has met and have influenced her in some way or the other. Reading this book reminded me of my school days when we used to read short stories which were 3-4 pages long and were written in simple English. I guess some stories can be made a part of the school curriculum but I’d stop there. The stories are good, simply written and it feels like the author has used her name to publish some entries she must have made in her diary. Some stories seem incomplete and a waste of time while others are good and yet you feel something is amiss.
I would recommend this book for school going kids and parents who tell their children “bed-time stories”.

From My Book-shelf

From my book-shelf

1) The God of Small Things

by Arundhati Roy

You need to make a family chart to read this book. Simply because the family goes back to 3 generations and every character is described in detail and have complicated south-Indian names. I got confused at certain points as well. However, Arundhati Roy has written this novel in a very different style. This Pulitzer-prize winning novel has a very simple story, but the way the characters have portrayed their emotions is what will keep you hooked to this novel. It does get a little slow and boring in between but this novel is worth a read if you are looking to read something which has a plot that is very different from the other novels.

2) Papillon

by Henri Charriere

This novel reminds me of Shantaram, but this one seems better. It is about this French guy (Henri Charriere, known as Papillon) who was wrongly convicted for a murder in 1931. This is his journey as he runs away from many prisons, is captured again and escapes again (from a prison no one had ever escaped before) and is captured again…only to escape again. He vows to get back into society and prove to the French justice system that even prisoners can start a new, clean life. It has been written in a way that you will feel that you are on a journey with him. You will rejoice with him, cry with him (I did not :D) and go on a journey across South America together.

One small chapter in which Papillon is in solitary confinement for two years just takes your breath away. A definite read!

3) Animal Farm

by George Orwell

This book and the author need no introduction. I remember half the class doing a book report on this book until the teacher told everyone to pick another book. But this book should be read by everyone. It is just 160 pages but has an impact like no other. If you still have not read this book, then do it today…and I assure you that you will be done in 2 days.

Next is a Paulo Coelho week. 🙂

From my book-shelf