From My Book-Shelf

One of the biggest challenges for a voracious reader is to find new authors & a place to discover them. Goodreads is the best platform to discover new books & authors and it has turned 10! Finding new authors is incredibly important as it leads to new stories set in different places which offer different perspectives.

Below are three authors I have not read before & reviews of their books.

28264135

Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore

by Manu S. Pillai

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

Goodreads Link

Manu S. Pillai was 19 when he started research for this book and published it when he was 25. That is a feat in itself for a 700-page historical account of the House of Travancore.

This kingdom, which was established by Martanda Verma was one of the princely states which sided with the British during the Independence movement. The book largely traces the feud between two sisters- the elder Sethu Lakshmi Bai & the younger Sethu Parvati Bai.

It shows a vibrant, cosmopolitan & a matrilineal society which spans today’s Kerala. Despite the length, the book is not a difficult read as it traces the two sisters battling for the dominion-ship of the kingdom.

There is a good queen & a bad queen and their rivalry has a huge impact on the princely state as it traverses India’s independence. People interested in history should pick up this book as this is a meticulously researched book & it shows a rare account of a princely state which sided with the British.

 

26046318

All That Man Is

by David Szalay

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

Goodreads Link

This novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2016 & has a unique structure. It is considered a novel but is actually nine stories of different men in different periods of their lives spanning several countries across Europe.

The first story is that of a teenager & the main characters progress in age as the last one is that of an old man. The stories all deal with a moment of crisis in the lives of these men and while it may seem similar to Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami, it captures the essence of the place beautifully which results in the crisis being portrayed externally & internally.

The stories paint a beautiful picture of Europe and the characters are well-etched out. One of the worst things about short stories is that they don’t feel complete, but this novel provides a sense of satisfaction & completion.

I intend to read more of¬†Szalay’s¬†work.

15796700

Americanah

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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

Goodreads Link

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a critically- acclaimed Nigerian author whose stories largely deal with migration, feminism & racism. Americanah was her third novel & was in the New York Times list of 10 best books of 2013.

The book deals with teenagers¬†Ifemelu¬†&¬†Obinze¬†who fall is love as teenagers in Nigeria. However,¬†Ifemelu¬†moves to the US and due to circumstances they drift apart. The book traces her troubling journey in the US as she tries to find her feet & Obinze’s in¬†the UK as an undocumented worker.¬†

It tackles themes of Nigerian immigrants in the US & their place in the racist American society. Years later, both of them meet in Nigeria and pick up where they left off. But Obinze is married with kids & she had cut off all communication with him suddenly when she was in the US.

The book also reflects Nigeria’s politics & its road to democracy. The book is interesting & captures the essence really well.¬†Chimamanda¬†is a good author to know Nigerian stories.

Here are TED talks by the author which are considered one of the best.

 

Advertisements
From My Book-Shelf

5 Books About India to have on your bookshelf

204123

Freedom at Midnight

by Larry Collins, Dominique Lapierre

For those interested in the partition.

The pair of Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre have written several books together which combine their investigative journalism techniques with historical research. They have written about Paris, New York & Israel and embarked on the Indian Independence together.

The leads of this story are Mountbatten, Jinnah, Nehru & Gandhi. The premise is the Independence of the nation. This book has had painstaking research and uncovered old documents which will make us go through the core people involved in partition. However, since the only major person alive during the writing of this book was Mountbatten, the book does portray him in a good light.

The partition & last few weeks to Independence from the eyes of the ones making decisions about it is a topic which will always be close to our hearts.

 

154126

The Discovery of India

by Jawaharlal Nehru

India from the eyes of the man who established its principles.

Today when the current PM does not even mention India’s first Prime Minister in his speeches, it is even more imperative that we read this book to know the man who led our nation through the most perilous times and made us a secular democracy when no major world leader of that time thought that we could survive.

Nehru was a brilliant writer and this book is a testament to that. True to the title, it is the discovery of India from the eyes of Nehru. The India that we see through his eyes is glorious, strong, independent, proud and a nation of a very rich cultural heritage.

The book is also a reflection of Nehru and the vision he had of India.

 

356824

India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy

by Ramachandra Guha

India’s lesser-known history.

This is the finest book on Indian history I have read. It is over 900 pages but totally unputdownable & very interesting. It takes us through a newly-independent India until the early 90s which was a period that not a lot of us know about.

The book is painstakingly and well researched and is very well-paced. It takes us through the nation’s journey and the major events that took us to this decade. It shows a nation which started low but has slowly & steadily climbed up & stands to be at the frontier in the coming decades.

 

10310

The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

by Amartya Sen

India as a culture & society from the Nobel prize winning economist.

This is Amartya Sen’s most famous book and it explores India and it’s culture and history through sixteen of his essays. It tells us about India’s long argumentative tradition which is so important for remaining a secular democracy.

 

296201

India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age

by Gurcharan Das

Indian economy from the eyes of the man who saw it.

Gurcharan Das was the CEO of P&G India from 1985 to 1992. He grew up with the nation & was at the helm of one of the biggest FMCG companies during the high-growth transition phase.

While his other books are okay, this one was really good. It takes us through India’s economy, it’s challenges, the ’91 reforms and the people behind it. It is a breezy read & well-written which touches the periphery of Indian economy and how we have stumbled through to the era of high growth.

5 Books About India to have on your bookshelf

From My Bookshelf

India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy

India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy

by Ramachandra Guha

 
 
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)Half rating star
 
This is one of the most inspiring and the best books I have read.
 
I remember studying History in school and it was always till 1947. After India had won its independence, we switched to Civics.¬†India After Gandhi¬†covers that phase in India’s History¬†between 1947 till the 90s, when our generation was born.
In fact, this book should be taught in schools. We know about the various dynasties that ruled our country, even before there was an India. And we know of the people who were at the forefront of the Indian Freedom Struggle. But sadly, not many of us know who were at the forefront in upholding the notion of “India” and its democratic principles in spite of being written off by foreign media at the end of every decade.
 
It took the strength and determination of a lot of people to give India its geographical boundaries and its principles. This book is about those people and of the difficult circumstances under which these principles were held.
This book is an epic adventure and that is because of its content and the way it has been written. You will not feel like you are reading History, but are travelling through time and space and will not be able to keep the book down once you have begun. In fact, the only reason why I am not giving this book 5-stars is because, at 800 pages, it is still not comprehensive enough.
 
I wish there were more details about this era of our nation.
Kudos to Ramachandra Guha.
 
 
Love and Longing in Bombay

Love and Longing in Bombay

 
 
0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)Half rating star
 
This is the first Vikram Chandra book I have read and is a collection of short stories. Somehow the reference to the city was not there as much as I was hoping in these stories but the characters are very well etched out and the stories are very engaging. Vikarm Chandra delves deep into the emotions of the people and he makes the characters come alive. In fact, one can feel the emotions within oneself after the stories are over.
 
I plan to read more of his books in the future.
 
 

The Great Indian Novel

 
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 is the third book in recent months I have read about the phase between 1947 till the 80s of India; the other two being¬†Midnight’s Children¬†(https://wordsofashex.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/from-my-bookshelf-4/) and¬†India After Gandhi.
 
However, all three books are extremely different and yet brilliant.
 
Shashi Tharoor¬†takes characters from the Indian epic¬†The Mahabharata¬†and places them in the period from India’s freedom struggle till the 80s. So you have¬†Ganga Datta¬†who replaces¬†Gandhi¬†in the freedom struggle and¬†Dhritarashtra (the blind king) replacing¬†Nehru¬†(who himself was known as a blind idealist). All the major characters of the¬†Mahabharata¬†are transplanted in the Indian history as Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Indira Gandhi,¬†etc.
 
The story is told through the narrator Ved Vyas¬†(author of The Mahabharata¬†and a veteran politician in this book)¬†as he tells¬†Ganapathi¬†to write his story.¬†The book is beautifully written and the format is one that captures the imagination through some really nice prose. After all, who would think of using characters of an epic and supplant them in a nation’s history, bringing them to life and making them flawed human beings.
 
 
From My Bookshelf