From My Book-Shelf- The New Launches


Men Without Women

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


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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

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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.

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From My Book-Shelf- The New Launches

From My Book-shelf

The Prophet

This book was recommended by a friend and when I checked it out, it was a very thin book so I thought of taking it. Khalil Gibran was a very popular Lebanon poet and writer. “The Prophet” is a poetic writing which talks about a Prophet who is leaving a port city and as he reflects his stay there, the citizens ask him about the various facets of life- love, life, work, marriage, children, friendship, etc. What I found out was that the book takes little time to read but the words kind of stay with you.
“Work is love made visible.” is one of the lines that has stayed with me. This book is filled with lines that will make you reflect on everything you have thought or believed. I would recommend this book to everyone, at least once; and read it in silence so that you can hear your thoughts about the things said in this book.
Memoirs of a Geisha (film)
Memoirs of a Geisha (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Memoirs of a Geisha

I picked this book from the vast collection my sister (check out her blog- has. The story of the book is not hard to guess from the title- it is about this girl from a very poor village but with “unusual” eyes. A man recognizes her beauty and he takes her to Gion- a major Geisha district in Tokyo. This tale is about her journey as she becomes one of the most celebrated geisha in Japan.
The tale is set in the 1930s and how the World War II affected Japan as a whole. I have never read a Japanese book or watched a Japanese movie and this was a good way to know about the Japanese culture and its people.
Here is a fact: the way Western people see women’s legs, as in…the appeal they have for the legs and hence the addition of skirts in the wardrobe- the Japanese think on similar terms for necks. The author goes on to say how a Geisha used to dress to show enough but yet…keep the people hungry for more.
This book is a fascinating insight in the Geisha culture of Japan and the women behind the white make-up.
A definite read!
Cover of "It's Not About the Bike: My Jou...
Cover via Amazon

It’s Not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life

This book made me realize that I should never, ever pick a book if I am even a little doubtful if I want to read it. I was half-convinced about this book inspite of hearing so much about it. I suppose I picked it up for a lack of better (more suitable to me) options. The book is about Lance Armstrong– he is what Sachin Tendulkar is to cricket, Tiger Woods is to golf and Lionel Messi is to football. Except…well…he had cancer- the one of the testes. So he fought that and came back to cycling and win more trophies.
The book is good, as in the way Lance describes cycling…it feels like you are a part of that sport. While I am reading this book, I forget that this is a sport I know nothing about and yet I cycle everyday (almost, actually :D). But somewhere, it is not satisfying. I finished the book in 3 days but I would prefer “Open” by Andre Agassi when it comes to autobiographies.
Yet, not a bad choice if you enjoy autobiographies and if you know anyone with cancer.
From My Book-shelf