Monday, April 27, 2009

A Trio of Subcontinental Book Reviews

It's been awhile since I've had a pile of books to read, but I have three that I want to tell you about. The first book is a short story by Rohinton Mistry. Some of you might have read A Fine Balance, Such A Long Journey, Family Matters, or Tales From Firozsha Baag. All are set in Mumbai, the boyhood home of Mistry who now lives and teaches in Canada, and fabulous books, IMHO. If you are not familiar with the most awesome writings of Rohinton Mistry, The Scream is a great place to start. First of all, it is a short story of just 35 pages, including the cool mixed media illustrations by Tony Urquhart. Now, the only frustrating thing about this little book, is that I waited too long for a new release from Mistry and it's so short, but brilliant!
The Scream is a result of a joint project put together by World Literacy Of Canada, and all proceeds donated by the authors will go to help the organization continue its literacy work with women and children in India. That is reason enough alone to have spent 25 bucks on a 35 page book. I will just tell you that the story is told by an aging man in Mumbai, and his outlook on the world around him. It's very visual and in fact, to be honest, I could've done without the illusrations in lieu of more words. Check it out!I have also just gotten in the mail today, a copy of Six Suspects, the second novel by Vikas Swarup, the author of Q & A, aka Slumdog Millionaire. I have not begun to read it, but I will tell you, it is a big fat 470 pages of Swarup style writing, and I cannot wait to get to it. Here is how it starts:
"Not all deaths are equal. There's a caste system even in murder. The stabbing of an impoverished rickshaw-puller is nothing more than a statistic, buried in the inside pages of the newspaper. But the murder of a celebrity instantly becomes headline news. Because the rich and famous rarely get murdered."
If it is anywhere near as good as Q & A, I am sure to stay up late devouring it for sure. It is a murder mystery, as you maybe can tell from the title, set in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. I cannot wait to start this one, but first I have to finish the next book I will tell you about.

I am currently reading The City of Djinns by William Dalrymple, the author of The White Mughals. This is the story of the life of a man and his wife, and the year they lived in Delhi. I knew I would love this humourous richly detailed book when I read the prologue. This is the line that really got me:

"Moreover the city- so I soon discovered- possessed a bottomless seam of stories: tales receding far beyond history, deep into the cavernous chambers of myth and legend. Friends would moan about the touts on Janpath and head off to the beaches in Goa, but for me Delhi always exerted a stronger spell. I lingered on..."
And that is exactly how I feel about cities in India, especially Bangalore. I am slowly warming up to Delhi as well. I love wandering around the streets and alleys of major cities in India. There you will find people and treasures, and foods, and handcrafts that all demand exploring.
So I am only on page 24 of The City of Djinns, and I am already in love with this book and the wit of William Dalrymple.
I hope you will check out these books. I promise a review of Six Suspects once I have finished it.
Have a lovely day!


Mona said...

Susie? You are turning into a book reviewer?

S said...

Yes Mona, I am, just for Indian lit tho! Did you like it?


Anonymous said...

Wonderful books!!!

Mona said...

O I loved it! If you get a chance do read Shantaram By Gregory David Roberts. It is an amazing tale about India seen through an Australian's eyes. I am sure you will love it!

I heard they are making a hollywood movie based on that book, starring Johnny Depp!

But Reading the book is different...and better than watching its movie version.

I am still in Cali & may be here for a few more months

G-Man said...

I'll run out and get them now.

lime said...

oh, my to read pile is already so massive! eeeek. but it's great to find books you love so much. thanks for sharing :)

Mona said...

Susie, I presented a Paper on Salman Rushdie's works at a Seminar once.

To be able to follow Rushdie's Midnight's Children, you will have to read the history of post- independence India, ( 1947-1970). Midnight's Children is an allegorical socio-political satire of that era!

S said...

Yes Mona, I love how MC opens with him being born on the eve of independence! And the part about his uncle was it, his nose...but I haven't gotten past that part.

All that history hurts my brain, and City of Djinns is similar in that respect, I have just suffered through the assasination of Sonia Gandhi and the riots again! OyyYY!

Anonymous said...

hey suse...get you with the books n reviewing n all...!!! lol ;) :P

just got hold of 'Q & A', now re-titled 'Slumdog Millionaire' of course...

might take me a while as my pile is as big as Lime's by the sound of it...!!! later x x x