The Books BlogThe Books Blog is the bookworm's cozy nook, the authors' stage to connect with his or her readers, the critics' space to speak of things which can't be told in the official milieu of reviews.
If you are force-fed, with food shoveled down your unwilling throat, you will, inevitably, puke it up.
Following which you will also inevitably be left with a deep sense of disgust at your wretched retch.
I guess this explains - at least partly - why eight in ten of us of us, Indian adults, feel for our history on a scale that starts at apathy and detours via aversion to deep abhorrence. For, almost all of us have been child victims of stuff- and- vomit with history.
It started very early in school and our standard-issue History Ma'am. At her deadening touch Facepalm - Omouth -- inducing material withered into dry-as-dust facts, lists of dates, inane NCERT observations, and often just plain nonsense as only Government- approved textbooks can preach nonsense. Which was then all stuffed down our unwilling throats;...Read more...
for Seamus Heaney
... O that awful deepdown torrent O and ...
... the sea the sea crimson something like fire ...
JAMES JOYCE, Ulysses
On the dark dank of Dublin's quayside walls,
neon-text flash poetry
damp concrete iambs ring and meld,
its voltage melting water into fire.
Electric-pink blossoms in its heat
and scent of its own blush,
extracting every photon of its crimson essence.
Wrought-iron curves of the Ha'penny arch
span the wet-shimmerings of Liffey,
its metallic strength commit their torque
enjambments refusing to...Read more...
I have spent the past few months working for a Christian publishing house in the gorgeous old town of Oxford, producing books that illuminate, detail, debate, commodify, beautify, question and everything except threaten, the Christian Faith. But as an ebooks assistant, I learned, device-agnostic was the way to go!
The company's print digitisation programme spans four imprints. Alongside their frontlists, were full-scale plans to digitise their backlists of over eight hundred titles predating the late eighties. Ebook files were sent to conversion houses in India (vendors like Q2A and First Source), who would return with mobi and ePub file formats which would be tested on e-reading devices to see if they read correctly, and if not, returned with instructions referring to the original handover guidelines we had sent out while setting editorial standards for the ebooks. Files would thus move...Read more...
I recently read with significant concern Perry Anderson's essay on Partition of the Indian subcontinent (The London Review of Books, 19 July 2012), hyperlinked below. While Anderson is a distinguished historian, he tackles a range of complex subjects in a brusque and superficial manner in this essay. Though his efforts to critique the Indian Congress high command for its failings on caste, on religious minorities and questions of secularism and representation are broadly commendable, Anderson's readings are selective and ultimately misleading.
Gandhi's "Hindu imaginary," for instance, is of a markedly different nature than that of peers such as Sardar Patel, KM Munshi, and many others. "Caste" is far more nuanced than Anderson makes it out to be, and...Read more...
Mountain Echoes has kicked off to a promising start here in Thimphu, Bhutan. There's usually only so much you can say about a literary festival, but here's one whose location has everyone gushing.
From landing at the gorgeous Paro airport to taking a small walk around a part of Thimphu, a city said to have a population less than South Delhi, a city that didn't used to have proper roads or too many cars even 10 years ago (but has since made up for both), to the majesty of the Himalayas, there's something about this place. I don't know how long the honeymoon period lasts (by 3 years, it's worn off for one foreigner/ resident I spoke to) but so far, so good.
(Hold on, I know it's just been 1 day, and the...Read more...
India is in crisis. A corrupt government rules with no clear and credible replacement in sight, the economy is in terminal decline, the people's trust in the political system is at an all-time low and this dire situation is capped by a clash between the civilian and military leadership of India. Sound familiar? The state of the nation, circa 2012, certainly, but also the premise of my last novel, "Delhi Durbar", published two years ago. The book describes how an Indian Army General by the name of Brajesh Dayal tries to wrest power in Delhi, taking advantage of the people's apathy and frustration towards an increasingly dysfunctional and faltering democracy. Espousing the part of a saviour and holy warrior against corruption, General Dayal promises the country freedom from venal politicians and lays out a road to a new, prosperous India in exchange for his being given a free...Read more...
The Hindi film industry and its sorority of regional-language sister industries in the sub-continent has elevated the song-and-dance sequence to a rare art form. Inspired partly by turn-of the-century stage adaptations of popular "musicals" in the West and partly by the equally popular though entirely home-grown Parsi theatre, film songs serve a variety of purposes. Studded at judicious intervals all through the story, they can make a more telling statement than mere dialogue; they can be both entertaining and illuminating; they can, of course, leaven an otherwise flat story with humour and spice and colour. Though the average song "picturisation" does tend to require large dollops of "willing suspension of disbelief" given the mind-boggling change of costumes, the hordes of incredibly dressed background artistes who descend every time the hero and heroine romance against sylvan backdrops (imagine something more incongruous than Rajasthani...Read more...
It is my first visit to India in 20 years, and as I wonder at the extraordinary changes which have taken place here, I also reflect on what a difference this time has made to myself. I am now more at peace, more humble, and more ready to learn. I am here to learn about the magic of this country, India.
I am also delighted to connect through the wonders of Facebook with India's 'Lesser known Poet' and author of Love on the Rocks, Ismita Tandon Dhankher.
She contacted me after reading "The Source", and was kind enough to review it.
The Source - Book review
The Source is an unusual book that allows you a glimpse of the soul and in time have a...Read more...
I recently read with significant concern Perry Anderson's essay on Partition of the Indian subcontinent (The London Review of
The Hindi film industry and its sorority of regional-language sister industries in the sub-continent has elevated the