Category Archive: Books

Some Sufi Tales and A Desperate Housewife

The novel ‘The Forty Rules of Love’ is actually two novels being played out in two different lands and have a distance of seven centuries in between. This ambitious title authored by well-known Turkish writer Elif Shafak consists of two simultaneous narratives intertwined together.

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On Sahir and On Manwani’s Book

Sahir was the only songwriter and lyricist for whom the songs succeeded on the merit of his words alone, on the power of his poetry. His words had a ‘persona of their own.’ The tune and the melody followed in what was quite unprecedented, and his name appeared ahead of the composers, in the posters.

The Sunday Book Bazaar and a chance sighting of Ghalib

Brooding over the questions of life and death, over joy and sorrow, the poet was known for his intensity of emotions and thoughts. He was iconoclastic, no doubt, and questioned the fundamentals of faith, and was scathing about dogmas of faith, taboos, cant, and anything that was hypocritical.

Ved Prakash Sharma and the ‘pulp’

The Hindi belt exists in twin extremes- there is a Hindi high culture represented by what is known as Hindi literature and there is Hindi pulp. In a largely semi-literate context, Meerut publishers filled the gap with their embrace of the popular/filmy/Bazaar language.

Begum Akhtar: The Tormented Soul Who Rose to be the Ghazal Queen

Begum Akhtar was no ordinary singer. Sarojini Naidu praised her that she was brilliant; the legendary Gauhar Jaan predicted she would be a great ghazal singer. And much later, as she became a household name with her sublime voice and mellifluous singing, she remained humble, though moody and unpredictable.

एक मुखरता का मौन होना

बंगाल के सांस्कृतिक इतिहास में ऐसे अनेक व्यक्ति हुए हैं, जिन्होंने न सिर्फ उस इलाके के, बल्कि पूरे देश की चेतना पर गहरा असर डाला है. महाश्वेता देवी इस सिलसिले का संभवतः अंतिम नाम है.

Chris Harman’s ‘A People’s History of the World: From the Stone Age to the New Millennium’

A People’s History of the World is a fascinating and comprehensive analysis by a well-known British historian, Chris Harman, that traces earliest human history to the Roman Empire, from the Middle Ages to the Age of Enlightenment, from the industrial Revolution to the end of the Millennium. Focusing on the development of technology, its impact on the society and conflict, he dwelt on how the society has changed and developed, what possibilities are for further radical change in the 21st century.

The crisis in the global economy

The crisis in the global economy is a subject that engages many and affects most of mankind. Like all such issues we find little clarity but a lot of fire and brimstone. Few have tried to seek feasible solutions. Even fewer are qualified, experienced and with a usefully cosmic view of the world we live in to write about it. Fortunately we still have people like Mervyn King. King was the Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013, a tumultuous period that saw the world economy expand at a record pace and then arrive at the precipice in 2008. We are still seeking to find new pathways to get over it. And clearly we are struggling.

Tales of A Continuing Carnage

Look at the officers and that Kodnani featured in ‘Gujarat Files’. No one is sorry for his or her role. All are playing victim card. That is chilling. The overarching personality terror of two top guys, then and now, is terrifying in those pages. The fear and submission at large, after Gujarat, now all over, is becoming a normal. India is becoming Gujarat of the post-2002 years. Rana Ayyub’s book is a profound indicator of that. Not the content of the book, but its publication story. The content is important for its evidential value. All is known for too long.

तपिशे-शौक़ और ख़ुलूस का क़िस्सा

उसकी आवारगी में लय है, उसकी घुमक्कड़ी में धुन है, बाहर-भीतर उठती तरंगों की ताल है. अनुराधा रक़्स में है. इस रक़्स में उम्मीदों की रवानी है. उसके रूमान से गुज़रना अपनी हदों से परे झाँकना है. इस लिहाज़ से अनुराधा की किताब को पढ़ना मेरे लिए मेरी अपनी बंदिशों से दो-चार होने का अहसास भी है.

JFK, China and India

Reidel writes with immense knowledge and access to hitherto top secret documents, but with eloquent brevity. He tells all and says all without using up many lines of wordage. He has an eye that can focus with hawk like precision on the relevant detail and keep looking at the big picture also.