Friday, July 30, 2010
Sarita Mandanna was born and brought up in India and worked in Hong Kong before moving to the US. She is a private equity professional with a PGDM from the Indian Institute of Management and an MBA from Wharton Business School. Tiger Hills, her debut novel, is an epic saga and a love story set in Coorg. We spoke to her about her writing, her inspirations and her tips to aspiring authors.
Tiger Hills is a magnificent novel, spanning decades. What were your inspirations for the character of Devi (either fictional or real life)?
Devi in the aggregate is fictional. Being from Coorg, and with a significant amount of family still there, I was concerned that I would end up ruffling feathers, however inadvertently, were my characters to mirror actual people or their lives. Having said that, there are bits and pieces of Devi that are rooted in reality. Her appearance for instance – pale, delicate – draws on the women in my family. My mother, her mother before her. A great aunt whose skin was so translucent, they say you could see the water trickle down the inside of her throat as she drank! Then there is Devi’s inner fortitude, which is also based on the women I know or have heard of – the most gently, softly spoken souls imaginable, but each possessing a backbone of steel. My paternal great- grandmother for instance was widowed very young. She brought up her children single-handedly while managing the family property, stalking up and down her fields with a dagger tucked into her sari. That tenacity of spirit definitely permeated my pen and the characters in Tiger Hills.
How do the comparisons with novels like Gone With The Wind and The Thornbirds affect you?
Given how enduringly popular both those novels have proved to be, I’ll take the comparisons as a compliment! In all seriousness though, the stories of all three are different; I believe what people are responding to when they make the comparisons are the period settings, central female protagonists and an “epic” or “saga” form of narrative that spans decades and is multi- generational.
You write about Coorg. How much of your childhood experiences do you bring into the narrative?
Tiger Hills is a period novel, beginning in 1878 and there was a significant expanse of canvas that had to be painted in colors not of my experience. Still, Coorg is so much a part of me that it was an easy backdrop to recreate. I could write lovingly about the place all day long (or all night, as was the case with Tiger Hills!). It is the cornerstone of my childhood memories – balmy summer afternoons spent roaming the fields and backwaters, lazy mornings in the shade of the coffee bushes, watching the sun set behind the jackfruit trees and listening to the crickets come alive at dusk.
Your day job as a finance professional and making time to write must have been difficult. How long did it take you to research and write the novel?
Tiger Hills was five years and counting in the making. It wasn’t an easy time – there were days when I seriously questioned my sanity for taking this on. While there is a degree of poetic licence at work in Tiger Hills, I wanted to get the historical detail as accurate as possible. That required a significant amount of research. I spoke with a great grand aunt who was well into her nineties, tilling her memories of a Coorg well before my time. I spent hours at the New York Public Library reading memoirs from that period, volume after dry volume of the Gazetteer of Mysore, and accounts of coffee planting in the 1800s. I was lucky to have a rich fount of Coorg folklore and tradition in the Pattola Palame, an English translation of old Coorg folksongs, proverbs and customs - this latter proved invaluable in recreating Coorg from a 150 years ago. I wrote whenever I had the time – typically late into the nights and on the weekends when I wasn’t working. I slept very little and am still a recovering insomniac as a result – there is at least one night a month where no matter what, I am unable to sleep at all.
Tiger Hills is about unfulfilled love, Devi's and Machu's and Devanna's love too for Devi. What would you like the reader to take away from the novel?
To my mind, the unfulfilled love stories in Tiger Hills are an instance of a larger theme – what happens when life doesn’t go your way. What do you do when your dreams do not come true? We are often placed in circumstances not of our choosing, but I believe that we still have a choice when it comes to reacting to those circumstances. Time spent in bitterness and regret is time lost forever. No matter what, we can still choose happiness; we can still find happiness. Happiness different in shape and form than what we had perhaps imagined, but one that is richly veined nonetheless.
Tiger Hills received an unprecedented advance which created a buzz about the book, did that add to the pressure of writing in any way?
I was already done drafting Tiger Hills by then, so there was no added pressure. It was embarrassing, more than anything else, to be suddenly thrust into the spotlight, and to see vastly inflated accounts of the advance I had supposedly received!
Who are your favourite female literary characters, and why?
Jo from the Little Women trilogy – I love her large heartedness. Jane Eyre – quiet, unassuming Jane but with a core inner strength. The Rani of Jhansi – historical Queen yes, and also the literary heroine of the Hindi poem. That line “Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi" gives me gooseflesh. George of the Famous Five – because she was brave and no nonsense and also owned that lovely dog Timmy. Speaking of which, is Lassie allowed? Smart, faithful Lassie?
What are you working on next? Will there be a sequel to the story?
I am in the process of researching something new. It is very different in period and setting from Tiger Hills, and I am poking around the subject, trying to determine if there is enough there to warrant a full blown novel.
Any advice you would like to give aspiring authors?
To borrow from Nike: Just Do It. That story you have clattering about in your head? That wonderful turn of phrase you’ve been saving for your magnum opus? Commit it to words. Start now, not tomorrow or when you are done with this project or that deadline at work. Sit down and write, and write your best. Be honest with yourself – cut what doesn’t work and retain only what truly resonates with you. If all you can manage are a couple of paragraphs a day, that’s fine. Even that small measure of daily output will add up to something significant provided you commit to it. Just Do It
Come on,write to us,make our day!
This, the second novel from counsellor and author Gouri Dange, is a book that is a compilation of stories, the stories of strangers thrown together at a wedding of someone they are not particularly close to, a wedding they have to be present at for the sake of appearances.
A motley crew of people, a retired air force man, a nurse, a professor, a young boy, a disgraced news anchor, a voice over artist, move out of the wedding celebrations to a viewing gallery at a little distance, where inhibitions are dropped and stories about their lives get shared. Readers might find parallels in the recent book by Chitra Banerje Divakaruni, One Amazing Thing, where earthquake survivors trapped in a collapsed building, tell each other the one amazing thing in their lives which had changed things around for them. Or of Rana Dasgupta's Tokyo Cancelled, where a wait at an airport terminal becomes a fantastical voyage of magic realism. Or even still, the epic Chaucerian Canterbury Tales, written way back in the 14th Century, where a pilgrimage to Canterbury by an assorted lot of people of the age, leads them all to narrate their individual stories as a way to pass the time. But where Dange's narrative differs is at the end, where all her story tellers find their individual resolutions.
As the strangers thrown together come out with their stories, we learn of love that was forbidden because the lovers were considered old, and therefore didn’t have the right to fall in love, of a child who is forced to overcompensate for the delinquency of his older brother and be the good boy, of a nurse, stifled and suffocated by the routine of caring for the patients under her charge, the voice over artist with a failed marriage behind her, and an attempt at a relationship with an NRI abandoned, a professor who sees with dismay her son getting into popular Bollywood and falling prey to the various isms that govern the film industry and its superstitions.
The novel is crafted in the per chapter one person’s story tradition, with the rest of the motley crew putting in their opinions and perspectives on the story, and the end of the book tying together all the unfinished stories, in the form of emails sent out to the group. Stories are resolved, peace is made with situations, life goes on. The counsel offered to the each other at the end of each chapter has been acted on, strangers have helped put each other’s lives in perspective in a way that one’s immediate friends and family would never have been able to.
This book is the kind of heartwarming book that brings a glow to one’s day with the thought that no matter what the trials and tribulations you face, you are not alone, everyone has their own demons to battle.
Available off the website
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
About The Author: Zig Ziglar is an American author,motivational speaker and a super salesman.
Price: Rs 250 (Indian Edition)
Sunday, July 25, 2010
I am told.)
Read a Q&A with Gouri here !
We are in the process of putting together a guide to the best Indian children’s books…. and we would like to hear from you!
101 Indian Children’s Books We Love seeks suggestions and contributions from children, parents, teachers, grandparents, librarians, resource people and book lovers. If there’s an Indian book that you think is a must-read, this is your chance to tell everyone about it. You can chose up to three titles.
Your entry must include:
All books must be available (in print) in English in India. Translations from other languages into English as well as bi-lingual books can be included. Please note that the books must be published in India - and not imported
The guide will cover books for a wide age range – from baby’s first picture books to young adult fiction – and will include non-fiction and poetry as well as fiction titles. There will be a section for special format books, including Braille, audio books and touch-and-feel. We will not include textbooks. So, pick your favourite book/s and send in your entries to:
The deadline for receiving entries is August 1, 2010.
Friday, July 23, 2010
‘The Obscure Logic of the Heart’ is truly one of the most fine and splendid book that I have read in recent times. The book is so wonderfully written and every character in the book well defined. The story though a bit slow paced manages to keep you engaged till the very end. By the time the book ends you feel sad that the book is over!
‘The Obscure Logic of the Heart’ interleaves two narratives one which is the modern day story of Anil and Lina while the other is a story of an unfulfilled romance between a British woman and a man who she loved but who left her because they belonged to different faiths. The story that runs parallel to the Anil and Lina’s story, though years back, is still so relevant to the choices they make today. Both the stories beautifully and effortlessly merge at the end of the book almost leaving the reader breathless!
The plot is ordinary but Basil’s writing makes the book and the story absolutely extraordinary. This book is a story of love between Lina Merali, who is a Muslim and Anil Mayur a Hindu. Lina comes from a modest background and her parents are devout Muslims living in Birmingham while Anil comes from a very affluent family based in Kenya. Their worlds are far apart from each other but their love is so strong that they believe that they will be able to surpass all troubles that come their way. Lina knowing the opposition that she will face if her parents come to know of her blossoming relationship with Anil, engages in an intricate game of deceit with her parents. While her parents are unaware of the relationship Anil’s parents are supportive. But her parents soon discover her web of lies and they threaten to break off all ties with her if she continues her relationship with Anil. She promises them that she will end the relationship and she would marry a person of their choice. Lina soon moves to New York on an assignment with the UN and despite her pledge to her parents she continues her relationship with Anil. When Anil moves back to Kenya she takes up a posting in Sudan to be closer to Anil. While there, she discovers a few aspects of Anil’s family that make her uncomfortable about the fate of the relationship.
Lina tries her best to maintain a balance between her love for her family and her relationship with Anil. She is afraid that her decision to continue her relationship with Anil could have severe repercussions. Lina’s indecisiveness, her feeling of being a misfit in Anil’s family, her apprehensions is beautifully narrated by the writer. At times you feel sorry for Lina and at times you can’t help but get annoyed with her decisions. On the other hand, you have Anil who is totally supportive of Lina’s choices; he is willing to go to any lengths to keep Lina happy. Anil though he has a few shortcomings, is almost a near perfect partner to have.
What stands apart in the book is when Lina meets her father to request him to accept her relationship with Anil and her father Shareef shares with her a secret he has never shared with anyone. The other poignant moments are when Shareef expresses his inability to accept his daughter’s relationship with a non-Muslim and how it goes against his faith and all that he has believed in. Basil manages to portray such a touching father daughter relationship that almost moves you to tears.
The two main characters of the story you can absolutely identify with. There are many times when you will pause during the book and compare the situation with your own experiences. You come across many people in your life but then there are some you instantly connect with. You just know that those are the people who are capable of changing the course of your life. Some stay with you and some move on but not before leaving an impression in your life forever.
The book is beautiful and rich in prose, bold and deeply moving. The story is brilliantly narrated. It has characters that you will remember for days to come. A highly recommended book which you must pick up today, if you haven’t already! This book has to be at the top of your to read list!
About the author:
Priya Basil was born in London and grew up in Kenya. Her first novel, Ishq and Mushq, was longlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, The Dylan Thomas Prize for Young Writers and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Priya lives in London and Berlin
Thursday, July 22, 2010
To say that The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is an epic novel wouldn’t be an overstatement. Stories within story, plots within plot, heady concoction of surrealism and dreams, stretching over a time period that encompasses World War II and Japan’s military exploits, and deep exploration of the dark recesses of the human psyche –all these elements combine to make it a fascinating and intoxicating read. Haruki Murakami – Japan’s most famous novelist – packs so much in one book that it looks formidably like a tome but don’t get daunted by its thickness. It’s such an easy read – translated into English from the original Japanese – that you don’t feel at all the intrusion of language in the story that unfolds but at the same time it’s deep and reflective and this is where you need to be careful – the simplicity of the language can be deceptive. Murakami spins his yarn and carves an intricate plot that’s guaranteed to submerge you in it.
It is the story of a young man named Toru who is bored with his mundane life and struggling to save a disintegrating marriage until their cat goes missing. He gets an anonymous phone call and there the story leaps off. Toru finds out that his seemingly mundane life is veiled in the opacity of secretiveness and things are not what they seem to be. His life spins out of control and he feels as if a seemingly implacable power is at the helm of his life. The missing cat triggers a chain of events and soon his wife Kumiko goes missing too for unexplained reasons. He embarks on an epic journey to bring back his wife and more so to return the normalcy and sanity to his life shattered by the whirlwind of bizarre events. Like a river meandering along hills and valleys, unaware and uncertain of the obstacles which may come in its way and obstruct its flow but fully certain of its goal - which it has to reach - Toru’s life hobbles forwards from one journey to the other in a maze of mysteries and bizarreness, in search of his wife Kumiko. In the course, he not only learns more about Kumiko and the people around him, meet an aging war veteran permanently scarred by the hideous things he witnessed during military exploits of Japan, a shady politician who is the embodiment of evil, a psychic woman whose life is equally bizarre and complicated and whose father bears an uncanny resemblance to Toru but also about himself, the unexplored attic of his mind and the deep, dark secrets hidden beneath the veneer of ordinariness.
The novel is on the darker side and explores evil and good, human psyche, fatalism and Japan’s obsession with psychic powers and western culture. Murakami’s knack of exploring the ominous and menacing signs in the innocuous, mundane events in life is dizzying. Tension grips, plots give way and secrets are laid bare as the story lurches towards the climax which is a bit disappointing and also depressing because Murakami poses more questions than he answers, creates more puzzles than he solves and builds more mysteries than he reveals but then this is Murakami’s forte. This is the kind of novel Murakami writes where the reader cannot remain impassive and detached. He compels the reader to do introspection and reflect over their own life and seek the answers. The novel is contemplative, historical and deeply reflective. If you love dark novels with huge dollops of reality, if you want to explore yourself and go on soul-searching then this is the book for you. Go for it.
(This book is reviewed by Ajay Kumar. Ajay, is pursuing engineering and is in the fourth year at IIT, Kharagpur .He blogs at http://ajaykgp.wordpress.com)
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
To own/gift this book, give us a call on 9650-457-457 or simply reply to this email
Monday, July 19, 2010
This fabulous collection of short stories from author T C Boyle is a study on how the perfect short story needs to be crafted. The stories move from California to South America to France, from the here and now, to Napoleanic France and all connect themselves to each other with the primary element of nature being the principal over riding character across all the stories.
In the story, The Unlucky Mother of Aquiles Maldonaldo, we see how a mother can convert even a band of hardened guerrillas who kidnap her in the hope of a ransom from her Venezualan pitcher son by her taking care of them. His much valued pitching arm comes in handy at the end to lob a grenade in order to rescue her from the bandits. In the end, the mother and son realise that ostentatious display of well
The characters in Boyle’s short stories are everyday people, who are just that little bit strange. We see how a tiny lie, in the short story, The Lie, told by a film editor who just cant bear to get into work changes his entire life. Like the film editor, we see a man who conveniently temporarily discards the values and beliefs he holds good just to get close to the person he lusts after in ‘Bulletproof’. The animal instinct of man to survive against all odds is a recurring motif. In “La Conchita, we have a courier man transporting a liver from a donor to a recipient for a transplant, stuck in a mudslide on the Pacific Coast Highway and concentrate on digging out the victims of the slide rather than seek ways to get around the mudslide and deliver the organ to the critical recipient in hospital. His Glock-9 does not come handy in the face of nature’s fury and he is compelled to accept his competitor coming in to transport the liver to its destination. Finally, the story of the title, Wild Child, is the true tale of a jungle child, eventually named Victor, found in Napoleanic France who was brought into civilization and slowly taught how to be part of society. The narrative is a fascinating account of how he might have been taught the culture and mores of the time, and how his instinctive animal side was eventually subdued to so-called normality.The stories are kaleidoscopic, incisive, empathic and occasionally twisted just enough to keep you hooked. Not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination. But a compelling one.
Gouri Dange's latest novel, The Counsel of Strangers will be launched by Tanvi Azmi and Mohan Agashe who will be reading excerpts.
Tthe book is available off the www.omobooks.com site for those of you who are net-inclined, and off amazon and authorhouse for those outside India.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
A bit about the author:
Vishwajyoti Ghosh 's comics are regularly published in various journals and anthologies, both in India and abroad.His recently published work includes contributions in two international anthologies, When Kulbhushan Met Stockli and Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption, and Times New Roman and Countrymen. Delhi Calm is his first solo graphic novel.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
And here is what she wrote about Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's One Amazing Thing.
If you have reviewed any books on your blog and wish to share the link with us, do write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
A Hilarious Hauntings Adventure
By Sonja Chandrachud
Reviewed by Shivani Singh
‘Chalo Chowpatty for some solid Bombay bhel.’
These are the kind of wacky lines you’ll find in this book. So if you want to go on a ride that can beat the spice of Bombay bhel, this is the book for you.
Pearls of Wisdom is a hilarious account of the adventure that breaks loose in the Water World and the Sorcery World created by the author Sonja Chandrachud. The book’s plot and style has the essence of Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series blended to create a captivating and humorous desi fantasy.
In this sequel to the book ‘Potion of Eternity’, the possessor of the Pearls of Wisdom gets the power to rule the capital of the sea world – Poseidon, and all its residing creatures. And that’s what the villains; the dark creatures called ‘The Black Magi’ are intent on stealing to get ultimate power over the Sorcery World. But the Black Magi aren’t the only ones with their eyes set on these powerful pearls. The Serpent King Va Suki, who has a thousand heads, believes that the pearls rightfully belong to the Nagas, and hence he too is another enemy vying for the pearls.
The book centres around the Von D’eth family. When the Pearls of Wisdom are stolen from Drunkula Von D’eth - a vampire who was given the duty to protect them, all hell breaks loose. He is accused of treason, and is set to be executed on the nearest Full Moon. In the meanwhile, the Black Magi have taken the pearls to Va Suki in return for his treasures in the Sea of Secrets. The Sea of Secrets is the most dangerous part of the sea filled with marine creatures intent on biting your head off. When the question arises as to who should be the one to go and retrieve the pearls from the terrifying place where not many make it out alive, it is revealed that Koral (a 13 year old bright and brave water wizard) is destined to go down there, but at a terrible price.
But as if Koral hasn’t got her platter full with the Black Magi in the possession of the pearls and Va Suki on their trail, there enters another potential contender who wants to be crowned with the glory of the coveted pearls. And this is not just any other dark creature or enemy – it’s someone who has betrayed the Von D’eths. Someone who is nearly invincible.
Sonja Chandrachud is exceptionally creative in spinning fantasy, something that is seen in the ranks of J.K. Rowling. Her way with words gives you a delightfully vivid image of what she’s describing, and her language flows freely. I would recommend it to children of the age 10 +, and anyone in search of a thrilling plot.
The climax with which the book ends will leave you wanting more. It’s not a typical happy ending, and it leaves you pondering about where the story can go next. Because Koral had to pay a terrible price, something that will never leave her whole again. And that’s up to you readers to find out!
(Shivani Singh, a student of St Mary's Pune, is an avid reader and a writer in the making.)
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The first thing you notice about Sam Bourne's new book is the statement by Mirror which states he is 'The biggest challenger to Dan Brown's crown'.Sam Bourne, is a pseudonym of Jonathan Freedland,an award winning journalist and broadcaster.He is popularly hailed as Britain's Dan Brown after his first book 'The Righteous Men'.Well is he the answer to Dan Brown?...Well I'll leave that ,to you dear reader, to decide!
The protagonist of the book is Maggie Costello who we first met in Bourne's book 'The Last Testament' as a peace negotiator in the Middle East who is helped in her mission by Uri, her Israeli boyfriend.After failing to bring peace to the region (only if it were that easy to achieve!) and feeling disillusioned ,she is now back in America as a political advisor to President Stephen Baker.She sees him,like the rest of America, as the man to lead the world to a safer and better future.
But soon things start going awry for President Baker as an enemy Vic Forbes surfaces and starts revealing unknown secrets of the President starting with one secret and shortly followed by another.Vic threatens a third revelation which will destroy Baker entirely.But before the third secret is revealed Vic Forbes is found dead.Maggie is called on by the President to help bail him out.What follows is Maggie's (almost) single handed journey to get to the truth.Will the truth end up revealing the real Stephen Baker.Will the new President be able to complete his term in the White House?
The book is, at times, a bit far fetched especially Maggie's almost heroic portrayal,a school friendship gone sour that leads to a revenge so epic and the most far fetched is the group of worldwide bankers who identify potential world leaders (while they are still in school!!) and then go all out to support and help them in becoming one!Of course all this achieved without the person's knowledge!So Baker ends up being one such 'identified' talent.
What is the truth,who is Vic Forbes, why was he murdered and what was the secret that he was about to reveal before he got killed makes this book an exciting page turner.
Inspite of the drawbacks the book manages to keep you hooked till the very last page.If thrillers,political conspiracies interest you then do go ahead and pick up this book!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
'Real Girls Ask Real Questions about Love,Life and everything in between' this pretty much sums up the book 'Body Talk' by Anjali Wason.The book, is the coming of age of Indian Young Adult Literature and works like a girl’s handy book. Whatever questions you may have from sex,bodies,relationships this book attempts to cover it all.
Extensively researched for three years this book features over 400 questions thats girls across India have asked and wanted answers to.In her note to the reader Anjali Wason says 'Over 400 women between the ages of 17 and 25 from across Delhi,Kolkata and Mumbai wanted to participate and talk about their hopes,dreams and anxieties.Together,they painted an enlightening picture of what it means to be a young middle-class woman in today's urban India-A world of gargantuan change'.
The book starts off with very basic questions like Acne (a pain for every teenage girl!) and eating disorders and moves on to periods,orgasm,masturbation,relationships,sex,sexual orientation,STDs,protection,sexual harassment...Yes this book is one comprehensive guide for every girl out there with questions in mind but finds it difficult to ask.The book also has some stories,quizzes and advice from doctors.The most important ,helpful and useful chapter I felt was the resource guide.
This book would probably be the first one of its kind and honest attempt to try and answer all questions that a growing up girl would want answered .A useful self help book many mothers would be grateful for.
The book works excellently as a guide and a friend to all the girls out there from 14 to 30 years!A must have book for every girl.
Friday, July 2, 2010
My dear friend and mentor in many ways - Sarah Hina, has now turned a published author.
My author friends and I are doing everything (Interviews, reviews, contests, etc) to create a buzz about her book - Plum Blossoms In Paris.
As my contribution for the same, I have organised a Flash Fiction writing contest at my site: http://flashfiction.in
Sarah will be picking two winners who would each get a copy of her book - Plum Blossoms In Paris.
Contest deadline is 20th of July.