Monthly Archives: August 2013

2000 Books You Must Read: 2. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

This is almost a rare gem. Why do I say that? Because I really believe that when it comes to language and writing style, very few books can surpass this one. “The Man Who Loved Children” by Christina Stead is one of those books which will haunt you long after you have finished reading it.

The book is about a large family – almost close to nine people (including the parents) and the parents living their lives through their children. Sam and Henny Pollit hate each other as a couple, and have too many children and too less money to take care of them. While Sam lives vicariously through his children and gets them to feed his ego, Henny watches silently, knowing that the end will be disastrous.

That in short is the plot of the book. What makes it so unique that I recommend it? The plot and the story and the characters crawl through the readers’ skin. It is darkness personified. You cannot help but think of it and at some point, it drove me crazy trying to figure the behaviour and actions of some characters. The degradation of a family is so stark and obvious that your heart goes out to them and yet you cannot do anything at all. It is a brilliant portrayal of a family that has lost its bearings and does not know what to do. The book may not be meant for all but do read it if a dark family story interests you.

Here are some quotes from it:

“Life is nothing but rags and tags and filthy rags at that. Why was I ever born?”

“ men call it the tyranny of tears, it is an iron tyranny- no man could be so cruel, so devishlish,as a woman with her weakness, recrimination, convenient ailments, nerves and tears. We men are all weak as water before the primitive devices of Eve. I was patient at first, many years. ‘ ”

Affiliate Link:

Buy The Man Who Loved Children from Flipkart.com

Advertisements

2000 Books You Must Read: 1. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

The idea just happened to me. Out of nowhere. List making is something I love. It is something I cannot live without and no better list/s to make than that of books. Books you have loved and cherished over the years. Books that take you to a different land and transport you to places that you begin to call your own. Characters who make you laugh, cry and live a lot more than you would have thought of. Life in almost 2000 books and more.

So here is my first recommendation, which I think you will love. I hope you do. Every day, I will try introducing you to new writers and books I have loved over the years. Happy Reading!

The English Patient
Michael Ondaatje
Bloomsbury India
ISBN: 978-0747572596
Pages: 336
Genre: Literary Fiction, Love, War, WWII
Rating: 10/10

The English Patient - 1

The English Patient - 2

The English Patient - 3

I have three copies of this book. In almost all possible covers. There are more I am sure, which I might own at some time. There is something about “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje that makes me want to talk about it and tell the whole world to read it. It is that good. Let me rephrase that. It is that brilliant. I cry every time I read it. Not because it is tragic (well that too) but the way it tells you about love and life. It almost will make you believe in love, all over again. Very few books are able to do that and this to me is on the top of the list. (This list is not by grade or rank though. It is very random).

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje is about three fractured souls, lost in a villa towards the last days of WWII and how they find themselves through an unknown mysterious patient, who is assumed to be English. Hana, a grieving Canadian nurse with a past of her own, the one which is closely linked to Caravaggio, the thief. There is also a Sikh sapper, Kip, who becomes a pillar for Hana and midst all this is the life of the patient, which he once shared with the love of his life.

Everything is fluid in this book. It is almost dream-like and guilt and anger that seethe beneath the story of love and war. Ondaatje uncovers every single emotion and dissects it like an expert – he makes it possible for the reader to feel. It is almost as if he is a writer, with the soul of a poet. The sentences are magnificent. The words are like none other – something you cannot let go of. The book will demand that you reread it and perhaps you will. This is my fourth time by the way.

Here are some wonderful quotes from it:

“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead.”

“A postcard. Neat handwriting fills the rectangle.

Half my days I cannot bear to touch you.

The rest of my time I feel like it doesn’t matter if I will ever see you again. It isn’t the morality, it’s how much you can bear.

No date. No name attached.”

“I believe this. When we meet those we fall in love with, there is an aspect of our spirit that is historian, a bit of a pedant who reminisces or remembers a meeting when the other has passed by innocently…but all parts of the body must be ready for the other, all atoms must jump in one direction for desire to occur.”

“From this point on, she whispered, we will either find or lose our souls.”

Affiliate Link:

Buy The English Patient from Flipkart.com

Top 20 Favourite Books of Nadeem Aslam

I have loved and enjoyed reading Nadeem Aslam’s books. I have always been curious as to what authors read and what compels them to perhaps classify what they read as their favourite reads over time. With this, I start this series with Nadeem Aslam’s favourite 20 books published within his lifetime, each of which he has read at least twice.

The list is amazing and might I add extremely compelling. You would want to pick up each book and read it at least once. Here goes the list. From here on, every word and emotion is that of Nadeem Aslam’s. Thank you Nadeem for this list.

1982 – Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

In just over 100 pages Marquez tells us everything about men, women, love, hatred, corruption and fate. It includes the great line: ‘Life resembles bad literature.’ After Jude the Obscure it is quite possibly the most despairing novel I know. And it is brilliant.

Buy Chronicle of a Death Foretold from Flipkart.com

1986 – An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

An Artist of the Floating World

An old man looks back over his life – and Ishiguro builds up an indelible picture of his fears and anxieties through everyday conversations with his daughters, grandson, people in the neighbourhood. There is very little description and yet you imagine each scene vividly.

Buy An Artist of The Floating World from Flipkart.com

1987 – The Enigma of Arrival by VS Naipaul

The Enigma of Arrival

A book full of long rich sentences that recall Proust, and anticipate Sebald. It made me look deeply at the English countryside I live in. I believe mercy is greater than justice; and so I do not agree with Naipaul’s political outlook, but having read everything he has ever published I think this is one of his enduring works.

Buy THE ENIGMA OF ARRIVAL from Flipkart.com

1987 – Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Love in the Time of Cholera

A story about love and other diseases of the flesh. A book full of nouns – river, parrot, ship, almonds… This is the master at the height of his powers, naming the world into being. Everything Marquez touches becomes magical: if he were to remove the frame from around a mirror, the mirror would most certainly flow down the wall like water.

Buy Love in the Time of Cholera from Flipkart.com

1987 – Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved

There are subjects on which the world maintains a silence closely resembling sin. Beloved speaks about one such sin. It is a terrifying book, and yet it makes rapturous eloquent use of the sky and land and tree and food and clothing. Beyond everything else it’s a book about how people talk: the dialogue is musical, elastic, by turns funny and serious. Dazzling.

Buy Beloved from Flipkart.com

1988 – The Collected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz

The Collected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz

In any crisis I turn to Milosz. What to do when you have to accept a savage emotional wound? Where to find the courage to trust another human being after betrayal? When you want to know how you deserve such a fate? Milosz’s verses address something that remains mysteriously inconsolable within me.

Buy New and Collected Poems

1990 – Omeros by Derek Walcott

Omeros

Walcott – one of the greatest poets in the English language – relocates Homer to the Caribbean, because the past belongs not just to those who created it – it belongs to everyone, everywhere. So the Greek heroes become poor fishermen and Helen is a servant girl. It is profound, beautiful and endlessly inventive. It’ll even break your heart.

Buy Omeros from Flipkart.com

1992 – The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

The English Patient

The first 120 pages of this book are the holiest pages I know – prose whose beauty eases the poverty of the world; startling images; and characters you care about like your family. The book speaks of love and lovelessness, about the acceptance of loss, and how compared with love almost everything in life is easy.

Buy The English Patient from Flipkart.com

1993 – All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
1994 – The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy

The Border Trilogy

Most people behave badly because they ask too little of themselves. In these books McCarthy – who is one of my great loves – writes about very young men hurled into unknown landscapes, a world frequently absent of radiance. They survive or they die – but they hold onto their integrity, because only the gentle are ever really strong. And McCarthy’s prose is the closest thing I know to an electric shock. It is energy made visible; what Saul Bellow called ‘life giving and death dealing sentences.’

Buy All the Pretty Horses from Flipkart.com

1995 – Sabbath’s Theatre by Philip Roth

Sabbath's Theater

From the first sentence on this is a funny, serious, and frightening book – the story of a man at the end of his tether. Dirty, ugly, fearing the loss of his sexual prowess, Sabbath wanders around New England and New York like Shakespeare ranting at street corners, screaming the song of the land.

1997 – American Pastoral by Philip Roth

American Pastoral

A book about a man whose daughter is a terrorist, and how he tries to hold onto the ideas of justice and dignity when the smell of blood is in the air and it’s the age of prominent madmen. I disagree strongly with the political stance of this book, but as a novel it contains some of the most intense dramatic scenes in recent years.

Buy American Pastoral from Flipkart.com

1997 – Taoos Chaman ki Mynah by Naiyer Masud

Taoos Chaman Ki Myna

A novella from the Urdu master of Lukhnow. A man steals a bird from his employer’s menagerie for his little daughter. This is a hear-quickening tale. I don’t think I understand all of its mysteries but perhaps that is how it should be; if you see a statue of a veiled maiden, you mustn’t try to chisel off the veil in the hope of uncovering the face underneath.

1997 – The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things

The key text about all of India’s yesterdays and todays. It is almost elemental. There are a 100,000 miles of blood vessels in a human body, and every drop of blood in mine is grateful to Arundhati Roy for having written this. By turns sorrowing and ecstatic, it possesses a touch that has a sting of starlight to it.

Buy The God of Small Things from Flipkart.com

1997 – Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

Brokeback Mountain

Not only a painful love story, but also a fierce attack on the economic disparities within the USA. From its astonishing and brilliant first paragraph onwards, Proulx tells us that the two lovers are foredoomed not solely because they are homosexual in an unforgiving landscape, but because that they are poor, men who cannot really afford luxuries like love. The need to make a living and support their families is also what keeps the two men from coming together.

Buy Brokeback Mountain. Annie Proulx from Flipkart.com

2001 – My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

My Name is Red

The greatest book by the one of the very greatest novelists of our time. A murder mystery, a monograph on miniature painting, a love story, a rich and subversive inquiry into the past. Its heroine, Shekure, is one of the best portraits of a woman from the Islamic word that I know.

Buy MY NAME IS RED from Flipkart.com

2004 – Gilead by Marilynne Ronbinson

Gilead

The letter an old priest writes to his very young son, who will not read it until long after the priest is dead. Every single paragraph of this book is full of quiet wisdom – as though a form of music has been found to express silence.

Buy Gilead from Flipkart.com

2004 – An End to Suffering by Pankaj Mishra

An End to Suffering

Pankaj Mishra’s writing is what I turn to first when I need to make sense of the world. And this book is one of the loveliest and most serious meditations on what Buddha brought into the world.

Buy An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World from Flipkart.com

2007 – The Collected Stories of Intizar Hussein

Exactly 50 years’ worth of stories from the Pakistani master. Read sequentially, these stories chart every single social, historical and cultural event Pakistan has been through in the last half century. Magnificent.

2008 – 2666 by Roberto Bolano

2666

The third world novel as it should be written today – post Naipaul, post Marquez. Part 4 of this book alone should ensure Bolano’s place among the immortals. Please read it.

Buy 2666 from Flipkart.com

Online Launch of “Hitched” by Nandini Krishna with Ashwin Sanghi

Arranged Marriage and all that it entails for a Woman. One doesn’t seem to think a lot about it and taken into account of what a woman feels towards it, more so the modern woman.

Nandini Krishna goes all out in her debut book, “Hitched: The Modern Woman and Arranged Marriage” exploring the concept through real-life incidents and snippets which make for some humorous and insightful reading.

With this in mind, Flipkart in association with Random House India launches the book online on the 6th of August 2013, at 3 pm.

Hitched

For more details: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151729967863559&set=a.397237208558.175559.102988293558&type=1

To buy the book: http://www.flipkart.com/hitched-modern-women-arranged-marriage/p/itmdmsbgdznte5bc?pid=9788184003734&otracker=from-search&srno=t_1&query=hitched&ref=65ee6c2b-f03f-4a73-b7fd-6c75e152bcce