Tag Archives: harper collins india

Bedtime Story and Black Tulip by Kiran Nagarkar

Bedtime Story and Black Tulip by Kiran Nagarkar Title: Bedtime Story and Black Tulip
Author: Kiran Nagarkar
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9789351369998
Genre: Drama
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

From the time I have started reading Kiran Nagarkar’s books, I have wanted to read the banned play, “Bedtime Story”. The play was banned when it first released in 1978 by the Shiv Sena and other fundamentalist parties. It has now been republished by Harper Collins India. For me the motive behind reading this book was only “Bedtime Story”. The screenplay “Black Tulip” did not hold much interest and yet when I started on that one as well, I was completely taken in by both – the difference in both is of another extreme but both are highly satisfying on different levels.

“Bedtime Story” is based on the Mahabharata. It also has a modern angle to it which is riveting, real and quite thought-provoking. The premise of course will not change. However, Nagarkar manages to add elements which are so real even today, after thirty-seven years – the issue of caste, women’s rights, the political warfare, the debate of what’s right and what’s wrong, all of it has not changed at all. This just goes to show the society in which we live. We are a regressive lot and the sooner we admit to that, the better it is for all of us. There is then scope for change, I think. Nagarkar’s writing of “Bedtime Story” is so brutal and real that sometimes I just wanted to shy away from it. The truth, when stabbed always hurts a lot more than it normally would.

“Bedtime Story” is delicious. It is snarky, holds a mirror to all hypocrisy and at the same time communicates what it wants to, without being modest or sugar-coating anything. On the other hand “Black Tulip” – a screenplay, starts off a little bland and then picks up pace. A woman renegade, her boyfriend and a cop in her top form battle against terrorism. The action takes place in the city of Bombay, bringing the screenplay to a brilliant end – with two probable endings actually.

I would highly recommend this book to people who want to read something different – something real and also something imaginary. “Bedtime Story and Black Tulip” together are plays of endurance, of class, society, change and battle in one’s mind, heart and soul. A terrific read.

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Epic Retold: #Mahabharata #TwitterFiction #Bhima #140Characters by Chindu Sreedharan

Epic Retold by Chindu Sreedharan Title:Epic Retold: #Mahabharata #TwitterFiction #Bhima #140Characters
Author: Chindu Sreedharan
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9350293951
Genre: Mythology, Fiction
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are now perspectives in mythology. This one’s perspective and that one’s. Maybe as readers we are just too used to such perspectives out in the form of books and what each one has to say about the epics and the lesser-known characters or the more well-known ones. There are different ways and means also to project this – sometimes with illustrations and sometimes through other unique ways of writing. Off late, it is the 140-character stories or through flash-fiction. While I do not read books in the so-called “new formats”, this time around, “Epic Retold: #Mahabharata #TwitterFiction #Bhima #140Characters” by Chindu Sreedharan managed to hold my attention, right from the start to the end.

Initially, the book was difficult to get into. For the life of me, I could not get myself to read a book in the form of tweets with hashtags. It just seemed inappropriate to me. And then as I started turning the pages, I was intrigued and sucked in so to say in the story. The difference in this format is that you as a reader feel that all the action is happening live, in front of you, when of course you know that it has been thousands of years since those events occurred.

Bhima has to me always been a fascinating character. He is strong. He is abled. He is also quite a mush-pot, from what mythology has to depict. At the same time, he is also the one who can snap the neck of an opponent in less than a minute. There is a lot going on with this character from the Mahabharata and yet the only brothers we ever know or speak of are Yudhistar or Arjuna. The other three are almost forgotten, which is not the case when it comes to this book.

Chindu Sreedharan tells the Mahabharata from Bhima’s perspective and through tweets. The book is written in an easy-to-read manner and does not just skim through the details. It might seem that way because of the format, but the format also works for the book because it is not lengthy, nor does it put too much pressure on the reader.

“Epic Retold” may just be one of its kind of book in a format that will work for more books to come. I enjoyed it a lot and if you are looking for a book that is mythological in nature, but with a different spin to it, then I recommend this one. A short read but highly satisfying.

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Bloodline Bandra by Godfrey Joseph Pereira

Bloodline Bandra by Godfrey Joseph Pereira Title: Bloodline Bandra
Author: Godfrey Joseph Pereira
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9789351364429
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 264
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Being a Bombay boy, I could not help but read, “Bloodline Bandra”. I had to read it for the nuances, for the smells, the language, the food, the culture of a subset and to relive Bandra, as it is already dead from what I knew of it, a couple of years ago. “Bloodline Bandra” made it come alive for me in more than one way. Maybe that is why it is so close to me. Maybe that is why every Bombay book is close to me. I do not know about the Mumbai books though. I never bothered reading them anyway, except for Mumbai Fables, which is simply spectacular.

“Bloodline Bandra” is about an entire culture that disappeared somewhere or it was made to disappear given the conditions of the world we live in. Godfrey’s Bandra is a Bandra that exists in most of the old-timers’ minds and hearts. It still breathes and is still there, but hidden. It is the invisible Bandra that we yearn for.

The book is about Catholics, it is about the “Maka-Paos” (as the local Bandra or Bombay colloquialism goes), it is about the Bandraites who left home and went away and are perhaps coming back and most of them do not even want to consider that. David Cabral is a journalist – an East Indian from Pali Village, which is a universe in its own. He wants to get out of this life. He does not want to be there. He is ambitious. He manages to leave Bandra and goes to New York, where he works like a slave for a newspaper, and falls in love with Hatsumi Nakamura, a Japanese cello student. David yearns for home and will never admit it. He wants to be there and yet soldiers on in an alien country.

“Bloodline Bandra” is about a dying community. It is about being hopeful amidst the craziness of every-day living. The book will speak to anyone and everyone who has felt at home the most and yet wants to run away. The writing sometimes can get a little tiresome, given the language but in a very strange way, that is what makes the reader turn the pages quite effortlessly. The characters are eccentric, real, and one can spot them all in Pali Village. All I can say is that you need to go to Bandra and then to Pali Village once you are done with the book. Breathe the place. Take all its sensations inside you and then go back and read this book all over again. It will make a whole lot of sense.

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387 Short Stories : Day 293 : New and Second-Hand by Altaf Tyrewala

Engglishhh by Altaf Tyrewala

Today started with missing home, which I do almost every single day. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of Bombay. Not a day goes by when I do think about the sea. And not to forget all the places where I shopped for books and soaked myself in those places.

Today’s story, “New and Second-Hand” by Altaf Tyrewala just brought back those memories – of school and college, when I would scrounge the streets for great literature and not to forget the very famous store, “New and Second-Hand Book Store” at Dhobi Talao (after which this story is named and dedicated to) which shut in 2011.

“New and Second-Hand” is a story of decline of a bookstore. It is the decline of literature and it is most vividly and bitingly told by Tyrewala. The language hits the spot. He speaks of a time gone by and that which is slowly declining. For me, growing up and being a Bombay boy meant to a large extent books being sold on pavements and those shops that one went to every weekend. The story is of a bookstore owner and how he knows that it is all going to end, given the times he lives in. He is bitter, lonely and loves books (contrary to what he says). He wants a companion and has given up on finding one. He lives in despair in Bombay, waiting for the bookstore to be sold.

The story is brilliantly told and I urge all of you to read it. It is a beautiful ode to the city and the times that were. I could not help but cry.

My favourite parts from the story:

“Reading used to be a step away from renunciation. Now it is another excuse to pick up unattractive lovers.”

“Such are the incidental joys of browsing. It takes a particular sort of personality to delight in the unexpected find, to take relish in stumbling upon something while seeking something else. I am sad to report that such a personality, receptive to serendipity, is now on the wane.”

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Aspyrus by Appupen

Aspyrus by Appupen Title: Aspyrus
Author: Appupen
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9789351365884
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 168
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I love graphic novels. They are something else like I have always maintained. There is something about them that takes your imagination riding, even though it is all there in front of you. It is saying what it has to and yet it is not. Appupen’s graphic novels are different. There are many layers to it (at least for me) and one has to reread and reread the novel to make sense of it.

Aspyrus - Image 1

“Aspyrus” is the sequel to “Legends of Halahala”. Actually it is the third part in the series, the first being, “Moonward”. It is a silent graphic novel, with only images for most part of it. The first part was the setting of Halahala. Then came the absurdities of the land in the second book. The third book, “Aspyrus” is about dreams and a dragon-monster who controls the world through the dreams people create and symbolism against consumerism and where it is headed. It is about a dystopian vision of the world, through images and how Aspyrus rules and dominates the world of Halahala.

Aspyrus - Image 2

The book is about dreams and longing and desire and how individuals succumb to them. It is allegorical in nature and like I mentioned, I had to read it again and reread it to get a sense of it. The artwork is spectacular, the blues and the greys add to the atmosphere, the subtle puns in almost every frame lend to the much-needed wit and sarcasm. The illustrations are just right. The plot is perfect. The only problem I had (which got sorted with re-readings) was initially to make sense of the book. I recommend that you read these three in order, to make sense of the wonderful world that Appupen has created for readers. I can only now wait for the next instalment.

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The Americans by Chitra Viraraghavan

The Americans by Chitra Viraraghavan Title: The Americans
Author: Chitra Viraraghavan
Publisher: 4th Estate
ISBN: 9789351362593
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

A lot has been written on the migrant experience. It has been written from various points of view. Sometimes, it is a man’s voice and sometimes it is a woman’s voice, journey and careening their way through an unknown land. I have also managed to read quite a few books on the topic. So when I picked up, “The Americans” by Chitra Viraraghavan, I was apprehensive. However, one hundred pages into the book and I could not stop reading it.

“The Americans” is about different people and how their stories merge together, at a point in the United States of America. This is what I loved about the book – the entire concept of six degrees of separation and how it was rolled in beautifully in the narrative.

There is an old man trying to find his way in a new land, on a vacation albeit. There is Tara, a single woman who visits America to look after her niece, as her sister is struggling with other issues. There are eight other stories that merge with these two and to me that was the highlight of the book. I am also somehow fond of books with short chapters and this one was written in that manner, which made me cry: Hurrah!

Viraraghavan has an acute sense of surrounding and nature to her writing. The book is set in 2005 and one can see that she knows America inside-out as she of course studied there and that has definitely helped in the research of the book.

The writing is lucid and heart-warming in most places. For me, what worked the most were the journal entries (or so they seemed) of books read by a teenager and her view of the American life. “The Americans” is a thought-provoking book on what it means to cross borders – physically and emotionally and sometimes what it takes to perhaps not cross them.

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The World of Oliver Jeffers

How to Catch A Star

I just discovered the world of Oliver Jeffers and I can tell you with assurance that this is a world you would not want to get out of, once you get in that is. I have read eight books in the past two days – I agree that they are picture books, but they are books nonetheless and they have this immense power to transport you to another world or perhaps more than world – with their simple storytelling and illustrations.

Oliver Jeffers’ books have this touch of fantasy and reality attached to them. It is almost like he makes you see what he wants to, without letting go of the innocence element. And according to me, perhaps adults have a lot more to learn from his books – about the nature of being a child again than children themselves do.

The book I started with was, “How to Catch a Star” – an endearing tale of a boy who wants his own star by his side and guess what! He actually manages to get one. How does he do that? Well, you have to find that out for yourself. I could not stop smiling at the end of this book. This is what Jeffers’ books do to you – they make you smile and that is enough, sometimes more than enough.

Lost and Found

The second one which I lapped right after this was, “Lost and Found” – a story of an unlikely friendship between a boy and a penguin. This is about how friendships are forged in the most unlikely places and how sometimes you just have to do what you have to, to make them work. Another picture book (well with text as well) to warm the soul.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy

“The Incredible Book Eating Boy” is for all readers and the non-readers as well. It is delightful. It is adorable and it is about books and a boy who eats them and what eventually happens to him. This for the most obvious reasons has to be my favourite of all the eight books.

The Heart and the Bottl The fourth and the fifth then were, “The Heart and the Bottle” and “This Moose Belongs to Me” – both uncannily about letting go and finding love in places, one did not expect to. These books mind you are for kids and that is just fantastic about them – they teach without being preachy and at the same time, your child and you (hopefully) will appreciate the illustrations and stories that Oliver has to tell.

This Moose Belong to Me

The sixth book which I read was, “Stuck” – a story about a boy and his kite which is stuck in the tree and what he does to get it back. It is hilarious, fantastical and almost a laugh-out loud book. Oliver Jeffers has this quality to him – his books can make a dull day all bright and happy and that should be reason enough to read them.


The seventh book which was a treat was, “The Way Back Home” – self-reflective of the title, a friendship on the moon between a boy and an alien and the need to go back home for both of them and how they manage that. The universal theme of home made me yearn for my own. It was simply beautiful.

The Way Back Home

Last but not the least (he has for sure written more and I cannot wait to get my hands on all of them) was “Up and Down” – the continuation of the story of the boy and the penguin in “Lost and Found” another adorable story, well told.

Up and Down

Oliver Jeffers’ books can be read anytime – over and over again. I most certainly will. Like I said, it just warms the soul. The illustrations are just perfect and so are the stories – meant for all. It just makes you see the child within you which is so needed in times such as these.

And what I found is even better: A trailer for the movie Lost and Found. Can’t wait to watch the movie now.

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