Tag Archives: PRH India

Read 232 of 2021. The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis by Amitav Ghosh

The Nutmeg's Curse

Title: The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis
Author: Amitav Ghosh
Publisher: Penguin Allen Lane
ISBN: 978-0670095629
Genre: Nonfiction, Environment & Nature, History Pages: 350
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Once again, Amitav Ghosh shows us the mirror. On perhaps every single page. It is really up to us if we want to see it or not. He speaks about climate change with an urgency that is pervasive throughout the book. He doesn’t cut corners and tells it like it is.

The Nutmeg’s Curse begins with how colonialism and imperialism has been responsible for mass exterminations of indigenous communities, of course to serve their own means, whose end is only greed. It then moves on to talk about capitalism being a culprit when it comes to large scale environmental damages leading to the climate change crisis at hand.

Only Amitav Ghosh can trace climate change to the 17th century and make it clear for us how it isn’t much of a recent phenomenon. The book speaks of how the Western world looked at the earth only as a resource giver and not someone with life and maybe that’s why they could never understand nature the way indigenous communities did and continue doing so.

Placing the humble nutmeg at the center of this book, Ghosh explains portrayal of human greed, lust for power, and the convenience with which most people don’t even consider climate change crisis as crisis. They just think it is a matter of slight inconvenience.

The Nutmeg’s Curse takes the reader back and forth – through various centuries, to enable the understanding of what also can be done to perhaps work with the situation. Ghosh’s writing is incisive, comes from a place of great wisdom and perspective, and more than anything else it is urgent. You can almost hear the tone of emergency in his sentences and chapters.

Ghosh through this book and the ones written in the past on the climate is himself trying to search for answers. The Nutmeg’s Curse is real, scary even, but also hopeful at the end of it all.

The Book of Destruction by Anand

Title: The Book of Destruction
Author: Anand
Translated from the Malayalam by Chetana Sachidanandan
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN: 978-0143068464
Genre: Literary fiction, Translated fiction
Pages: 242
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

“The Book of Destruction” by Anand isn’t an easy book to read. I am forewarning you because it is the truth. At the same time, you must read this book according to me, even if it means slaving through the first couple of pages (actually it is a slave-through after the first couple of pages) but do persist and then you will know why you will fall in love with this piece of work.

Anand’s book is about thugs and hashashins (assassins as called in Persian), it is about destruction and murder – right from the medieval times to the world we live in. The book is a three-story episodic narrative – all of them centered on one narrator and a man named Seshadri, with whom it all begins. In one, the narrator knows of the book of destruction and also the fact that he has been selected to kill – in the second a discotheque is bombed and in the third there is a staged orgy to which the narrator is led.

“The Book of Destruction” is essentially on the nature of murder and what drives a human being to kill (very little as a matter of fact). At the same time, I also thought the book was rambling endlessly and out of hand at sometimes, which could’ve easily been cut out. Having said that, Anand’s research is point on and only makes you want to know more about people who exist in the shadows.

Chetana’s translation is spot on and makes you wonder what the original would have read like. I think it happened to me more in case of this book because of its density and detailing. I absolutely enjoyed “The Book of Destruction” and if you are remotely interested in violence in literature, then this is the book for you.

The House that Spoke by Zuni Chopra

Title: The House that Spoke
Author: Zuni Chopra
Publisher: Penguin Books India
ISBN: 9780143427841
Genre: Children’s Books
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the longest time, “The House that spoke” lay on my bookshelf and somehow there was no inclination to pick it up. One of the barriers was that it is written by a teenager and somehow that thought kept becoming an impediment till it did not. Till I picked up the book and finished it over a weekend and enjoyed it a lot at that.

Having said that, “The House that Spoke” also tries to pack in a lot in one book which at times does feel tedious but eventually grows on you. The book is about fourteen-year-old Zoon Razdan who is instantly shown to be witty, intelligent and above-all perceptive. She lives in Kashmir with her mother in a house – which of course is a part of the title. The objects in the house converse with her. She isn’t new to magic. There are forces beyond her control that threaten to take over her life, the house and her beloved Kashmir.

The book has a lot of metaphors given Kashmir’s situation as of today and that is laudable. Zuni is very empathetic in her writing and that shows. I think that perhaps when you are younger you aren’t influenced by all the writing around you. Of course you read a lot but then again, it isn’t what drives your writing. Your experiences do and after reading this book, I think Zuni’s writing comes from a more personal space (as it should). The characters could have been culled out in a more interesting manner but I guess that can be ignored given it is her first book and she is only sixteen (I think). The writing though is powerful and I loved how the narrative of historic fiction was blended in seamlessly. “The House that Spoke” will charm you, move you, and also make you think about what we’ve done to heaven on earth.