Tag Archives: rupa and co

Book Review: Live from London by Parinda Joshi

Title: Live from London
Author: Parinda Joshi
Publisher: Rupa and Co
ISBN: 978-8129118233
Genre: Fiction
Source: Blogadda.com
Rating: 3.5/5

Live from London by Parinda Joshi is a fast read. In 204 pages, the author expresses herself and the plot excellently and that is what is needed in this type of a book. And let me clarify one thing: Live from London is not a chick-lit book. It probably cannot be termed as literary fiction for sure, however it isn’t your run-of-the-mill girl-centric novel, and that is certain.

Live from London is about an aspiring singer Nishi Singh and her struggle to make it big in the music industry. The story is set in London. Nishi has big dreams of becoming a singer through the stage of “Britain’s Got Talent”, where she is humiliated by the judges on account of her performance. The story continues as Nishi is determined on making her mark in the British Music Industry, no matter what it takes.

Along the way readers meet varied characters such as Nick Navjot Chapman – a half Indian, half Canadian singer who oozes oodles of charm and paves the way for Nishi to become a singer. However circumstances land Nishi in India and she has to struggle to keep her dream alive.

My take on the book was that it is a refreshing change from the innumerable books penned by Indian authors on the scene today. This book did make sense to me in some parts and I enjoyed the wit and sarcasm that seeped in at times. Live from London is an easy read. One doesn’t have to think too hard or assimilate a lot of information in order to understand it.

Live from London has a great storyline. At times I felt that the narrative was rushed but that I can overlook if the overall structure is good enough. This book is nonetheless a breezy read if you want a break from the literary fiction genre.

Book Review: Two Worlds by Nandita C. Puri

Title: Two Worlds
Author: Nandita C. Puri
Publisher: Rupa and Co
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9788129117526
PP: 446 pages
Price: Rs. 395
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I love books about women and those that are written by women. They somehow know how to catch the pulse of the emotion and deal with it on various levels in the book/s. So when the good folks at Rupa sent me a copy of Two Worlds and I read the synopsis, I could not wait to read the entire book.

Two Worlds as the title suggests is about two worlds and the two women who inhabit these worlds. It is about Bengal, Bombay and ultimately transitioning to Wales and London. We meet Ela Sen, who at the brink of India’s independence, is burdened with a forbidden love, which she chooses not to abandon much to the society’s chagrin. She is brave and beautiful and chooses to live her life on her own terms and conditions.

Decades later, in post-modern India, we encounter the fiery journalist Oona Roy who again lives her life on her own terms. Oona due to a series of unhappy events decides to know more about the woman of the past who was as unhappy as she is right now. During the course of the finding out she begins to realize things about herself and the people around her, which she never thought she would.

I loved reading this book. It was unlike any other book I had ever read and that is why I found it fresh and appealing. For me it was the characters that I could relate to – the ferocity and the angst and everything in between made perfect sense. The joy and the pain of each character almost seeped through the book and into the reader’s consciousness as a thing film. Nandita Puri sure knows how to write a book and keep her readers engaged till the last page is turned.

Book Review: What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin

Title: What the Body Remembers
Author: Shauna Singh Baldwin
ISBN: 9788129117472
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Rupa and Co. 
PP: 626 pages
Price: Rs. 395
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

The book tells a story which resonates deeply with my own views; being a middle-ground-sort of person in a world that forces people to take sides is tough, especially if you were a woman, and were not afraid to speak out.

Ms. Baldwin’s writing is beautiful; sometimes I paused and re-read a paragraph or a sentence just to admire how she describes things and tells her story. Sentences like, “Afterwards, she can return to her room, moon-shadow crawling like a lowly untouchable along his bungalow walls,” immersed me in the irony of Roop’s situation as the second wife; she was needed and wanted, but received only a “look from the corner of her husband’s eyes,” in return.

The character Sardarji came to me as patriarchy personified. Kind and generous, but for all his education, could never truly understand his wives. His adherence to British education and standards, which caused him to forget the “music of the dilruba” and resulted in his refusal to listen to Satya’s views, was also reminiscent of the rigidity of the patriarchal society.

For most of the book, my favorite character was Satya. She was so strong and fearless. I love how she questioned the gap between the intention of Sikhs to treat women as equals and the reality of women not being valued or treated the same as men. The following passage is such a good example of how Satya’s wishes express the struggle between the reality and her wishes for it:

Surely, there will come a time when just being can bring izzat in return, when a woman will be allowed to choose her owner, when a woman will not be owned, when love will be enough payment for marriage, children or no children, just because her shakti takes shape and walks the world again. What she wants is really that simple.

Towards the end of the book, all of the characters worlds are rocked by the religious divisions between Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims which intensify as the departing British prepare to divide the land into India and Pakistan.

During this period, I especially appreciated the growth in Roop. She goes from being timid to finally finding her voice and having the courage to stand alone. Throughout the book, I really HATED Sardarji. On some level, I could sympathize with is struggle to rise in the British government that was in India. However, I felt so angry with him for how he treated Satya and I did not fully understand or appreciate his need to take a second wife. Towards the end of the book, there is a powerful scene at a train station in which the iciness in my heart for Sardarji began to defrost

Closing the back cover, I cannot help but ponder about the ending. Even though this novel is set in 1937 India, the story rings true with religious disputes everywhere, forcing moderate people to take sides. Watching extreme religious groups enforcing their prejudices and judgments with violence makes me wonder, what would stop the tragedy in this book from happening in my country?

Book Review: The Garden of Solitude by Siddhartha Gigoo

The Garden of Solitude
Author: Siddhartha Gigoo
ISBN: 9788129117182
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Rupa and Co. 
PP: 260 pages
Price: Rs. 195
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

When I received The Garden of Solitude from the publishers, for a long time it sat on my book shelf without being read. I was too engrossed in other books that demanded my attention and would not let me be. That’s what reading and reviewing does to you after a point of time. You just do not know what to read next and what to keep for later. Well that’s the story of my life most of the time when it comes to reading and now to the review of “The Garden of Solitude”.

I was taken in by the book’s title – it is carefully chosen and for sure describes the mood of the book. A lot of books have been written about the Kashmir Situation, so much so that I have almost stopped reading them, till I read this one. The Garden of Solitude is about a Kashmiri Pandit Family driven away from the Valley in the wake of armed insurgency and political turmoil. The family is uprooted and forced to live in Jammu, in the wake of loneliness, suffering alienation and no place to call home. Sridar – the son of the family is the protagonist and the story is seen through his point of view.

What does it take to survive in an unknown territory, when all you have are memories of home? How does it feel to lose someone dear to a situation that you never wanted to be a part of? The entire book is about Sridar wanting the solitude back – the longing for peace and quiet moments that he and his friends have lost along the way.

The topic is touchy and the premise is dangerous, in the sense that it takes a lot to write on a subject like this one. All in all what I can say about the book is that it should be read. The writing is beautiful and the emotions are raw and lucid, to touch every reader who picks it up.

Reflections of an Uncommon Man by Aminuddin Khan

“Reflections of an Uncommon Man” is a roller-coaster ride of a book. Trust me when I say that.  Told in a simple manner and style, the words do not leave you, long after you have finished reading the book. And this I speak out of experience.

What is the book all about?

It is about the search for meaning and truth in our lives, which often is right before us and we fail to see it most of the time. It is about the smaller and the bigger things and events of life. It is but essentially about having a soul.

Afsar Ali Khan is the protagonist of this tale. He is the patriarch and everything of an aristocratic family that goes back several generations. Till the dreaded day when he chances upon a long hidden family secret, which takes him to places he never thought they could.

He meets a variety of people on his way to uncovering the mystery behind the secret – from a man searching for his roots to a young Englishman who is besotted with all things historical. Each of the characters in the book is on his/her path – the path that leads to truth and meaning, as mentioned earlier.

The characters are well-etched and almost lead you to believe their situation and their tales. I for one loved reading this book, not so much for the writing but for the way the story was heading. It kept me up and wanting to know more. A good read for a rainy day.

Reflections of an Uncommon Man; Khan, Aminuddin; Rupa and Co; Rs. 195