Tag Archives: sarnath banerjee

5 picture books and graphic novels read in January 2016

Whenever I read picture books or graphic novels there is warmth that travels through the entire being and reaches the heart. It is the most satisfying feeling for which I have no words. I really don’t. Picture books make me feel hopeful again. Every single time and it is as easy as that – pick up a picture book with words or without words and see the magic unfold. You’d be surprised. So over the past couple of days, these are some of the picture books and graphic novels I have read and thoroughly enjoyed them.

V is for Vulnerable by Seth Godin:

This is a must-read for all grownups. It is the alphabet for grownups who are too scared to take chances. It is about life-situations and how we get when faced by them and what it really means to live life outside the comfort zone.

V is for Vulnerable

Seth Godin is brutally honest and says it the way he sees it and it is a book that I cannot stop recommending it to everyone. The illustrations by Hugh Macleod are something else. A must read.

V is for Vulnerable - Image 1

Once upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers:

Another brilliant book of the alphabet, once again seen differently by the brilliant Oliver Jeffers. These are short stories (at times interconnected) for every letter, so you get 26 short stories in all.

Once upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

Why did I like this book? It is quirky, it is funny and more than anything else it leaves a smile on your face. The stories are also dark which I think is alright, because it is okay to be read by children as well. It is more in the vein of Lemony Snicket and a treat for all ages.

Madame Eiffel by Alice Briere-Haquet & CSIL

There is no way that you will not enjoy this book. Everyone will. Everyone who reads it will and that is just my guarantee on this one.

Madame Eiffel

It is a love story of how the Eiffel tower was made. I don’t know if it is a true story or not but it is something you must read just for the illustrations and the story. I read it thrice and I know I will read it some more times.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

A graphic novel of epic proportions, I would say. Why? Because it is all about early earth – mmythological, a love story and more so a story of finding your roots and your missing self.

An Encyclopedia of Early Earth

This is a must graphic novel read in my opinion. The kind you will not regret at all.

All Quiet in Vikaspuri by Sarnath Banerjee

The pioneer of the graphic novel in India is back after a hiatus of four years and it is worth it every single day and minute that he was away. “All Quiet in Vikaspuri” is a treat for the mind and the eyes.

All Quiet in Vikaspuri by Sarnath Banerjee

It is almost the near-future. There are water wars in Delhi and a man is sent to find the mythical Saraswati. There is so much more happening in this graphic novel that it deserves its own review, which I will post soon.For now this is it.

Book Review: The Harappa Files by Sarnath Banerjee

Title: The Harappa Files
Author: Sarnath Banerjee
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9789350290316
Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
PP: 214 pages
Price: Rs. 499
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

From Corridor to The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers, I have loved Sarnath Banerjee’s writing. The bite in the humour is enough to crack you up and at the same time contemplate on the condition of things around you and he manages to evoke those feelings without trying too hard. All of this while presenting his works in the graphic form. So it is no surprise that I would highly recommend, “The Harappa Files” to anyone who reads or cares to read books.

“The Harappa Files” is an unusual piece of work (like the other two written by him) and it chronicles India of the 80’s and how somehow India is still stuck there – right where we thought we had developed from. These forty-one short vignettes not only represent a rude slice-of-life, they also cut across strata and class, reflecting society in all its fragmented and disconnected sense.

The Harappa Commission is set up by the dodgiest of various professionals from different strata of the society who come together to compile the societal concerns in the form of a graphic novel and in the introduction, hire the services of the author. While it is as simple as it looks, well it isn’t that simple anyway. The layers are hidden and somehow the reader is left wanting for more. The pieces individually collected are brilliant – from the terrible traffic jams to how Lifebuoy is the soap of the common man to masculinity to sugar as a luxury commodity – just about a commentary on everything of and about the society.

The illustrations are simple and not complex. They read more like illustrations with text (that was the idea anyway I am guessing) rather than a graphic novel. There is supposed to be a sequel to this one – as this one is only Volume 1. I for one cannot wait for an absurd sequel. Read it if you want a good laugh, fifteen minutes is the reading time and an hour of contemplation.

You can purchase the book here on Flipkart

Excess: The Tehelka Book of Short Stories

A good short story is like a mirror. It tells you about the person’s soul when looked into it. That’s what I believe about short stories. I love reading them and always have. Right from “The Dead” by James Joyce to Gogol’s “The Overcoat” to “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote – each has left its own mark on my mind and memory. Short stories need to build that instant connection with the reader, as they do not have the luxury which novels do – that of time, and therefore they need to be packed with punch, the pizzazz that should be led to when you read that 4-page short story and most writers cannot manage that. Not especially when they are used to writing novels.

This is when Hachette comes out with Excess: The Tehelka Book of Short Stories, edited by Jai Arjun Singh and Nisha Susan. The book follows the theme of “Excess” – more, intense, raw, over the top, lots happening, lots which cannot be understood – the string of abundance. The excesses revolve around imaginary tales, poverty, happiness, fear, childhood memories, betrayal, passion and sometimes heartbreak.

The stories in this anthology are complex. They will not be easy to read. They are difficult to follow and comprehend at times and yet by the time you have reached the end, you want to know more. There is the yearning of wanting to get more out of the story and I guess that’s a true hallmark of a great short story.

The writers are varied – from Altaf Tyrewala to Amruta Patil (after reading Kari, I wanted more out of this one for sure), Kalpish Ratna, Rana Dasgupta (Read Tokyo Cancelled to understand the magic he weaves), to the ever popular Ruskin Bond, Tishani Doshi (this was way before The Pleasure Seekers came to the scene), Mridula Koshy (read her poems), Manjula Padmanabhan, Rajoshri Chakraborti, Sarnath Banerjee, Sudeep Chakravarti, Sunetra Gupta and Vivek Narayanan.

The stories are spectacularly written – from a Vampire let loose on the streets of the Capital, to a South Indian Family in Africa trying to find their lost faith, to my favorite story of people giving up and leaving a nameless city only to realize that they will only be complete in the city and with their loved ones.

The reader is taken by surprise and shock both at the same time. The stories are potent enough and prick the skin and want to get deep within. Let them. Let the decadency begin. Indulge dear Reader!!

Excess: The “Tehelka” Book of Short Stories: Edited by Jai Arjun Singh and Nisha Susan. Hachette. Pages 192. Rs 250.