Tag Archives: Various

The Book of Indian Kings: Stories & Essays

The Book of Indian Kings Title: The Book of Indian Kings: Stories & Essays
Author: Various
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
ISBN: 978-8194365709
Genre: Anthology
Pages: 128
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I love what Aleph Book Company publishes. Their books are unique and well-crafted. I mean I have so far enjoyed most of their books, so its but natural that I enjoyed the latest in their Olio series. Olio which means a miscellaneous collection of things, just like this series. Each book in this series is carefully curated and edited. From stories of love and lust, to the essence of Delhi, and now The Book of Indian Kings.

What I loved about this collection is that it somewhat may encourage first-time readers of these authors to go and explore more of their works. I think that should be the objective of any anthology in that sense, and it works.

The Book of Indian Kings is a fascinating collection of stories and essays, each with a different touch of hand, and sensibilities. From Manu S. Pillai talking about Krishnadeva Raya to Romila Thapar’s brilliant essay on Mauryan India, to Salman Rushdie’s story The Shelter of the World that appeared first in The New Yorker in 2008 and is ever so playful and magical. Each story and essay is carefully included – it isn’t just about the kings, but how they were – their personal lives, their kingdoms, their victories and losses.

This book needs to be savoured in the sense of reading one piece perhaps a day or finish in about three days or so. What does tend to happen though is the setting of a sense of boredom, but that quickly vanishes, if you jump from one story or essay to another, rather than read them in order.

The writing is lucid. The book is short and to the point. Not a single piece to me stuck out as a sore thumb, which says a lot about a collection. Read it over a weekend or so. You will definitely not be disappointed.

Longform: Volume 1: An Anthology of Graphic Narratives. Edited by Sarbajit Sen, Debkumar Mitra, Sekhar Mukherjee and Pinaki De.

Longform Volume 1 Title: Longform Volume 1: An Anthology of Graphic Narratives
Edited by Sarbajit Sen, Debkumar Mitra, Sekhar Mukherjee and Pinaki De
Publisher: HarperCollins India
ISBN: 978-9352775972
Genre: Graphic Novel, Graphic Anthology
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

Graphic novel love began way back for me, in about 2006, I think. Landmark at Infiniti Mall, Andheri had just opened. My friend N and I used to love meeting there (for obvious reasons, of course) and before we knew we used to finish reading graphic novels, right there. We would buy them as well. After all, we knew what it was like for authors to not make money. That was then. I also vividly remember my first graphic novel – read in 2004 (yeah, at that time I did not know it was called a graphic novel), called “Maus”. I also think “Maus” is like the initiation to graphic novels. Either that or “Persepolis”. And today, graphic novels are the rage. Easier to read, linger in your memories a lot longer and a popular genre by far in the country.

“Longform: Volume 1” is a fantastic anthology of graphic narratives. I honestly do not even know where to start praising it. I am not saying this because I love HarperCollins books. I say this, because, after PAO, published by Penguin India, this is the second of its kind anthology in the country – which readers so deserve and want and there should be more of such anthologies. While “PAO” focused mainly on Indian artists and storytellers, “Longform” takes it a step further to involve artists from all parts of the world, thereby providing the reader with a stunning word and image experience.

It was very difficult for me to consolidate my thoughts for this review. Where does one begin talking about a book this diverse? Or should one even attempt? Well, one must do what one should and what one can I suppose. From the legendary (rarely) to the mythical, to the political to the romantic, “Longform” touches on almost every single genre and within that, there is a world of other art forms that seem to be born. Whether it is just simple line drawing or the more complex art form, the reader cannot choose what to focus on – the art or the story. Everything then matters in the grand scheme of the book that you hold in your hand.

“Longform” also doesn’t restrict itself to the graphic form alone. While it is majorly only that, there are also snippets of interviews, back stories of artists and authors and the ideation process as well, which of course, only adds to the magnificence of the book. I also am not mentioning any pieces in particular, because I honestly would love readers and graphic form enthusiasts to be intrigued a little more about this book, go out and pick it up, nestle in your favourite reading spot and devour it cover to cover, only to start all over again.


Book Review: PAO – The Anthology of Comics 1

Title: PAO – The Anthology of Comics 1
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN: 978-0-143-41768-2
Genre: Graphic Fiction
Pages: 299
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Graphic Fiction is always a must-read. More so if it is based in your country. You somehow then can relate to everything it has to offer – from sarcasm to the country’s landscape to the nuances known only to another Indian. When you tell these stories through graphic fiction, it becomes even more interesting and that’s what PAO – The Anthology of Comics 1, published by Penguin India is all about.

There are all elements in these beautifully crafted 12 graphic stories by well-known illustrators and storytellers and some just surfacing on the scene. PAO is collaboration between graphic novelists Amitabh Kumar, Sarnath Banerjee, Orijit Sen, Vishwajyoti Ghosh and Parismita Singh. They have selected the 12 stories featured in this anthology and each one is stylistically distinct and unique from the other.

I remember waiting eagerly to read this one. I am a great lover of Graphic Fiction and have enjoyed Sarnath Banerjee and Amruta Patil’s (who surprisingly doesn’t feature here) works. Honestly these two were the only Indian Graphic novelists who came to my mind before reading this book. Today however, I know of a lot more comic fiction writers.

The collection starts off with a simple story and yet defining the way our society thinks and works today through “Tattoo” – cleverly written and illustrated by Jacob Weinstein and Lakshmi Indrasimhan. The second story is, “Plasmoids”, written by Samit Basu and illustrated beautifully by Orijit Sen, about alien life on earth and one of my personal favourites in the collection.

The idea of visual language is something which is picking up like none other form of communication, not only internationally but also in India. There is a lot going around in the world and maybe that is where from these storytellers get their ideas. For instance, “The Pink” by Salil Chaturvedi and Priya Kuriyan speaks of alienation in our society and what it means to be accepted when you are different or feel different. PAO centers on a lot of themes – from individuality to pre-liberalization India to religion to Hindus and Offal which is a sarcastic take on what we eat by Ambarish Satwik and Pia Alize Hazarika.

My most favourite story in the collection has to be, “Helmetman in Zamzamabad” by Raj Comics and Amitabh Kumar. It is reminiscent of a 70’s movie – thriller and drama rolled into one. It had everything that can make the story extend itself and it will. I am sure it will be a full-length graphic novel.

For me this collection would have been complete, had Amruta Patil been included but having said that, this collection is definitely a page-turner. It doesn’t take long to finish this book, considering the length of the stories and the fact that they are in graphic format. At the same time, the reader will probably re-read some of the stories (like I did) and ponder over them long after the book has been finished with. PAO is a first step to more anthologies like this one and it is time for us to be introduced to more intelligent and interesting graphic fiction.

You can buy the book from HomeShop18 here