Volume 5 www.justbooksclc.com blog.justbooksclc.com
June 2010 For limited circulation A Justbooks Publication
Jaipur Litfest - Free And Fun Pg 4 Deepika Arwind
n the past few years we have seen a rise of the "Literary Festival" as a formal concept, bringing together writers from the world of Indian Writing in English, as well as international authors writing in English. The Jaipur Literary Festival at the Diggi Palace, Jaipur, is one of the most anticipated events for writers, publishers and journalists and of course the people of Jaipur city, as they witness this mammoth five-day event of panels, discussions, music and poetry performances. As India becomes a growing centre for publishing and both book consumers and readers, festivals like the Jaipur Literary Festival become the manifestation of the increasing optimism within the publishing industry as well as the range of Indian (both Indian writers in
regional languages and Indian Writers in English) and International writers who are invited to the event. Held every year, since the past five years, between January 21 and January 25, this Literary Festival could easily be the biggest in Asia, and is host to thousands of visitors from across the country, including students from all over Jaipur -all this owing to the fact the Jaipur Literary festival is free for all, and accommodates as many people as it can over the five days. The Jaipur Literary Festival is designed with the aesthetics of Jaipur - of Rajasthan in general -- in mind and is replete with colour and the motifs from traditional Rajasthani art and architecture. n 2010, the festival saw yet another string of famous writers, including the Nobel Laureate Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka, popularly known as "Wole" Soyinka, who was certainly one of the most sought-after names in this year's edition of the JLF. There was also the paperback hit Chetan Bhagat, who
Author Profile drew scores of students and fans everywhere he went. Among the other writers who were present at the JLF were Alexander McCall Smith, Amit Chaudhuri, Arvind Krishna Mehrothra, Tina Brown, Basharat Peer, Roddy Dyole, Christophe Jafferlot, Claire Tomalin, Devdutt Patnaik, Geoff Dyer, Michael Frayn, Gulzar, Hanif Kureishi and Mahashweta Devi among many, many others. he Festival this time around was on Dalit Writing, and brought together writers and essayists of the Dalit Movement from across the country.
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From the editors desk
o our big fat list of Indian festivals, we can now add one more type of festival - The Literary Festivals. The biggest and loudest of which is the Jaipur Literary Festival. With growing readership in English as well as Indian languages and emerging writing talents, it's not just the international publishing houses that are opening offices in India but international literary festivals are also coming into India. Other Sub continent countries are also not too far behind us. Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Pakistan currently host some of the most popular literary festivals in the sub-continent, while the plans for an Indo-Nepali writers' festival are underway. Though perhaps India hosts the maximum number of literature festivals in the subcontinent because of its sheer size and population. In this edition we share with you the happenings in Diggi palace, Jaipur earlier this year. wo notable events in the literary world that happened this past month, firstly, as many of you will know that one of the classics turned 50 years old. Parties were hosted, scenes re-enacted, and reading and discussion abound among readers throughout the world, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird. A touching story of childhood as well as racial inequalities in the Southern America of 1930's, narrated by a six year-old, this novel has stood the test of time and has never gone out of print. First published in 1960 it won the Pulitzer for its author Ms. Haper Lee. This remains her one and only novel. She never wrote another book and has lived in seclusion since the book attained celebrity status in 1960's. But no one forgot her, the book or Atticus Finch, the central character of To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus till date remains a role model for many readers and a moral compass in the legal world. hat makes a book and a character so revered and loved? Wish we all knew the recipe! It's the magical world of books that entertains us, preaches us, stirs us or morally guides us. And it's this world JustBooks community library chain welcomes you to in your neighbourhood. Secondly, we salute the departed soul of Manohar Malgonkar, one of India's earliest noted English writers. A versatile person, Mr. Malgonkar will be known for his novels on Indian History, army life, Independence and partition as well as for his stories on human relationships. Do send us your feedback on this issue. Also share your views and experiences with other JustBooks members by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy reading, as always! ď Ž
JustBooks Connect - June 2010 contd from pg 1...
n four sessions spread over five days, Dalit writers from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Delhi and Maharashtra shared platforms with non-dalits who have worked on the caste question to debate issues related to identity, literature and representation. Among the sessions were "Outcaste: The Search for Public Conscience" with writers Om Prakash Valmiki, Kancha Ilaiah, P. Sivakami and S. Anand, "Ab Aur Nahin: An End to Suffering" Ajay Navaria and Om Prakash Valmiki in conversation with S.S. Nirupam, and "A Million Suns: A Celebration of Punjabi Dalit Literature" with Desraj Kali, Iqbal Udasi, Nirupama Dutt. In the five-day spread of over 70 sessions in the Diggi Palace sessions/ panel discussions like "Adaptations" with Michael Frayn, Esther Freud, Louis De Bernieres and Rahul Bose, "Tea time for the traditionally built" with Alexander McCall Smith, moderated by William Darlymple, and the "The Road" with Wole Soyinka, moderated by Jasbir Jain, were among some of the highlights. he festival closed with a panel on the future of publishing in India, and with a debate on whether the Indian State had declared war on some of its poorest people in the name of development with Minister of Minority Affairs Salman Kurshid. The evenings at the Jaipur Literature Festival are filled with light music and performances. This year around there were Baul perfomances by Paban Das
and company, Susheela Raman, poetry readings by Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, and a reading of Girish Karnad's Tughlaq with Om Puri. ut the Jaipur Literature Festival is only one among many literary festivals that take place in the country because of its sheer size and range. Regional literary festivals are held all over the country and attract huge audiences, such as "Doon Readings", which focuses primarily on Hindi writing. The Kovalam Lit Fest does both promote Kerala Tourism and bring the year's famed writers to discuss and present the work. Then there is the Kala Ghoda festival in Mumbai, which encompasses art, literature and theatre. What will make 2010 special in terms of the literary festival scene in the country is the Hay Festival, which will premiere in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala this November with 40 leading authors. t can be said that these literary festivals, and the ones that are free, such as the Jaipur Literary Festival, allow a democratic ground for readers and writers to interact in. Readers get an insight into the larger world of writing and publishing. They hear authors articulate their opinions on various aspects of writing in discussions. It is also an opportunity for readers to find books they may have been looking for in bookstores, for all literary festivals typically have book stalls with special editions of books, even those that have gone out of print. ď Ž
JustBooks Connect - June 2010
Time Out: Stories from Punjab
Three Cups of Tea
Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Jasjit Mansingh Srishti Publication
Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin Penguin
his lovely collection of short stories spans a time period from about 1947 to the present day. It provides an insight into the everyday lives of ordinary Punjabi folk. The themes include historical events like the Partition of British India, the siege of the Golden Temple and the ensuing anti-Sikh riots of 1984, as well as the eternal aspects of family life, love and loss. This volume highlights Punjabi writing and writers because it was felt that they are underrepresented in regional literatures in English. Many of the stories in this collection have been translated into English for the first time.
reg Mortenson's passion was climbing and to scale Mount K2 in memory of his sister Christa. In 1992, after a failed attempt to reach K2's summit, he got separated from his team of climbers and ended up in the village of Khorpe in Pakistan. Touched by their affection for a total stranger, and moved by their plight he promised to do something to make a difference. An inspiring biographical account of Mortensen's chance wandering into the village of Khorpe in Pakistan, his empathy for Khorpe's children who lacked a school and how the promise of building one school catapulted into something extraordinary.
Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.
The Girl who kicked the Hornets' Nest
n today's economy, money is no longer a scarce resource. It is human talent that is scarce. Author Geoff Colvin, in his book Talent is Overrated discusses how great talent can be developed in individuals and in organizations. Like many other theories, the perception about great performance has also changed over the years. Backed with research findings, Colvin mentions that people with lots of experiences are not able to perform better than people with very little experience. Occasionally, people get worse with experience. He calls this phenomenon as "Experience Trap". He further discusses why most people fail to achieve greatness at work inspite of spending most of their working hours on it. He challenges the popular belief that people slow down as they age.
he Girl who kicked the Hornets' Nest is the third and final one in the Millennium trilogy. These books were written by Stieg Larsson and published after his untimely death during 2005. All the books fall into the genre of thrillers which constantly cause the readers to pause and think and are set in modern Sweden. These three books have been the publishing sensation for the past three years with critical appreciation accompanied by unprecedented sales all over the world. Unlike the second book which starts more than a year after the first book, the third one starts within an hour of the conclusion of the second one. They could well have been combined into a single book.
The Year of Magical Thinking
Geoff Colvin Penguin
Chinua Achebe Random House
Stieg Larsson Penguin
Joan Didion Harper Collins UK
he Year of Magical Thinking is an legendary writer, novelist, poet and proextraordinary book for the circumfessor of English from Nigeria, Chinua stances in which it was written; Achebe has contributed to modern Didion's skill in living the situation and African and world literature immensely. This winexploring it is laudable. The act of writing to ner of the Man Booker International Prize for make sense of a traumatic event is not unusuFiction in 2007 and many other awards and honal but Didion transforms personal loss into ours in his country and elsewhere, covers a range metaphysical meaning with skill. of subjects in his verses. While some of those about The book is moving and resonant, thoughtwar and death are hard hitting and touching, other ful and tender. Written after the sudden death of her husband, pieces on love and people reveal Achebe's sense of humour and soft John Gregory Dunne, it is a memoir of the best sort-painstakside. Also, many of the poems have an underlying reference to the culingly honest, searching and insightful. Didion's bare and tural and traditional faith and practices of the Igbo tribe that the bard unsparing prose has the power of a naked wound. belongs to. For detailed reviews check out justbooksclc.com
JustBooks Connect - June 2010
The Melody of Life in a Small Town The Silent Raga Ameen Merchant Harper Collins India Dr. Rajeshwari Ghose
he Silent Raga is about a Tamil Brahmin family living in an agraharam within a small town. Agraharams in South India were traditionally reserved residential spaces in a village exclusively for Brahmins. The novel explores a darkly dysfunctional family, in which neatly apportioned mundane chores, well executed, gives it an appearance of respectable functionality. The novel deals with hypocrisy, double standards, patriarchal domination and other such concerns, within an ordered agraharam structure. The book has invoked mixed responses. There are always those who dismiss such works as "written with a western audience in mind" indicating that somehow it is either non authentic or written to the codes of a formula known to succeed in the international market. What amazed me about the novel is that it was written by a man, and by one who was not only not a Brahmin, but not even a Hindu. The story revolves around two sisters, their mother, (who dies in the very early pages of the book) and an aunt. It is a woman's story, told from the perspective mainly of a teenager and later in the
Author Ameen Merchant book of her younger sister. It is astounding to see how the author could penetrate into the inner workings of the minds of these two girls, particularly of the older daughter Janaki who runs away from her small town home with a married Muslim Bollywood actor. There are no perfect choices of action opened to Janaki. She has the choice to conform and enter into a marriage over which she has no control or choose to run away to a future, which will at least fulfill her musical ambitions and hopefully give her a better quality of life. She makes her bed and literally and metaphorically chooses to lie on it. he novel is appealing in the manner in which it presents the daily rituals of a Brahmanic household - the colours, smells, flavours and patterns are portrayed with intricate strokes like the work of an exquisite piece of embroidery. However, when the protagonist of the novel, Janaki, enters the Muslim world, the picture gets hazy and sketchy and that is surprising, since the author himself is a Muslim, who in his own words, was brought up in a Brahmin neighbourhood. To give credit to the author, it must be said that his heroine starts with very little expectations from her marriage, is perfectly prepared to play the second fiddle and from the meager descriptions one can gather, she is also quietly acquiescent in her role as the sexual partner of Asgar. We hear little about her love for her husband or even for her children. One wonders whether it was the deliberate ploy of the author to describe the Brahmanical life in such minutiae while allocating only a few Spartan brush strokes to paint the life in the city of Bombay. That is how possibly he wants us to see it, through Janaki's eyes. For Janaki, life in her agraharam was real even when mixed with
extreme pain, while life in Bombay is a carefully crafted strategy to survive. As for the aunt she is a strong, slightly eccentric character, who while living within the social orbit of the agraharam, dares to flout its rules. The relationship between the two sisters Janaki and Mallika is pivotal to the novel. The responsible older sister and mother figure abandons her vulnerable sibling to flee from the nest. This leaves the trapped younger sister not only furious but in a state of unforgiving non-comprehension. How and why, she rages silently did Janaki choose to abandon her? As the story unwinds, Mallika slowly begins to understand the moral conundrum faced by her sister he whole novel is structured to reflect the slow unraveling of a raga or melody in Carnatic music. Janaki, the protagonist is a child prodigy, a musical genius, who becomes a famous veena player. It is at a musical competition that she meets her future husband and musical notes are an essential part of the structure of the novel. The joy, the thrill, the sad plaintive notes, forms the intricate raga of life in the agraharam. Janaki's friend and member of the school musical trio, Kamala, is silenced before she and her friends could articulate their raga to the world, but the silent raga too, we are told, will be heard for silence is not acquiescence. The sections in the novel are titled Varnam, Alaapana, Krithi, Ragam Thaanam Pallavi, Padham, Thillaana, and Mangala, and these reflect the elements of a raga. Unless one takes them to be metaphors for the nuances of the relationship between the two sisters, which finally evolve into a melodious raga, brought to an auspicious conclusion (mangala), I do not see any direct connection between these subtitles and the plot. To Janaki the veena is her essence; it is as she points out to the journalist interviewing her, her spinal cord, and in that sense one sees her whole life as a musical structure. his is Merchant's first published novel and he has certainly presented a rich repertoire of emotions strung to a melodious tune. He has captured the cultural flavour and if his development of the characters and craftsmanship needs to be a bit more evenly polished, we hope to see that in his second novel, which he assures his readers, will soon see the light of day. ď Ž
JustBooks Connect - June 2010
An enchanting tightrope walk Let The Great World Spin Colum McCann Penguin Reshmi Chakraborty
hings happen. Things collide. Says the author in the book. This is a brilliant story of such collisions, though unforeseen, unexpected with none of the pieces fitting till the very end. This is a book that starts off in the New York of 1974 and ends in post a 9/11 world. The tightrope walk is at its core of this book and fittingly enough McCann tells the story of Phillipe Petit's preparation for the walk midway in the book, the other events forming a before-after around it. To give the reader a background, on August 7, 1974 French daredevil and tightrope walker Petit walked
and his brother Ciaran follows, after surviving a bomb blast in Dublin. In C o r r i g a n , McCann creates a memorable character, a kind of spiritual hero for the prostitutes, intent of finding light in utter darkness, letting the hookers use his bathroom as they ply their trade outside, keeping the kettle on for them and still maintaining his vow of celibacy. As the story progresses, we see him battling desire and dilemma with the beautiful nurse Adelita, a trait that makes him seem believable and more human. he book begins quietly with Corrigan and Ciaran's story in Ireland as they go through their mother's death. Slowly as the story moves to New York, it pans out with a pace that is more hectic and multifarious. McCann is quite good with this increasing scope and character transition, though the change from the story of the two brothers to the meeting of war-bereaved mothers in a posh Park Avenue apartment does seem a somewhat abrupt and forced. As the transitions become more frequent and the connections start picking up, some characters and relationships stand out, like
on a high wire between the still under construction Twin Towers, at a height of 1368 ft above ground. He walked on the wire five or six times before handing himself over to the police. It's said that his daredevil stunt brought much-needed attention to the Twin Towers, which until then were regarded as an ugly piece of construction. he day of Petit's walk is crucial in many ways for several of the characters in McCann's book. It sets off a domino effect of events and associations. McCann gives each character space to tell their story, though his best are the Irish brothers, especially Corrigan. Corrigan, who from an early age lives in solidarity with the wasted and deprived, is part of a religious order, though his calling seems to be in working among the poor and marginalized. He moves to New York
the hesitant bond between Gloria and Claire; Tillie, the prostitute convicted to jail on the day of the tightrope walk and Jaslyn, the culmination of all collisions. t's wonderful how deftly McCann handles the different lives that eventually come together through guilt, tragedy, grief and love. There's enough darkness in this novel but you will not find it depressing because of the way McCann presents it. The world that Corrigan and the hookers inhabit is harsh, dirty and foul mouthed but there's also loss and despair and the final sliver of hope. If McCann who was born in Ireland, is at his best in describing Corrigan and Ciaran's world, he's equally at home in New York, though the world of the hookers (especially the one with two little girls) seems a bit clichĂŠd. But the glitches are few and far between. This is a book that gets better as the pages go on. Not a quick weekend read but certainly one to savour over time. It is a novel that you wouldn't mind reading once again over the years. If only to devour McCann's realistic, yet light-as-air prose and the grand vision that comes
JustBooks Connect - June 2010 Book Review
The City Of Ember
Just in love with JustBooks
ne day a pamphlet with the newspaper caught my attention. "JustBooks - a new reading experience." Reading further I got to know that it was a book lending library and very near my house. I was happy and decided to visit the library the coming weekend. I was in search of a library in my vicinity as I had just shifted to a new place in AECS layout and was doing all my reading online. So this came as good news to me. Weekend, the first thing we did was to go visit the library. Love at first sight does it happen like this? A bright well lit place, with AC and shelves of wellarranged books. I simply fell in love with it. I became a member immediately. I was surprised to see that there were lots of childrens books and small chairs were arranged so that kids could sit and read. My daughter also started liking the place. She went and picked books which I read to her. The next wonderful thing was the RFID scanning of books - an option to issue and return books on your own, with the help of a touch screen. Excellent technology. Moreover, they have online ordering of books, home delivery, Own a book etc. ustBooks is flourishing and this month they completed two years. They have opened around nine branches (or more) and I feel that they keep the same quality of service that delights book worms. I also heard that there was a new facility in SJR Park, near to my office. Yesterday, I decided to visit that place just out of curiosity and was happy with what I saw. I spend quite a lot of time there, browsing and reading. I found out that a new facility had opened in Madura Garments, Brooke fields. This morning I went in search of that (this again out of curiosity). Couldn't find it. Will again try tomorrow. Oh Just Books, I simply love you!
Jeanne Duprau Random House/Yearling Shruthi N Rao
he city of Ember is a city built by top architects and engineers known as Builders, who aspire to make a town that is well planned and stocked up with essentials. The materials that they had stockpiled will last for 200 years after which the people have to leave that city. The instructions on how to leave the city is provided by the Builders, who lock it up in a box which will open only after 200 years. The box will be passed from the first Mayor of the city to next Mayor. Lina and Doon are two teenagers, who come in 200 years later and who have never known any other light than the street lights and any other food than the canned ones.
They have just finished their schooling and as customary have to serve their city - Ember - in one way or another. Trouble starts brewing immediately when Lina as a messenger sees the stocks of all essentials including the canned food reduce and the Mayor not being the 'cleanest' and Doon finds that the underground pipe works are disintegrating and electricity supply is going down. Lina finds the box stashed in her grandmother's closet that contains the secret code in disintegrated form and along with Doon sets out to find the secret of the city of Ember. All these make an interesting and insightful read with incidents that could never be. Clothes that have to be reused and food that is only canned are stuff that we can't even conjure up. The author has been keen on detail and this makes up for absurdity. The book is filled with discoveries and if you are the 'absolute fiction' types, this book is made for you. Overall, it's a refreshing book and definitely worth a read. Shruthi studies in 10th in Kumarans CBSE and is a fiction book fanatic
BLACK (Inspired from the movie Black)
I walk down the snow covered street on a cool night day with my teacher The cool night breeze blows into my face, refreshing it thoroughly I walk down the slippery sidewalk, breathing in the refreshing winter air I sit down on a cold road-side bench, the cold stirring my senses from their slumber As my teacher teaches me with sign language It starts to snow I stretch my hands out to welcome it It seemed to be singing to me I saw and heard with my mind's eye and ear All the wonders that lay beyond My world of darkness Jayanthi Harsha
Just Books Connect- June 2010
1. Which one of the following has been made into a film by Aparna Sen? The Japanese Wife The time traveller's wife The book of Wife
4. What are the names of the two Hardy boys: Frank and Joe Hardy Tom and Jerry Hardy Julian and Dick Hardy
2.What is 'Happy Hours'? An ode to Vijay Mallaya Happy Hours: The Penguin Book of Cocktails Happy days of Shakuntala bai
5. Who is a Sahitya academy winner? Shashi deshpande David Davidar Ramachandra Guha
3. Harper Lee won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel: The Long Goodbye To Kill a Mockingbird Good weather
1.The japanese wife 2. Happy Hours 3.To Kill a mocking bird 4.Frank and Joe 5.shashi Deshpande
NEWS Hilary Mantel wins Walter Scott Novelist Hilary Mantel has won the inaugural Walter Scott prize for her historical fiction, Wolf Hall. The consists of £25,000. Antique book robber jailed Serial book thief, William Jacques, nicknamed "Tome Raider" stole books worth £40,000 from a London library. The Edinburgh International Book
Festival, has been announced. It will take place between 14th and 30th August. The theme is New World order, directed by first timer Nick Barley.
Author and Washington Post journalist Rick Atkinson has won the 2010 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. He has previously won the Pultizer Prize, twice.
One of the great writers of our
times, José Saramago, 87, passed away due to multiple organ failure after a long illness. Saramago won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. His works include ‘Baltasar’.
A penalty for a post?
The penalty would be on us, we thought, if do not write about the current fever that plagues denizens of this planet, once in every four years. And so, to get the ball rolling, here’s the lowdown on some interesting books on football in our huge 100,000+ books collection. One sec. Yep, we are supposed to keep our eye on the ball, we know, but did we mention that there is a blog site for this WorldCup? Here’s the link - http://www.worldcupblog.org/, check it out for constant updates on the game. Type ‘football’ in the search area of the JustBooks website and you will get 34 books for reading. For young athletes who want to learn how to improve their soccer skills and become an advanced player, "How To Improve At Football" is the answer. Detailed photographs take readers through step-by-step drills on dribbling, passing, shooting, heading, playing goal, and more. Packed with 1,000 brain teasing questions about UK, European and international football, created by the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? question masters, "Who Wants to be Football Millionaire" is the ultimate quiz book for any football fan. If you have ever wondered why and how football in India is at such an abysmal low as far as popularity is concerned, "Goalless" is the book that will answer that question, amongst many others. There are stories here from the length and breadth of the footballing nation: of the first Indian footballer to play in Europe, Mohammed Salim, a Calcuttan who played for Celtic FC in 1936, for instance. “Football and Gangsters” is an explosive in-depth investigation into the sinister underbelly of modern soccer. It exposes the new phenomenon of ‘taxing’ – a protection racket in which villains force young, highly paid Premiership stars and their agents to hand over cash under threat of injury and death."Football Fables" is a hilarious and fascinating anthology of stories from some of the most exciting names to have played the game.Some are outrageous, some sad, some downright bizarre – all are true, and straight from the mouths of the men who were there when it mattered. Go on, borrow some of our books and brush up your knowledge of the game. let us remind you that you can transfer books from any of our other locations to you should you not find them at your nearest JustBooks library!
From JustBooks blog - http://blog.justbooksclc.com
JustBooks Connect - June 2010
Poetry Parades And Identity Hula Anindita Sengupta
n my bookshelf is Identity Parade, an anthology of poetry by new British and Irish poets edited by Roddy Lumsden. Published by Bloodaxe Books, the book recently set off a tiny storm in the blogosphere. Google it and the first link that pops up is a post by British poet Todd Swift on his blog, Eyewear (toddswift.blogspot.com). This is one of several posts which began when Swift pointed out that Identity Parade doesn't include poets who've moved to the UK from other parts of the world. He called it a "conservative" position to take in terms of national identity. (Incidentally, Swift is a Canadian who's lived in the UK for many years.) Since, as he put it, "poetry anthologies are like beds: the most interesting question is who is and isn't in them", this was a reasonably large thorn in the otherwise rosy review. What followed was an online bicker about anthologies, inclusion, exclusion, what qualifies one as a British poet, an Irish poet, a Canadian poet, and so on. What's interesting in all of this is the question of national or regional identity being intertwined with poetry, or any writing. Anthologies are often organised around this core. For India, the recent definitive and unmissable book is The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets edited by Jeet Thayil. Sixty Indian Poets, again edited by Thayil, is easier to find in stores though and if you're looking for an entry into Indian poetry, it's a great place to start. It has sixty poets arranged with "a view to verticality" and includes granddaddies like Nissim Ezekiel alongside relative unknowns. More interestingly, it has poets from all over the world because Thayil felt that Indian poetry, no matter where it is being written, should be looked at as one body of work. Looking at poetry through the prism of national identity is obviously useful. The idea is to provide insight into a nation state's literary concerns, styles and tropes. The corollary is that this will lead to illumination about the place, the society, the people. But the approach can also be limiting. Many aspects of human experience move beyond the scope of national or regional identity. Poets speak to each
other across countries, across centuries, across languages. I'm thinking of contemporary British poets reading Rumi at a beautiful exhibition at the British Council in London, or Indian poets writing in English who've grown up listening to Mirza Ghalib's ghazals. The ferment of ideas needs such crosscurrents. Then there is the problem of hybrid identity: what do you do with poets who fall in the shadow lines, between nation states. Thayil tackled this by being inclusive; Lumsden by being strict. Each approach comes with its potential pits. Thirdly, there is the question of what is national identity? What do we hope it means? What are we hoping it will tell us? And are we, sometimes, investing too much in it? It is difficult to produce anthologies
Many aspects of human experience move beyond the scope of national or regional identity. Poets speak to each other across countries, across centuries, across languages.
that transcend national borders partly because the undertaking is too vast, too complex, too hard to pin down. This might be why such anthologies tend to restrict the scope in other terms such as 'poetry by women' or 'poetry on love', and so on. Some deal with larger regional identities-South Asian, African, postcolonial or Carribean. The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry edited by JD McClatchy includes many important world poets but omits poets from the Americas, the UK, Australia and other predominantly English-speaking areas. This is true of some other anthologies of 'world' poetry as well, which is telling. It is as if the English-speaking countries are not part of the world but standing inside a magic frame, looking out at it, as if English poetry and poetry written in other languages must forever travel on two sides of a ledge, rarely acknowledging that they have much in common. Similarly, The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Susan Harris offers a selection of international poetry, i.e. 'international' from the perspective of the West. If there is a book equivalent of Poetry International Web (www.poetryinternational.org) in recent years, I haven't come across it. The Internet allows largenessand largess-that print might not manage. This may be why PIW pulls off its ambitious goals: thousands of poems from around the world in many languages (including English) and updated every month. It's a unique sort of database of the world's collective poetic appeals, aspirations and methods, and one of my favourite leisure stops. One can hope that with the opportunities the Internet poses, such endeavours will become more common. While the national or regional anthologies continue to flourish, we will also have a confluence of voices in other places. The print world will probably continue to categorise by nationality though. Which means that squabbles about who belongs where will continue to fizz and flare, and the poetry world will continue to be the gossipy, buzzing place it's always been. What fun. ď Ž
JustBooks Connect - June 2010
Unleashing your inner tortoise at Work, Play and Home In Praise of Slowness Carl Honoré HarperOne Dr. Rajagopalan
ime sickness describes an obsessive belief that "time is getting away, that there isn't enough of it. And that you must pedal faster and faster to keep up". Has our obsession with speed turned into an addiction, resulting in stress and life in a hurry? Aren't there things that cannot and should not be speeded up? Are we burning out earlier and well on our way to committing karoshi, Japanese for "death by overwork"? The introductory chapter lists some tell-tale signs. Do you communicate with your spouse and children at home through post-it notes and email? Need stimulants very frequently to stay alert? Do you pack your kids' calendars with something or other? Do your children come home to an empty house? Do you multi-task? Do you show road rage? Survive on junk food? Have you begun following a time-management guru? Are you incapable of doing absolutely nothing? Then, perhaps you should slow down. Life in a hurry can become superficial. Things which make life worthwhile- family, friendships and communityall need us to give time. The 'Slow' philosophy does not necessarily mean being slow. It is more about balance-being fast when it makes sense and being slow when called for-in other words, the right speed. Apparently, there are thousands who have succeeded on various fronts-kitchens,
offices, concert halls, factories, gyms, music, bedrooms, neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools etc. Chapter one is a quick overview of how the clock is 'the key machine' of the industrial revolution and a double edged weapon. Instead of just men measuring time, time became a measure of man. 'Fast' implied good and 'slow', a four-letter word. Natural times and biorhythms were replaced by clock time. Achieving greater efficiency meant greater control over others. The western view of time as a linear limited resource began to dominate the eastern view of cyclical time. Chapter two concedes that opting out of the culture of speed involves a leap of faith. But it asks how is it that technology, automation and other developments never resulted in lots of leisure as earlier predicted? nstead of the time thus saved helping us to slow down, it got diverted to meeting increased consumption. Therefore, by a reverse logic, slowing down is not necessarily only for the affluent. We can 'downshift'-forego money in return for time and slowness, if we choose to. Chapters three to ten discuss why and how to slow down in various aspects of life. Take the 'Slow Food' movement spreading from Italy. Why should our meals be as rushed as a refueling pit-stop in a Formula One race? Doesn't it encourage ready to eat, cook foods and global food chains? Aren't we tinkering with nature's seasons and
our own health? Cut out the time you spend in front of your TV and have a family dinner at the dining table instead. Revive traditional recipes, patronize local produce and possibly save money. When it comes to traffic woes and speeding vehicles, we are all hypocrites. Do you jump into your car even for neighbourhood shopping errands? Are you one of those who drive 5 km
increasingly popular weightlifting movement. Martial arts teach you how to be still within even while being lightening fast outside. Apparently, we can slow down our opponents by our stillness. We can also appreciate the need for doctors to spend more time with their patients rather than leaning straight away on technological crutches and aggressive treatment strategies. However, Honoré's uncritical admiration of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) systems sounds more like a sales pitch. So is the case with Honoré's fascination with tantra, as the route to a fulfilling sex life. The essence seems to be the time spent with your partner rather than tantra per se. n the context of urban middle class in India, I found Chapters eight, nine and tenvery insightful. We must define our ambitions in terms of quality of life rather than quantity of consumption; avoid joining the arms race in working hours; consider trading off money for less work; and, exploit flexibilities in working hours. Your bank balance might be healthier when you work less intensely. In this hi-tech, fast paced world, we must indulge in very few but low-tech slow hobbies- reading, gardening, walking, knitting, painting, music etc. We must learn to do even these 'slowly'. Each has its own eigenzeit- the right time and pace. In raising children, we must stop hyper-parenting. Stop enrolling children in formal schools too early; or, in schools too far away requiring long commutes. Don't cram their days with all kinds of activities. Give them unstructured time to spend as they like to goof around
for their morning walk? Are you a resident of a 'gated community', a futile attempt at isolation from the surrounding urban squalor? Do you know who your neighbours are? Just take a walk and get to know your neighbourhood. Join local civic groups. The frontline of the war against speed is inside our heads. The wisdom of slowness lies in reflection rather than mere reaction. onoré advocates the eastern traditions of meditation. The mind-body link suggests that 'slow exercise' may be preferable to heart-thumping aerobics. Yoga and Chi Kung are such regimes. 'SuperSlow' is an
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Just Books Connect - June 2010
A tribute to the men who made our country proud
n April 16, 2010, the world lost an eminent thought leader and management guru C. K. Prahalad, who died of an undiagnosed lung illness in San Diego, USA. Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad was a globally recognized management consultant and writer. Known as the father of the concepts of core competency and the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, Prahalad specialized in corporate strategies. He strongly believed in good corporate governance and ethical standards. Noted as a brilliant teacher at the University of Michigan, Prahalad was among the top ten management thinkers of the world. An MBA from the Indian Institute of Management and a DBA from Harvard Business School, Prahalad had consulted for many large, multinational firms and held visiting professorship positions in famous universities. He constantly challenged his students and one of Prahalad's beliefs was "Only when you are challenged, unsafe, and out of your zone, can you find selfknowledge". It was Prahalad who suggested that businesses should stop considering the poor as victims and instead start seeing them as value-demanding consumers. Companies such as Hindustan Lever and Godrej followed his suggestion and created a retail revolution in developing nations like India. Prahalad learnt his first management
ne of the earliest Indian writers writing in English, Manohar Malgonkar, died on 14th June 2010 at the age of 97. Born on 12th July 1913 into a royal family, Manohar Malgonkar was the grandson of the prime minister of a former princely state. He was a mine owner, a farmer, a civil servant and also stood for parliament. After his degree in Bombay University, he became an officer in the Maratha Light Infantry. He enjoyed hunting, though later in life, he gave up hunting and became a fierce wildlife conservationist. After he retired from army he moved to Jagalpet, near Belgaum, Karnataka and writing remained his first love. Malgonkar's works are set mostly in the pre and post independence era. The Devil's Wind is a historical novel written as an autobiography of Nana Saheb, the heir of the last Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy, who played a leading role in the Indian Mutiny. Manohar tried to paint a sympathetic
C.K. Prahalad lessons while working at Union Carbide, India. When he noticed temporary workers use old and torn gloves in the factory, he argued with the management for distributing new gloves to workers who handled dangerous activities rather than distributing gloves based on seniority. Using case studies of Aravind Eye Hospital and Bank of Madurai, both from his home turf, Prahalad explored new business models targeted at providing goods and services to the poorest people in the world arguing that the fastest growing new markets and entrepreneurial opportunities were to be found among the billions of poor people "at the bottom of the pyramid." Prahalad's thought impressed people like Bill Gates who said that his ideas offer an intriguing blueprint on how to fight poverty with profitability.
portrait of a man, whom the British portrayed as a great villain. Another must read is, The Men Who Killed Gandhi, here, Malgonkar gave facts and analyzed the circumstances and the role of the police in Bapu's assassination. The book has rare pictures and documents like, copies of the Air-India tickets used by Godse and Apte to make the trip from Bombay to Delhi and back for
Prahalad was fascinated by the potential of the internet as a force of creative destruction. Pushing organizations "to do more with less," he campaigned for standardized cell phone chargers and sustainable transport solutions. He had promoted India's causes in many global projects and advocated that the poor must become active, informed and involved consumers. He was awarded Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honor. Prahalad's books combine practical and academic insights. He captivated his audience by his fresh and provocative ideas. He highlighted the importance of research in business strategy and gave the subject academic credibility. Prahalad was talented in presenting his observations of many companies and then challenging his audience to derive lessons from his presentations. Having entered the field of management from the field of physics, he focused on deriving conclusions from facts. He popularized "Inclusive Capitalism" and emphasized that entrepreneurship held the key to freedom. This book made Prahalad a rock star in the management field. Prahalad's work along with Gary Hamel in the 1990s, on the concept of "core competence" of companies won the McKinsey Prize. He also co-authored a number of well known works in corporate strategy. ď Ž the assassination and even their bills at Hotel Marina in Connaught Place, where they stayed while carrying out their mission. With his thought-provoking writing, the author tells a thrilling story about the assassination and at the same time, does not take any sides. A Bend in the Ganges , is set in the disturbing and violent partition era; when thousands were slaughtered. It takes us through the lives of Gian, a follower of Gandhi, Debi-dayal, an ardent terrorist, and Debi-dayal's sister Sundari, a ruthless woman who holds nothing sacred. This compelling and fine writing won national and international acclaim. Malgonkar's literary works range from fiction to non-fiction including biography and history. His other famous books are - Distant Drums, The Princes, Inside Goa, Chatrapatis of Kolhapur Cactus Country He later wrote a weekly column covering in newspapers like The Statesman ď Ž and Deccan Herald.
JustBooks Connect - June 2010
Just Kids Get a simple rectangular card sheet paper, scissors and colours and make your own pop-up book. It's easy as 1,2,3: Step 1: Take a rectangular (81/2" x 11") piece of card sheet paper. Fold the card sheet neatly in the middle.
edge. Stop 2 inches before the open end. The sheet should look like this
Mouth Pop-up Book
Step 2: Draw a line from the folded edge of the card to the center as shown below. Cut along the line, starting at the folded
Mister Jeejeebhoy and the Birds Anitha Balachandran Age group: 4 -12
Step 3: At the cut end, take the upper flap and fold to form a triangle. Press neatly with your finger, such that the triangle stays. Step 4: Repeat the action with the lower flap to get a similar triangle. Press to keep in place.
Otherwise Dimlivli will have effectively lost it's sweet tooth. This book has been exquisitely designed to the very last detail with stunning descriptions, which fill most of the 36 pages of the book.
Step 6: You can complete the Pop up by decorating it with eyes and other illustrations of your choice. Credit: http://robertsabuda.com
Its magical plot has a smooth flow and is easy to understand. The descriptions are drawn by hand and colored with bright and vibrant colours, which give the story a life of it's own. ith the use of more pictures, complex written descriptions on how particular scenes look like have been avoided - this makes the story much easier to understand. Simple words, which are easily understood are used, new words are also introduced as the story weaves on.
Of course, there are the shortcomings the story is a bit too small. There could be more things happening in the story to make things a bit more exciting. However, to sum up, this book is just right for very young children, who have just started reading. he writer and illustrator, Anitha Balachandran has written some other books for children, such as The Dog Who Loved Red and Mouse Maiden and illustrated several children's book like Silly Dilly, Moin and the Monster. Having completed her undergraduate studies at the National Institute of Design India, Anitha Balachandran obtained her Masters at the Royal College of Art, London. When opening the book, you can feel anticipation and excitement. As you burrow deeper into the book, you'll be enchanted and mystified by the amazing descriptions and brilliant use of language by the author. Normally, writing fantasy stories, which involve the use of magic is tricky and can end up confusing the reader. But in this one, the author expertly makes the plot, and adds a touch of class, which makes it understandable for very young children. The shortcomings are there, but the book conveys more than just a simple story. It shows India in its true colours and will most certainly make a good impression on the kids. ď Ž
wo young girls known as Diya and Tara have come to live with their aunt, Ninamasi in a big city called Dimlivli. However, the house in which they live in is something out from the ordinary with strange sounds emerging from every nook and cranny. Everything, ranging from the furniture to the photographs, seems to have a life of their own. The girls soon settle in and go about their business, even as no one agrees to play with them due to them living in the "strange" house. Soon, the girls discover to their surprise that they have special talents of their own. At the same time, Dimlivli's most famous shop - the sweet shop has shut down, for Mister Jeejeebhoy, the shopkeeper has lost all his pet birds, which he kept in his house. Somehow, Diya and Tara have to use their gifts to bring the birds back.
Step 5: Now open both the flaps and bring them to their original positions. The flap can be opened and closed by moving the edges of the card sheet.
JustBooks Connect - June 2010
'm referred to more often as a Canadian writer than an Indian writer. Or — what is it they say? A Canadian-writerborn-in-India. And I'm certainly more of a Canadian writer than an Indian writer, because I have no sense of being part of any group or school or generation of Indian writers. But that doesn't really interest me at all. All I try to do is tell a good story" — Rohiton Mistry (2002). Rohinton Mistry was born in Bombay in 1952 and earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and economics at the University of Bombay. He left Bombay for Canada in 1975 at the age of 23 with Freny, his future wife. Peer pressure and predefined expectations drove him towards that long journey. After reaching Toronto, he secured a job in a bank after numerous attempts and spent the next decade doing work that was largely clerical in nature. Those years brought him to a point of need and boredom where he was willing to take risks. He enrolled at the University of Toronto to study English and philosophy and it was during this time that he decided to give writing a try. Once he got started, Mistry was recognised quickly. His first short story, 'One Sunday', won the Hart House literary prize. He won it again the following year, the first writer to win it twice. is first book, Tales from Firozsha Baag, published in 1987, was a collection of connected short stories about characters living in a Parsi colony. It was well received but his debut novel Such a Long Journey (1991), firmly seated Mistry among the international pantheon of literary stars. The book won Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction, the Commonwealth Writer's Award for Best Book of
the Year, and the WH Smith Books in Canada First Novel Award. More importantly, it was nominated for the Man Booker. Mistry followed that up with A Fine Balance in 1995. Dina Dalal is a widow who has to find ways of staying independent. She starts a tailoring business, sets up shop in her own house and hires two tailors who are originally from the Chamaar caste. Class and caste tensions play out in this narrow space while larger tensions rent the country which is plunged into Emergency. he story ends in 1984 after the assassination of Indira in New Delhi and with the onset of riots. A Fine Balance won a host of awards and was a finalist for the Booker. The next book Family Matters, is a story of a 79-year-old Parsi widower afflicted with Parkinson's, living under the care of his stepson and stepdaughter, is as affecting as Mistry's other novels and it was as well received. The book was nominated for the Man Booker and won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize. His latest book is a short tale called The Scream which features original artwork by Canadian artist Tony Urquhart. Significant about Mistry is the fact that he garners respect
internationally as well as in India. Within India, he faces few charges of exoticism or poverty porn. Abroad, he is able to interest readers in an India that they find credible and fascinating. This may be because he confines his explorations to a small universe —the Parsi living in Bombay—and this is a shadowed world for readers both in India and abroad. Mistry's novels, for the most part, are not overly explicatory. They trust the reader's intelligence and imagination. Their centre does not consist of pithy descriptions or culture tourism but insights about human life that are universally relevant. And perhaps what helps Mistry negotiate the tricky path of telling an Indian story to an international audience is the fact that he firmly locates it in a single character. s he told Oprah, A Fine Balance started with the single image of a woman working at a sewing machine. He has also said that he enjoys working with characters, not so much with plot. Naturally, the Mistry story then is one based on innerscapes rather than twists and turns. The political and the social are certainly part of his books but they are prismed through the minds of the central characters. We grow to care about these characters and after a point, the technical flaws of the novels cease to matter because one has become personally invested in the people. Mistry does provide a lot of details about place. His prose is richly descriptive and his preoccupation with Bombay is obvious. Language is an important aspect of Mistry's novels because the characters assume real form through it. Dialogue powers much of his narrative and the lived-and living-language of communities in Bombay is a huge part of it.
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