A little Bit of Bragging: Since the book in question picks up a lot of stuff from Sir Rushdie's life, let me brag about the only thing that conn A little Bit of Bragging: Since the book in question picks up a lot of stuff from Sir Rushdie's life, let me brag about the only thing that connects me to him. I live next to the house where he used to spend his summer vacation as a child! (Not that I saw him! That was way before we moved there.) But the fact that Salman Rushdie owns a house in my neighbourhood and might someday walk in while I am taking a walk by Anees Villa makes me want to mention it because, believe it or not, I have fallen in love with his writing!
Ah! I digress! So, coming back to the point... Midnight's Children was lent to me by a friend sometime last year but something I don't like thinking about, made me drop the book and return it to her. By that time, I had finished about 400 pages of this long but captivating novel and couldn't get it out of my head so, I borrowed it again from the same friend, read it (finally) and am now reviewing it.
There is no reason why you should not read Midnight's Children because it is as close as magical realism can get to real life while keeping its dark, seductive charm intact. It has all the good elements of a great political commentary, a vivid imagination and a cocky yet innocent kind of humour very unique to writers like Salman Rushdie . In fact, this is one of the rare novels which is as close as any book can get to Arabian Nights while being simultaneously close to the narration of Gabriel García Márquez . Read Midnight's Children if you like magical-realism or step into the genre with it, read it if you like fairy-tales which talk about politics or political novels which are written like fairy-tales. It will get slow, it will be hard to read and yes, you might reach the point where you'd just want it to end but it is a book which will continue to haunt you unless and until you don't finish it! ...more
This little beauty is like a Tim Burton story: it's strange, it's dark, it's funny and beautiful and you don't quite understand the narrator and his mThis little beauty is like a Tim Burton story: it's strange, it's dark, it's funny and beautiful and you don't quite understand the narrator and his mind. Kinda makes me confident that there's nobody like Murakami when it comes to crazy, quirky stories!...more
Beautiful, poignant and heart wrenching, Spirit Brides compels you to think about the power of love, the misery of being poor and hapless in a world fBeautiful, poignant and heart wrenching, Spirit Brides compels you to think about the power of love, the misery of being poor and hapless in a world full of people with money and power. Although the stories in this anthology are very very common, to almost every culture, but what makes it different, and beautiful is how they havebeen written. A must read really and all you need is half an hour!...more
I know a lot of people would be like: "What?! A book on diplomacy? And that too on foreign policy? And on Indian foreign policy at that...?"
But trusI know a lot of people would be like: "What?! A book on diplomacy? And that too on foreign policy? And on Indian foreign policy at that...?"
But trust me on this one, guys! It was totally worth my time!
I have to be pretty honest: if it wasn't for the fact that this book is slightly older than the current day foreign policy of India, and if it weren't for certain change in statistics, this would would be a 5 star read, and not just because I learned so so much from it!
Reading Mr Sikri's book is like listening to a good TED talk or one of those Interesting Talks at Oxford sessions. You simply cannot rest in peace, read something else or even concentrate on your research work (like me!) if you're reading this.
No, do not go by the size. Although seemingly small and not so lengthy, it will take you forever. In fact, if you have set your heart on reading it I recommend that you keep the following things close by: -An extra dark pencil -A sharpner (Trust me, you'll end up with a blunt pencil MORE often than you think! ) -Something to drop your pencil shavings in (Mine are still everywhere on the bed, including in my hair!) -Sticky notes (You need a whole stock of them.) -A pen and a pad.
Chances are even if diplomacy, politics and non-fiction is not your thing, you're still going to end up making a lot of notes. You're also probably going to be Googling a lot (and when I say "a lot", I mean a LOT!)
Do I recommend it to you?
Well, only if you're: a) An Indian who is more interested in what's going on in your country more than what's going on in a celebrity's life. b) Someone who is interested in International Relations, India or Indian diplomacy and politics. c) A research scholar or student of IR. d) Amateur political science lover....more
There are very few poets in the world that you can claim to read in a state of half sleep, early in the morning and who can still fill your heart withThere are very few poets in the world that you can claim to read in a state of half sleep, early in the morning and who can still fill your heart with their words, bewitch your senses and charm your imagination the way Pablo Neruda does. Apart from the poems of love and beauty, what really captured me in this collection was this particular poem about the mermaid and the drunks. An outwardly creature tormented by the world, surprised by how cruel humans can be, how inebriated they can be blind to all that is good and pure and simple, it was the one poem that said a thousand things through a short fable.
Neruda is the master of enchantment and I highly recommend this book to anyone, who claims to have even an ounce of feelings in their heart....more
So, you think all that you were taught in history, science, math and geography class was right? Did Henry VIII really have six wives? Did Einstein reaSo, you think all that you were taught in history, science, math and geography class was right? Did Henry VIII really have six wives? Did Einstein really come up with the theory of relativity? Is mercury the only metal liquid at room temperature?
Well, I certainly thought so! Combining the best of what you know and what you think you know, the makers of QI, have now come up with Quite an Interesting Book, that I am glad I picked up from Oxfam and actually started reading after so much procrastination.
Nothing brought out the curious and yet skeptic kid in me the way this book has . Whether you love reading or hate it, whether you enjoy trivia, or are a seekerof knowledge, The Book of General Ignorance is something I would recommend to you anyway! There’s nothing like it! I mean it!...more
A thing about Khalil Gibran: You can never read anything by him ever again that will hold the same place in your heart as The Prophet.
A thing abo A thing about Khalil Gibran: You can never read anything by him ever again that will hold the same place in your heart as The Prophet.
A thing about his poetry:You will love it anyway, more than works by any other poet.
Gibran was not just a poet but a storyteller, a philosopher and a doctor of the soul all wrapped in one. That's how his books are. They are like soup for an ailing soul, they enrich you and enchant you as you flip through their pages, and the only thing you can ever compare them to is another book by Khalil Gibran himself.
So, even if I say I give it a 4/5 rating, please bear in mind that it is only with respect to The Prophet and The Garden of the Prophet, that this book is a 4/5. If I have to compare it to anything else that I've ever read, it is far far superior and way more deep.
If you're big in Oriental Poetry, or poetry in general, i'd say, The Madman is a not-to-be-missed read! ...more
Let me begin this review with my final verdict before I analyse anything else about it: It could have been a LOT better!
For those who worship PhilipLet me begin this review with my final verdict before I analyse anything else about it: It could have been a LOT better!
For those who worship Philippa Gregory because "she's a historian!" : Don't you think that for a historian writing historical fiction she is way too presumptuous?
Well, I certainly thought so even though I do grant writers poetic license to bend a few facts in order to make the story readable. However, to turn a figure like Katherine of Aragon into nothing more than a whiny, idiotic girl, who has no mind of her own, is going a little too far, I think!
Katherine of Aragaon, despite all her faults was the strongest and bravest Queen that the dim-wit Henry VIII married and if you look back at her depiction in this book, all she has been shown as is a stupid, snivelling, pathetic cow (excuse my French!) who shows courage only to do what she was told by her mother, her father, her dying husband; whose emotions change like the weather of England and who basically had two major misconceptions: 1)Her mother was God 2)She was God's favourite child
Nowhere in the book is she portrayed as a woman who actually went through the pain of being married off in a deal, who lost her husband and was kept as a captive. Instead, she's just this teenager with the crazy dream of becoming the Queen of England, no matter what it took! Even in the end, when the King's Great Matter is discussed, she's not the devoted wife who braved a war in her pregnancy, she's just a woman, who has lived her dream and inwardly accepts her defeat to Anne Boleyn because, "She is just as ambitious as I was!"
Of course none of us know what the real Katherine was like and nor can we ever found out. As a result, all we have left for reconstruction, is our presumptions.
My question here is: Could we not have done better, Ms Gregory? Could we not have had a not so whiny Katharine and somehow portrayed her in an inspiring light despite all her faults and foibles? If not, I guess this book was certainly not meant for me!...more
A multiplicity of factors make this book precious to me! yes, precious! The store-it-in-a-lock-and-key kind of precious! So let's start this review wiA multiplicity of factors make this book precious to me! yes, precious! The store-it-in-a-lock-and-key kind of precious! So let's start this review with why I will not lend you this book even if you are my soul mate:
-It's a first day first edition! I was the first person to buy it minutes after its release from a book store in Chandigarh.
-It's more than just a book, it's an important source of history and helps to understand in depth the aftermath of the Battle of Chamkaur and the History of Sikhs as we know it today.
-It was one of the last books my grandfather read before he died, and being well versed in as well as an avid reader of both Persian and English, he was in a true position to comment on it. I think that mentioning that he died a fan of Navtej Sarna is a testimonial in itself on how brilliantly successful Mr Sarna has been in his endeavour to translate this historic letter by Guru Gobind Singh to Aurangzeb.
-It's a signed copy! Yes! Signed by the man himself with the inscription: For Shriya, In the memory of your beloved grandfather.
However, even if this book hadn't been so priceless for me, even if Mr Sarna hadn't been one of my most favourite authors and a truly wonderful person at heart, and even if I hadn't been so blessed as to meet him by the most serendipitous twist of fate in a book shop, this book would still have been my, favourite.
Like I said with my other review in the morning, you cannot translate Persian poetry into English very easily. you have to make sure that your words capture the depth, the essence and the very soul of the poet to be able to do this.
I think I just have to thank my stars that Mr Sarna chose to translate this particular piece. One thing I can say without even thinking twice is Navtej Sarna has a natural flare for poetry. He's effortless with his words, his rhymes come out perfectly formed, and even in a translation, his knack for poetry is incomparable.
In the words of my grandfather, who left us last year, "If you can read and understand both Persian and English, you'll be able to see that in case of this particular translation, Navtej Sarna is not merely the translator but also a poet in his own regard."
Well, I couldn't test that theory because I know nothing about Persian but as a student of history, who had already read Zafarnama in a non poetic translation, I would say this is the best one ever!...more
" Their melancholy is soothing, and their joy elevating, to a degree I never experienced in studying the authors of any other country. When you read" Their melancholy is soothing, and their joy elevating, to a degree I never experienced in studying the authors of any other country. When you read their writings, life appears to consist in a warm sun and a garden of roses, in the smiles and frowns of a fair enemy, and the fire that consumes your own heart. " -Victor Frankenstein on Oriental Poetry (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein )
I begin my review, or rather, I sum it up in the words borrowed from Mary Shelley, who said it all about the likes of Omar Khayyam, Khalil Gibran, and Rumi, in those two lines. Yes, this is exactly what reading Oriental poetry feels like, even to a person from the Oriental world! This is exactly what reading this little pink book feels like.
In fact, I'm glad I got my hands on it before that little three-year-old girl, who was probably eyeing it keenly because it's pink and cloth bound. I still shudder to think where Rumi's wisdom would have lain, in a doll house perhaps, surrounded by Barbie dolls, instead of a bookshelf!
Anyway, what about this translation of Rumi? Is it as good as Barks? Better than Barks? Is it different?
Well, I am not going to compare it with Barks, because, I am yet to read it. As to what I think of this translation, it certainly is amazing but it isn't what one would call brilliant. Somewhere, while trying to keep the rhyme scheme intact, the translator lost that key essence of Rumi: depth! I don't mean that the poems are not deep anymore or have suddenly become simple and shallow and meaningless-no! However, the original beauty of Rumi is lost in the use of more colloquial words and all this just to get the whole things rhyme. Certain quatrains are so vague you just lose track of what you're reading and there are places where the translation is simply clumsy.
I do not claim to be an expert on Persian poetry like my grandfather was however, I know for sure that if this collection had been translated in the same way as Navtej Sarna translated Zafarnama or Vikram Seth translated certain couplets from Arabic, Persian and Urdu in his A Suitable Boy , I, for one, would have loved this book slightly more than I do now.
That being said, I have still adored the book. Who couldn't? Rumi's poems are like music to the soul, and even if they seem a little too casually handled, they still leave a mark on you, hit the nail, touch a nerve somewhere. I throughly enjoyed the book but I just feel that it could have been better!
If you pick up this book looking for the typical Garcia Marquez style, you're in for a disappointment. This isn't the usual Garcia Marquez book, packeIf you pick up this book looking for the typical Garcia Marquez style, you're in for a disappointment. This isn't the usual Garcia Marquez book, packed with elements of fantasy and facts. This is a journalistic reconstruction of a real shipwrecked sailor, Luis Alejandro Velasco, a guy who really faced a ship wreck and sharks, a tale so moving and yet so simple, it is impossible not to be touched by it. Reasing this book, made me dislike Life of Pi a little bit more because nothing seems original about that story now, not even events of the shipwreck, which now seem to be copied and pasted from this one. As for this one, you can take magical realism out of Marquez but not that capturing, haunting style of storytelling out of a book by him! Worth a read!...more
I am surprised I didn't post my review sooner considering I was long done with the book and I must say I was surprised! Yes, surprised is the word forI am surprised I didn't post my review sooner considering I was long done with the book and I must say I was surprised! Yes, surprised is the word for it because I have never approached Historical thrillers without a certain level of doubt. Being a student of history has always, always made me skeptic about historical fiction but like I said, "Surprised, and pleasantly!" is the phrase I would use for The Treasure of Kafur .
1. Writing historical fiction, especially one which is closely linked with real people can be a daunting task.
2. If you're not very authentic with your facts, you end up misleading the readers.
3. The more you indulge in historical fiction, the more you risk criticism from one source or another.
Breaking News: India finally has an author who braves all these things and delivers an amazing thriller and is our own contemporary to Hilary Mantel and Ken Follett.
A perfect blend of fantasy and fiction, the story is like a fairytale, a historical tale and a thrilling plot all wrapped into one. As a reader, you're never this person who is watching the whole thing going on but a character inside the novel, burying treasures, witnessing murders, discovering secrets and involved in a cat and mouse chase between life and death.
What I found personally agreeable is how elements of fantasy in a historical fiction (which can be really unpalatable) fit in so effortlessly. In fact, I would have given it a higher rating had I not felt a certain something missing-like there's more to the story.
However, despite being a seemingly unfinished business towards the end, here's a book the likes of me have craved for from an Indian author. Definitely worth a read!