Divorce, India, partition on bookshelf (IANS Books This Week)

December 31st, 2011 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

The book case this weekend is lighthearted and peppy - matching the mood as a new year begins.

1. “Two Fates: The Story of My Divorce”; Written by Judy Balan; Published by Westland; Priced at Rs.150

It is a classic tale of Punjabi boy-meets-Tamilian girl, they fall in love, the families oppose it, but love conquers all and they get married to live happily ever after. Or do they? There’s a twist in this hilarious tale when, four years down the line, Rishab and Deepika fall out of love.

But if getting married was hard, getting divorced is much, much harder because, by now, their families have fallen in love - with each other - and will leave no stone unturned to make sure that what the fates have joined together, no couple shall put asunder, even if it means staying together themselves as one big, inter-community family.

He’s just another IITian who wants to end his lucrative corporate career to become a best-selling novelist.

2. “The Other Country: Dispatches from the Mofussil”; Written by Mrinal Pande; Published by Penguin-India; Priced at Rs.350

An essential reading for anyone trying to understand and find answers to some of the most vexing issues troubling Indian society today, “The Other Country” brings together a wide-ranging selection of essays by a veteran journalist. Through chronicles, anecdotes and hard-hitting reportage, Pande traces the many, ever-widening fault lines between Bharat and shining India, the small town and the metropolis.

Pande describes the Great Language Divide between Hindi and English, traces its origin, the role globalisation has had in its spread and the effect of this divide on contemporary literature and media. She vividly describes the anti-outsider movement in Mumbai and analyses the role that inequitable development and the lack of opportunities in villages and small towns has played in it.

3. “Let Me Tell You About Quinta”; Written by Savia Viegas; Published by Penguin Books India; Priced at Rs.299

“Houses are like people, you live in them and they look beautiful; you neglect them and they wither and slump.” When Queirozito wins the protracted litigation against relatives who had laid claim to his 200-year-old ancestral home “Quinta” he gets a new lease of life.

He invites his grandson Suraj from the US to take a look at the half-slumping villa for possible repairs. When Suraj’s Russian-American wife California arrives instead, Queirozito faces yet another invasion on his beloved home and decides to fight back once again only to stumble upon some bitter, dark family secrets.

4. “Mapmaking: Partition Stories from Two Bengals”; Written by Debjani Sengupta and Ashish Nandy; Published by Amaryllis; Priced at Rs.295

The book brings together renowned writers from Bangladesh and West Bengal including Ritwik Ghatak, Hasan Azizul Haq and Manik Bandopadhyay. It is a unique attempt to see how Partition has shaped the narrative of the regions that share a common language, culture and heritage. Many of these stories appear in English for the first time and carry the evocative tone exclusive to Partition stories from the east.

An infidel sinks to the bottom of a shallow river, looking for oysters and his lost wife. A man takes three years to bring himself to make a 45-minute journey, only to find his love has flown the nest. Two heavily pregnant women are forced to flee their country - one gives birth on a train and the other is silenced forever. These haunting narratives question the finality and resolution of Partition, the insufficiency of memories and the instability of borders.

5. “Bali And the Ocean of Milk”; Written by Nilanjan P. Choudhury; Published by Harper Collins India; Priced at Rs.199

A mysterious ailment afflicts Indrah, reducing the omnipotent king of the gods to, well, not quite the man he used to be. To add to his woes, the Holy Trinity threaten to fire him for dereliction of duty. But Indrah’s troubles wilt in comparison to those of his ‘asura’ (demon) counterpart, Bali, ruler of Tripura. Even as Indrah sits fretting over his delicate health, an assassination attempt on Bali leaves the ‘asura’ on the brink of death.

There is only one thing that can save both these men from certain doom: ‘amrit’, the mythical nectar. But to secure it, the gods and the ‘asuras’ will have to cooperate and churn the Ocean of Milk together… Will Indrah and Bali be able to put aside their ancient enmity, or will old rivalries keep them from pulling off this epic feat?

“Bali and the Ocean of Milk” reimagines the eternal conflict between the gods and the ‘asuras’ in a whacky thriller littered with bad jokes and corpses.

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