History, angling and drama on book-shelf (IANS Books this Week)

July 14th, 2012 - 8:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) The book cart this weekend is a load of gripping titles. Flip through with IANS…

1.Book:”The Tattooed Fakir”; Written by Biman Nath; Published by Pan Macmillan; Priced at Rs.299

Place: Northern Bengal, Circa: late 18th century. The new colonial rulers face an unlikely army of “fakirs” and “sannyasis”. At the same time, few indigo plantations have come up in the countryside. The French keep a low profile, and even indulge in indigo trade espionage. A young woman - Roshanara - is kidnapped by the village zamindar. The British sahib, owner of the indigo plantation, intervenes, but then takes her as his own mistress. She is not, however, any local woman - she is a fakir’s daughter. Her fakir father and her husband, Asif, go to Majnu Shah’s band of fakirs to plead for help in getting her back. Asif feels nothing is left for him in the village and joins the fakirs, training in the use of weapons and ammunition, skirmishing with them up and down the country, but pining, always, for his Roshanara.

Years later, in an oddly fated rescue mission he ends up, not with her, but with her son - Roshan - who evolves into a ferocious fakir soldier, tattooed and insecure about his identity.

2.Book:”Bombay Girl”; Written by Kavita Daswani; Published by Harper Collins-India; Priced at Rs.199

Sohana Badshah has led a charmed existence - carefree, wealthy and from a close-knit family (at least as far she knows). And then she moves to London on a whim to pursue an interior design course, where she falls in love with Jagdish Sachdev - the man of the compassionate heart and matchless brains. But Jag leaves her, citing irreconcilable differences between their families. Sohana returns home to the news that the business empire her grandfather had built over the years will wind up either in the hands of the highest bidder or with the grandson (but of course) who shows the most mettle. As her brothers race to inherit the business, Sohana is wooed, and her ethics and loyalties tested.

In this first instalment of Kavita Daswani’s trilogy, with secrets tumbling out and dramas unfolding all around her, Sohana must make up her mind about what and who she is in the scheme of things.

3.Book:”Bring Up the Bodies”; Written by Hillary Mantel; Published by Harper Collins-India; Priced at Rs.399

The sequel to the Man Booker-winning ‘Wolf Hall’. “My boy Thomas, give him a dirty look and he’ll gouge your eye out. Trip him, and he’ll cut off your leg,” says Walter Cromwell in the year 1500. “But if you don’t cut across him he’s a very gentleman. And he’ll stand anyone a drink.”

By 1535, Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a “truth” that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.

In “Bring up the Bodies”, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning ‘Wolf Hall’, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn.

4.Book:”Subhan & I: My Adventure With The Angling Legend of India”; Written by Saad Bin Jung; Published by Lotus Roli; Priced at Rs.295

Set in the heart of Indian bush, “Subhan and I” is about angling for the hump-backed “mahseer”, the greatest fresh water fighting fish in the world, under the most harrowing circumstances, in a swim which many experts believe cannot hold big fish whilst others state that even if they were there, landing (catching) the fish would be impossible. It is against this challenging backdrop, two men - Subhan and the author -from socially different backgrounds battle hard to outwit and land the elusive “mahseer” in the turbulent waters of Cauvery river.

The book is not just a treasure trove of information on angling and life in the bush, it is also about the life and trials faced by the two men, trying to save the “mahseer” against all odds. The many anecdotes related to the author’s family and life experiences lend the book its heart and soul. It also traces the position of the fish in Indian history.

5.Book:”The Acts of Faith: Journeys To Sacred India”; Written by Markand R. Paranjpaye; Published by Hay House India; Priced at Rs.299

“The Acts of Faith: Journeys to Sacred India” is a sensitive and enriching exploration of the essential meaning and inner dynamics of sacred India. Through a series of deeply textured narratives of well-known masters, ashrams and sacred sites, it engages with that area of contemporary India where the profane and the sacred intersect, each transforming the other.

This unusual pilgrimage shows how the pathway to the Divine is plural and open, rather than closed or restricted. While there are many travel books on India, few combine an inquiry into the meaning of India with actual visits to sacred sites, encounters with contemporary gurus, and reflections on perennial themes like ‘faith’ and ‘love’. Using both textual sources and actual experiences, “Acts of Faith” tries to define what constitutes the sacred, making for a highly interesting cartography of “India of the Spirit”.

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