Let me warn you that the book lists are long, but all lovers of books love the Long Book List—in fact it’s a great motivator!
Even though The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is a very long book and a Booker winning one at that, Jaya found it an absorbing read. “I can read long books,” she says. “Even a book like War and Peace that I love has boring passages in between. Eleanor Catton doesn’t bore you. Even at the Jaipur Lit Festival, she came across as a warm, intelligent and charming writer filled with empathy towards her readers. When she writes, she is the same.”
As for Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun, Jaya was not convinced. “Maybe I didn’t pick the right Murakami yet,” she said, aware of the die-hard Murakami fans she could be disappointing with this statement.
She was disappointed with a few more big names—Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman.
“On the other hand Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes was a great read. It does not romanticize the camaraderie that war time brings, nor does it condemn human frailty. Another book set in Vietnam was The Quiet American by Graham Greene, a good book that I took up because it is the favorite of my favorite author Kiran Nagarkar.”
“Another book that I really learned from was Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Set in Nigeria, in the backdrop of the Nigerian Civil war, Adichie traces the life of a family during political upheavals- coups, reverse coups, massacres and peace.”
“It makes you wonder about boundaries that are drawn by outsiders,” Abhaya said. “These don’t correspond with local borders, so there will always be unrest.”
Readers must be familiar with patriotic email forwards. For Jaya, The Sceptical Patriot: Exploring the Truths Behind the Zero and Other Glories by Sidin Vadukut, the premise of the book to explore the truth of the claims made in these patriotic outpouring was reason enough to grab it. “The book is good in intent, but low on content. A large part of it is completely irrelevant, narcissist description of author’s personal life, which adds nothing to the questions in hand. Although the little research that is there is good. It gets into the details of what exactly the ‘invention of zero’ means, for example, before deciding on whether or India invented zero. But there is too little of it. I had high hopes for this one, but the content is so thin that instead of a book, it would have been best published as an email forward or an enlightening facebook post.”
Jaya continues her fantasy book odyssey.
“What can I say about The Song of Ice and Fire except that it is a book that swallows you whole? So much, that I had dreams of people plotting, planning, back-stabbing and turning cloaks for several nights. I’m hooked.” This bought us to the whole ethics of spoilers of The Song of Ice and Fire series being revealed on unsuspected twitter handles. Abhaya was furious that a twitter handle he follows for publishing industry updates spoiled Jon Snow’s death for him. (Is he dead though?) Is this ethical, when you think of the reader who trudges his way through the series, lapping up a new reality and savoring the suspense?
Have you read our myth stories yet? Well you should. (Mythical fiction in India feat Anand Neelakantan, Mythical fiction in India feat Nilanjan Choudhury). Since we were in a mythical mood, Jaya read Yuganta, though she could not like it as much as it was rated.
It was Anil’s first book club with us and he talked about a Telugu book that he had read called Jayam by Malladi Venkata Krishna Murthy. The story is about how an engineer embarks on a spiritual journey.
More books that the bookish InstaScribe Team read coming up next week. In the mean time what have you been reading?
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