Books from multiple genres were discussed in the first session of the Talking Terrace Book Club in October.
While reading John Keay’s To Cherish and Conserve and India Discovered, Jaya discovered how history was something that was created. People don’t know history by default; it isn’t a scientific law that can be observed and measured. What happened was curious folks from the East India Company took it on themselves to decipher puzzles such as Ashoka’s Brahmi Script. It was the Asiatic Society of Bengal that played a huge role in making sense of the pieces of this puzzle. In India dates were not recorded as there was a greater tradition of orality. So we really do not know what happened—history is possibly curation and extremely tenuous.
Which bought Jaya to the bestseller fiction called Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi. While some people in the group enjoyed the fantasy, some thought it smacked of pseudo-history and lacked the literary flair as well. The question then was what are the requisites of a bestseller in India. A connection to past glory- real or imagined- seems to be one necessity.
Another book Jaya read was a romance called Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan. “Would make for a good movie adaptation, though I am hard up to rate the romance genre. It never quite matches up.”
Again Atwood failed to impress Jaya. “I think Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin is overrated. The protagonist lacks spine and somehow the suspense feels forced. The only interesting character dies early on. However, if you want to learn more about how the elite live in Canada, this book is for you.”
Srishti read Sidney Sheldon’s A Stranger in the Mirror. “It’s one of those Sidney Sheldons that actually gets better towards the end,” she said. This is perhaps one of Sheldon’s finest books, a departure from his usual thriller formula.
When Anil spoke about Ravi Subranium’s book The Bankster, Priya Iyer, a biologist who joined our team for the Talking Terrace Book Club, wanted to know if there were any books about financial crimes. Anil found The Bankster unputdownable, little wonder that Ravi Subramanium is called the John Grisham of India. However, the book is more on the lines of a suspense thriller. The idea of a financial crime being woven into fiction is appealing, but not a part of commercial fiction in India yet.
Have you read any such books?