It was Sarika’s first BYOB Party and she bought along the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, Australian TV writer and producer. “This book is nothing like the books you all sharing here,” Sarika said. “It’s a light read.”
And a bestseller at that. This slender self-help book which stresses on the ‘law of attraction’ and explains how thoughts are magnetic and the thoughts that we send out frame our life. Ideas like visualizing your goals are also explained. However, there is no scientific basis for these ideas and this has led the book to controversy. Even then sales have been phenomenal and the book has been translated into 46 languages. Comparisons to Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist came up during the conversation.
Abhaya visited Mumbai for the first time this year and was fascinated by the energetic city. He’s been looking for a book about Mumbai that bypasses Bollywood and the underworld. He came upon the City Series released by Aleph Book Company. There he found City Adrift by Naresh Fernandes. The book is more about how Mumbai evolved by the process of land reclamation from the sea and how the city has grown at such an alarming rate, so much so that there are more slum dwellers than dwellers in apartment complexes. Fernandes chalks out the history of these seven conjoined islands that turned into a cosmopolitan nightmare or heaven, whichever way you’d like to describe it. Some other writers who have featured this maximum city include Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul and G. D. Roberts.
“It is a very readable book. And a good launchpad for picking up another more detailed book about Mumbai. I’m not sure which one that would be but I envy people like Naresh who live and work in the city they were born in, thus getting to know it intimately and having the skill to write about it in precise words.”
Another book Abhaya got was a Hindi novel by Manohar Shyam Joshi called Kuru Kuru Swaha. Manohar Shyam Joshi is a name well known to an earlier generation of Indians who watched soap operas like Hum Log, Buniyad and Kakkaji Kahin. He was also a prolific writer and even won a Sahitya Academy Award for one of his novels. But he is unlikely to be seen on the recommended books lists and the bestseller lists of Hindi literature.
“I loved Kuru Kuru Swaha from page one. The book set in Mumbai is dedicated to Hazari Prasad Dwivedi (of Banbhatt ki Aatmkatha fame) and his effect is clear: the wit, the sarcasm, the innovative craft, daft use of multiple Hindi registers. And a story of a middle class struggling writer in Mumbai who is well read in both Indian and western literature. He carries off that mix beautifully. Between Manohar, Joshi Ji and M. S. Joshi(the characters in the book), this is a masterful exposition of internal gymnastics going on in the head of a middle-class intellectual. You need to have a tolerance for the absurd, and mental jumps from the Upanishads to Graham Green in the same sentence. The usage of as many as six Hindi dialects and other languages makes this book unique.”
What a fantastic spread of books! Make sure you have read parts 1-5 of BYOB Party in May.