Title: The Sense of an Ending
Author: Julian Barnes
Published by: Jonathan Cape, Random House
The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barness fourth novel to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is the story of a man coming to terms with the mutable past.
Tony Webster and his group first meet Adrian Finn in school. Hung up on sex and books, they navigate through the girl drought of gawky adolescence together and swear to stay friends forever. Until Adrians life takes a turn into tragedy, and all of them, especially Tony, move on.
Now Tony is in middle age. Hes had a career, a marriage and a calm divorce. He gets along nicely, he thinks,
with his daughter and even with his ex-wife. Hes never tried to hurt anybody, or so he feels.
Memory, though, is imperfect. It can throw up surprises, as a lawyers letter is about to prove. The unexpected bequest conveyed by that letter leads Tony on a dogged search through a past suddenly turned murky.
Title: Jamrachs Menagerie
Author: Carol Birch
Published by: Canongate Books
Jamrachs Menagerie tells the story of a 19th century street urchin named Jaffy Brown. Following an incident with an escaped tiger, Jaffy goes to work for Charles Jamrach, the famed importer of exotic animals, alongside Tim, a good but sometimes spitefully competitive boy. Thus begins a close friendship, fraught with ambiguity and rivalry.
Mr. Jamrach recruits the two boys to capture a fabled dragon during a three-year whaling expedition. Onboard, Jaffy and Tim enjoy the rough brotherhood of sailors and the brutal art of whale hunting.
But when the ships whaling venture falls short of expectations, the crew begins to regard the dragon — seething with feral power in its cage — as bad luck, a feeling that is cruelly reinforced when a violent storm sinks the ship.
Jamrachs Menagerie has echoes of Great Expectations and Moby Dick, says a blogger.
Title: The Sisters Brothers
Author: Patrick deWitt
Published by: Granta
Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesnt share his brothers appetite for whisky and killing, hes never known anything else. But their prey isnt an easy mark, and Eli begins to question what he does for a living and whom he does it for.
The second novel of young Canadian author Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers is filled with a remarkable cast of characters — losers, cheaters, and neer-do-wells from all walks of life. Told by a complex and compelling narrator, its a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s American West Coast.
Title: Half Blood Blues
Author: Esi Edugyan
Published by: Serpents Tail, Profile
Half-Blood Blues is a story about music, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.
The place is Berlin, the year, 1939. Trumpet player Hieronymus is arrested in a Paris cafe. The star musician is never heard from again. He was 20 years old, a German citizen. And he was black.
Fifty years later, Sidney Griffiths, the only witness that day, still refuses to speak of what he saw. When Chip Jones, his friend and fellow band member, comes to visit, recounting the discovery of a strange letter, Sid begins a slow journey towards redemption.
From the bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating, little-known world, and into the heart of his own guilty conscience.
Author: A.D. Miller
Published by: Atlantic
Nick Platt is a British lawyer working in Moscow in the early 2000s — a place where corruption, decadence, violence, and betrayal define everyday life. Nick doesnt ask too many questions about the shady deals he works on.
One day in the subway, he rescues two willowy sisters, Masha and Katya, from a snatcher. Soon Nick, the seductive Masha, and long-limbed Katya are cruising the seamy glamour spots of the city. Nick thinks he is in love with Masha.
Matters take a different turn in this debut novel by A.D. Miller when the sisters ask Nick to help their aged aunt find a new apartment.
Title: Pigeon English
Author: Stephen Kelman
Published by: Bloomsbury
The other debut entry in the Booker race this year, Pigeon English is about 11-year-old Harrison. Newly arrived from Ghana with his mother and sister, Harrison Opoku lives on the ninth floor on an inner-city housing estate. With equal fascination for the local gang — the Dell Farm Crew — and the pigeon who visits his balcony, Harri absorbs the many strange elements of his new life in England: watching, listening, and learning the tricks of inner-city survival. But when a boy is knifed to death and a police appeal for witnesses draws only silence, Harri decides to start a murder investigation of his own. In doing so, he unwittingly endangers the fragile safety net his mother has spun around her family.
as the secret of the nagas flies off the shelves, t2 reads book 2 of amish’s shiva trilogy
The plot: The Secret of the Nagas, the second title in banker-turned bestselling author Amishs Shiva trilogy, picks up where the first book, The Immortals of Meluha, left off — with the Naga who was stalking Sati.
Questions abound in this volume. Who is this Naga? Why is he stalking Shivas wife Sati? What is Satis connection with the Nagas? Are the Nagas the evil that Shiva is hunting?
We learn that the Nagas hold the answer to Shivas quest.Shiva and Sati, with a group of followers, set sail from Ayodhya to find the Brangas, who might lead them to the Nagas. In Kashi, the adopted homeland of Lord Rudra, is born Shivas son Kartik. Shiva leaves Sati and Kartik there to move on with Divodas, a Branga settler in Kashi, to his country to request the king to help him find the Nagas. But to find his way to the secret land of the Nagas, he must find a cure to the plague that ails Branga. For that he has to take on the terrifying bandit Parshuram, the only one apart from the Nagas who can make their medicine. Meanwhile, in Kashi, Sati makes discoveries of her own that make her and Shiva question the people they had trusted and their judgement of the Nagas.
The big question: With The Immortals of Meluha selling over 150,000 copies, fantasy buffs had been eagerly awaiting the second instalment of Amishs trilogy, with one question in mind: will The Secret of the Nagas match up to Book 1?
Well, Immortals..., being the first novel in the trilogy, had a novelty factor, more so because it belonged to that poorly represented genre called modern Indian fantasy. In the second book, the mythological thriller format is not enough to keep the reader hooked. The author, however, maintains a steady pace. There is mystery and action, injury and death.
Characters that had just been introduced in the first book are fleshed out, like Bhagirath. More characters are introduced. Questions are answered and fresh ones raised. And as he had prepared the introduction of the second book in the first, so through Shivas dreams, Amish marks his steps towards the final book, The Oath of the Vayuputras. The Immortals... was as much the readers initiation into Amishs philosophy as Shivas and like the Vasudev Pandits guiding Shiva, Amish had given the readers only as much as they were ready for. Here, he takes them to the next level.
Thumbs up: How the author weaves in his comments on modern social ills within the format of history and mythology. Look out for the bit on honour killings.
Thumbs down: Many characters are introduced, sometimes one too many! Also the narration could have been tighter.
t2 says: Amish doesnt neglect romance for action and philosophy. If it was Shiva and Sati in Book 1, in The Secret..., he lets Anandmayi woo her reticent Parvateshwar.
In an interview to t2 a month before the launch, Amish had given a peek into the second book, saying the situations would be such that one might feel one can trust no one. He lives up to that promise. Every word, every page makes you feel wary, as if there is something just beyond your vision.