The Telegraph
Friday , March 4 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Paperback Pickings

Crime and punishment

Intimate others: marriage and sexualities in India (Stree, Rs 450) edited by Samita Sen, Ranjita Biswas and Nandita Dhawan brings the institution of marriage within the purview of the social sciences. This collection of essays also takes into account factors that have challenged the “hegemonic status” of this institution in Indian society. The traditional image of the ‘Indian family’ has been disrupted by the growing influence of globalization and information technology, as well as by the increased “social visibility” of homosexual relationships and other forms of intimacy. The institution of marriage has also acquired explosive political significance in recent years: civil society in West Bengal was convulsed by the murder of Rizwanur Rehman, khap panchayats have been known to order the killing of young couples who married without the consent of the community, and public protests broke out when the tennis player, Sania Mirza, got engaged to Shoaib Malik, a Pakistani cricketer. Starting with a history of marriage in the 19th and early 20th centuries, this collection offers legal, cultural and psychological perspectives on marriage and the way in which it interacts with contemporary contexts.

The All Bengali Crime Detectives (Rupa, Rs 150) by Suparna Chatterjee presents the latest slew of super-sleuths, the rising stars of detective fiction: Akhil Banerjee, Bibhuti Bose, Chandan Mukherjee and Debdas Guha Roy. Balding, pot-bellied and given to saying “iye”, these four retired friends take on the world of crime when a diamond ring, which once belonged to the Queen of Garhwal, is stolen from their quiet Calcutta neighbourhood. But distractions abound — a match must be found for a “wheatish- complexioned daughter” and, as Durga Pujo draws near, squabbles break out between two local clubs. A self- confessed fan of Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and Satyajit Ray, Chatterjee combines the charm of the familiar with the thrill of a good mystery.

Hotel K: The shocking inside story of Bali’s most notorious jail (Quercus, Rs 499) by Kathryn Bonella journeys into the dark heart of a holiday paradise. The prison has become something of a tourist destination itself; for a nominal entrance fee, visitors can stroll through its manicured lawns and meet some of the more famous inmates. But they are not allowed to see guards using electric rods on prisoners or killings that are made to look like suicides or inmates stabbing pens into their veins in order to shoot heroin. Gordon Ramsay’s disgruntled younger brother shares space with terrorists and bombers here; killers get away with light sentences while those found in possession of drugs face firing squads. Bonello travels deep inside this chaotic, twilight world and uncovers the stories that lie within. But it is a brisk, matter-of-fact account; she lets the horror of the stories speak for itself.

Cricket! All you wanted to know about the World Cup (Puffin, Rs 199) by Diptakirti Chaudhuri is perhaps the need of the hour. As Dhoni and his team pad up for the big matches of the World Cup, new cricket fans are born. And now, the budding fan will have terms like “Bosie”, “Bradmanesque” and “Mankaded” rolling off his tongue. He will tell you knowledgeably that Clive Loyd scored a century in the first World Cup, that Madan Lal and Yashpal Sharma “bowled their hearts out” in the 1983 tournament and that Virender Sehwag has a Test strike rate of 81. Neatly compiled and accompanied with caricatures, this book provides facts that are indispensable to a cricket-lover’s arsenal.

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