Paperback Pickings

Secrets of the new digital age

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 21.11.14
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Secrets of the new digital age

When Google met Wikileaks (Navayana, Rs 295) by Julian Assange presents the transcript of a secret meeting that took place between the famous whistleblower and the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt. Their conversation, ranging from the revolution in Egypt to the validity of bitcoins, is preceded by two introductory essays by Assange where he attempts to make the reader feel deeply sceptical of Google’s “don’t be evil” policy. The Wikileaks founder argues, using sharply written prose, that Google’s top brass is actively intervening “in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states”. Assange’s argument gathers steam from the plethora of reports, articles, cables and emails he cites in the dense footnotes, which make for interesting parallel reading. For easier access the ebook version, with direct links to online sources, is suggested. For those interested to know how present-day geopolitics, surveillance, censorship and publishing (if not foreign policy itself) are being shaped by the gods of the internet, this is recommended reading.

Images of Life: Creative and Other Forms of Writing (The Book World, Rs 225) edited by Saptarshi Mallick has ample advice for budding writers looking to pen their first poem, novel, script, travelogue, review or blog. While Sarojini Sahoo and Debasish Lahiri usher Homer and Aristotle to illustrate metre, structure and tone of poems and novels in their essays, others, like Jo Clifford, offer entirely personal experiences and insights that have shaped their craft. Shoma A. Chatterjee furnishes the history of film journalism in India to provide an overarching understanding of what film reviews and reviewing should be like. For book reviewers Pinaki De has practical advice: “do not accept for review a book you are… committed by friendship to like” and “review the book, not the reputation”. Since setting down rules of writing is always tricky, it is heartening to see a volume that offers to tackle a wide range of forms to help writers hone their skills.

Atisa and the Time Machine: In Search of Kalidasa (Jaico, Rs 199) by Anu Kumar is the third adventure of Atisa — a young owner of a flying time-machine that takes him back to the ancient kingdom of Pataliputra where Kalidasa, the poet has gone missing. This tale merges history and science fantasy in a way that is amusing, engaging and informative for young readers. Priya Kuriyan’s illustrations add a charming touch.