Paperback Pickings

In search of the god particle

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 19.10.12

In search of the god particle

Playing to win (Penguin, Rs 199) by Saina Nehwal chronicles the life and times of India’s ace shuttler “in her own words”. Nehwal undertakes quite a structured approach, meticulously charting her life from childhood to her current status as a sporting icon. That Nehwal was destined to be a badminton player was clearly established by the fact that the shy and serious child would burst out into peals of laughter while watching her father play the game. Her love for the game blossomed, and saw her balancing a punishing schedule of rigorous practice sessions and tournaments with studies. The hard work paid handsome dividends, and soon Nehwal was pocketing such international tournaments as the Czech Open Junior (2003), the Philippine Open (2006), the World Junior Badminton Championships (2008), and so on. But fame has not gone to Nehwal’s head. This is evident from the chapter in which she credits several people — parents, coaches, physios and other staff at the academy— for her sporting achievements.

Success has also opened the doors to the lucrative world of endorsements. But Nehwal, who had once dressed up as Jawaharlal Nehru for a fancy dress party only to forget her lines on stage, is unlikely to lose her focus under the harsh glare of the spotlight.

The Gods of Gotham (Headline Review, Rs 350) by Lyndsay Faye is the story of the first policeman of the newly formed Police Department in New York City. It is set in the strife-torn summer of 1845 when the Great Irish famine began.

Timothy Wilde, the streetwise but compassionate narrator and the protagonist of the story, is a bartender who lost his parents in a fire when he was a child and, as the novel opens, watches another consume the bar where he works. After losing all his savings and his hopes of marrying his childhood sweetheart, he gets a job with the police. His first assignment was with the Sixth Ward — “hell’s privy pit”. The author’s translation of the Flash — a language spoken by the NYC’s criminal underworld — is almost spot-on. It adds a realistic touch to the narrative. Faye’s distinctive style of writing and the backdrop of the book makes this historical novel an interesting read.

The shadow throne (Pan, Rs 250) by Aroon Raman tells the story of a mysterious murder — that of a white Caucasian male with the looks of a greek god — at the Qutub Minar that quickly transforms itself into a lethal game between the secret services of India and Pakistan. The intrepid journalist, Chandrasekhar, his historian friend, Meenakshi Pirzada and a cop, Syed Ali Hassan, take it upon themselves to untangle the knots. In the process, Chandrasekhar realizes that in this murky world the lines that separate truth from deception often get dangerously blurred. Raman’s book, yet another literary product from an industry that milks the tensions in the subcontinent to churn out innocuous thrillers, pays homage to every conceivable cliché.

God, science, and reality: Audacity of reason and tenacity of truth (Books Way, Rs 495) by Pinaki Ganguly attempts to crack the ultimate puzzle concerning reality, knowledge, faith and human society. What distinguishes this work is apparently its interdisciplinary approach — a mishmash of Physics, Neurobiology, Philosophy, Sociology, and so on — which promises to reveal the Master’s Plan to the lay reader. Ganguly does not leave it at that. He proceeds to identify the path that ought to be taken to accomplish the goals that life has to offer. This distinctly mystical model of investigating reality has a rather soporific effect on the mind.