Paperback Pickings

Truths about the self

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 12.12.08

Truths about the self

Next Door (Penguin, Rs 250) by Jahnavi Barua is an exquisite collection of stories set in Assam from where the author hails. Barua is described as being “passionate about the land she comes from” and her passion shows in the tales. There is a ubiquitous presence of the Brahmaputra — the river that sustains, and devastates Assam each year with its floods — in the stories. The lush green valleys, the capricious river and the distant blue hills of Assam remain woven like tissues of remembered beauty in them. In “The Favourite Child”, the deathbed of the mother of four grown-up daughters becomes the stage for the revelation of truths that shatter the sisters and, at the same time, set them free from the past. In “Awakening”, a diffident wife rediscovers love for her husband as she learns to let go of the painful memory of her son’s accidental death.

The Rozabal Line (Westland, Rs 250) by Ashwin Sanghi is claimed to be “More complex than The Da Vinci Code and a whole lot more terrifying”. Whether this assertion is true or not is debatable but this book is certainly in line with those works that started appearing on the scene following the success of Dan Brown’s bestseller. Here, Sanghi dishes out a heady mixture of terrorist attacks, secret societies, murdered professors, hallucinating priests and seductive femmes fatales. The lineage of Christ is traced back to India, Hindu, Jewish and Islamic myths are co-mingled to arrive at the conclusion that “Karma is all”. The narrative is gripping, which is perhaps as much as can be expected of fiction of this kind.

The Lost Art Of Being Happy: Spirituality For sceptics (Macmillan, Rs 295) by Tony Wilkinson is written with sincerity and insight. The advices it gives might not be exceptional but they sound heartfelt, and hence appealing.

Dirty Game (Harper, Rs 225) by Jessie Keane opens with a line that gives a fair idea of what the novel is all about — “Annie Bailey lay naked in the arms of Max Carter”. A familiar tale of sex and lies follows, with Annie filching her sister’s lover (the Max Carter in the quoted line), getting thrown out of her family as a result and joining an East End knocking shop. She sins outrageously for the delectation of the reader and ends up as a chastened mother-to-be.