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Of 'untouchables', good friends, memory and mystery (IANS Books)

By 3.2.2018         Mail Now Send Mail   Post Comments

Know a Dalit woman's family history that goes back to the 1930s, when the Independence movement promised freedom but little changed for untouchables; get a refreshing, nuanced take on friendship, love and this crazy thing called life; enhance your learning methods, study techniques, and psychological preparation; and read a crime novel that shatters the conventions of the genre.

The IANS bookshelf has it all for readers this 1st weekend of Feb 2018.

1. Book: Ants Among Elephants; Author: Sujatha Gidla; Publisher: Harper Collins; Price: Rs 599; Pages: 304
While most untouchables are illiterate, her family was educated by Canadian missionaries in the 1930s, making it possible for Gidla to attend elite schools and move to America at the age of 26. It was only then that she saw how extraordinary and yet how typical, her family history truly was.

Her mother, Manjula, and uncles Satyam and Carey, were born in the last days of British colonial rule. They grew up in a world marked by poverty and injustice, but also full of possibility. In the slums where they lived, everyone had a political side, and rallies, agitations and arrests were commonplace. The Independence movement promised freedom. Yet for untouchables and other poor and working people, little changed.

In "Ants Among Elephants", she tells her story. A moving portrait of love, hardship, and struggle, the book is also that rare thing: A personal history of modern India told from the bottom up. 

2. Book: A Few Good Friends; Author: Swati Kaushal; Publisher: Hachette; Price: Rs 399; Pages: 310
For Aadi, Srini, Ambi, TD, Miru and Kajo, the 20th anniversary reunion of their batch from IIM-Calcutta provides the perfect opportunity to set aside their everyday anxieties and re-live the heady days of their youth. But things begin to go awry when ex-lovers reunite, old grudges resurface and long-held secrets come tumbling out.

As they navigate an eventful weekend in Goa packed with expected nostalgia and unexpected drama, what becomes increasingly clear is that while friends are fallible, friendships are forever. The book sparkles with wit, warmth and the easy craft that has marked Swati Kaushal's bestselling novels.

3. Book: Maximize Your Memory; Author: Ramon Campayo; Publisher: Rupa; Price: Rs 295; Pages: 274
Each of us has the ability to develop and improve our minds in amazing ways. All you need is motivation, an effective method, and an expert guide. Ramon Campayo's method shows you the fastest, easiest and most effective way to drastically and almost immediately increase your memorisation capacity and reading speed.

The book can surely help to improve one's study habits and preparation for exams.

4. Book: Glass Houses; Author: Louise Penny; Publisher: Sphere; Price: Rs 699; Pages: 391
One cold November day, a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines causing unease, alarm and confusion among everyone who sees it. Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious; then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now a Chief Superintendent, suspects that the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realised.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls on Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montreal, Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back.

In "Glass Houses", Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience -- a court that supersedes all others.

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