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FICTION  Mornings in Jenin By Susan Abulhawa Bloomsbury 352 pages, Rs 650 The conflation of history and politics tempers the narrative of Susan Abulhawa's Mornings in Jenin. This chronicle of four generations of a Palestinian family exiled to the Jenin refugee camp is resonant with Abulhawa's own life and politics. With elegant and impassioned prose, Abulhawa explores how her heroine Amal endures the scourge of her Palestinian ancestry as it follows her half way across the world and eventually brings her back to her roots. Abulhawa, however, is more than subtly polemical in championing her cause. An intensely affecting book, Mornings in Jenin is moving and beautifully articulated, but it is also overtly political.

Quick Review

May 29, 2010


FICTION Mornings in Jenin By Susan Abulhawa Bloomsbury 352 pages, Rs 650 The conflation of history and politics tempers the narrative of Susan Abulhawa's Mornings in Jenin. This chronicle of four generations of a Palestinian family exiled to the Jenin refugee camp is resonant with Abulhawa's own life and politics. With elegant and impassioned prose, Abulhawa explores how her heroine Amal endures the scourge of her Palestinian ancestry as it follows her half way across the world and eventually brings her back to her roots. Abulhawa, however, is more than subtly polemical in championing her cause. An intensely affecting book, Mornings in Jenin is moving and beautifully articulated, but it is also overtly political.

NON-FICTION The Lost River By Michel Danino Penguin 360 pages, Rs 399 Michel Danino takes us on an enchanting trip to the banks of the Sarasvati, a river whose origins are hoary. He establishes that the Sarasvati was not a mythical river, but a real one on the banks of which the Harappan civilisation flourished. The dry bed of the Ghaggar-Hakra river in Haryana and Rajasthan is identified as the course of the Sarasvati, which dried after the Sutlej and the Yamuna, two of its tributaries, changed course and joined the Indus and the Ganga respectively. Danino's conclusions are based on reports of archaeological surveys beginning with those from the British era and recent scientific studies of the region. A fascinating read.

Quick Review

May 29, 2010


NON-FICTION The Lost River By Michel Danino Penguin 360 pages, Rs 399 Michel Danino takes us on an enchanting trip to the banks of the Sarasvati, a river whose origins are hoary. He establishes that the Sarasvati was not a mythical river, but a real one on the banks of which the Harappan civilisation flourished. The dry bed of the Ghaggar-Hakra river in Haryana and Rajasthan is identified as the course of the Sarasvati, which dried after the Sutlej and the Yamuna, two of its tributaries, changed course and joined the Indus and the Ganga respectively. Danino's conclusions are based on reports of archaeological surveys beginning with those from the British era and recent scientific studies of the region. A fascinating read.

<b>FICTION </b><br><br><b>Johnny Gone Down </b><br><br><b>By Karan Bajaj HarperCollins </b><br><br><b>311 pages, Rs 99 </b><br><br>Intended to be a racy thriller, Johnny Gone Down is neither racy nor thrilling. The story of an engineering graduate who goes on a holiday to Cambodia and gets caught in the violence of a coup is unconvincing, when not irritating. Protagonist Nikhil is also a genocide survivor, Buddhist monk, drug lord, homeless accountant and many things more. Even the cool-sounding title is forced. The book is meant to be an airport read but perhaps the free newspapers out there would be more entertaining. If Bajaj wants to be another Chetan Bhagat, which anyway isn't asking for much, he needs to try harder.

Quick Review

May 29, 2010


FICTION

Johnny Gone Down

By Karan Bajaj HarperCollins

311 pages, Rs 99

Intended to be a racy thriller, Johnny Gone Down is neither racy nor thrilling. The story of an engineering graduate who goes on a holiday to Cambodia and gets caught in the violence of a coup is unconvincing, when not irritating. Protagonist Nikhil is also a genocide survivor, Buddhist monk, drug lord, homeless accountant and many things more. Even the cool-sounding title is forced. The book is meant to be an airport read but perhaps the free newspapers out there would be more entertaining. If Bajaj wants to be another Chetan Bhagat, which anyway isn't asking for much, he needs to try harder.

<b>RELIGION </b><br><br><b>Sacred Sites of the World </b><br><br><b>By Nirad Grover Roli Books </b><br><br><b>160 pages, Rs 695 </b><br><br>Religion sells, as do religious sites. Photo-journalist Nirad Grover goes globetrotting to discover and chronicle some of the best-known sacred sites of the world. There are, of course, the usual suspects such as Mecca, the Golden Temple in Amritsar and Varanasi. But there are also lesser-known sites such as Lalibela Churches in Ethiopia, which are hewn into solid rock and probably go back to the 7th century CE. Or the shrine of Qoyllur Rit'i high in the Peruvian Andes where Christianity meets ancient Inca belief. There are many such sites documented in the book accompanied by nice photographs.

Quick Review

May 29, 2010


RELIGION

Sacred Sites of the World

By Nirad Grover Roli Books

160 pages, Rs 695

Religion sells, as do religious sites. Photo-journalist Nirad Grover goes globetrotting to discover and chronicle some of the best-known sacred sites of the world. There are, of course, the usual suspects such as Mecca, the Golden Temple in Amritsar and Varanasi. But there are also lesser-known sites such as Lalibela Churches in Ethiopia, which are hewn into solid rock and probably go back to the 7th century CE. Or the shrine of Qoyllur Rit'i high in the Peruvian Andes where Christianity meets ancient Inca belief. There are many such sites documented in the book accompanied by nice photographs.

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