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FICTION The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai By Ruiyan Xu Bloomsbury 295 pages, Rs 450 Sometimes books look really interesting. And then, as you start reading, the author lingers lovingly and sickeningly on the painful details and puts you right off going further. Which is sort of what this book does. There is graphic detail on how a building crumbles as nature orchestrates a disaster and even more agony conveyed as a mind searches desperately for some degree of balance. Li Jing, Shanghai business tycoon, is caught in an accidental explosion and loses the ability to speak his native language, Chinese. In the journey to recovery, Li's family finds that he is wandering away on a different path.

Quick review

December 11, 2010


FICTION The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai By Ruiyan Xu Bloomsbury 295 pages, Rs 450 Sometimes books look really interesting. And then, as you start reading, the author lingers lovingly and sickeningly on the painful details and puts you right off going further. Which is sort of what this book does. There is graphic detail on how a building crumbles as nature orchestrates a disaster and even more agony conveyed as a mind searches desperately for some degree of balance. Li Jing, Shanghai business tycoon, is caught in an accidental explosion and loses the ability to speak his native language, Chinese. In the journey to recovery, Li's family finds that he is wandering away on a different path.

THRILLER The Marks of Cain By Tom Knox HarperCollins 438 pages, Rs 325 It starts out on a promising note, both when it comes to the plot and the quality of writing. But by the time this thriller hits the one-third mark, it has run out of steam, settling for being yet another tepid example of genre fiction. Still, plots centred around ancient mysteries manifested in the modern world - a centuries-old genetic secret, medieval machinations and World War II all thrown into a blender, in this case - afford a certain readability by default. The Marks of Cain is good enough for a dreary winter afternoon, but not much more than that.

Quick review

December 11, 2010


THRILLER The Marks of Cain By Tom Knox HarperCollins 438 pages, Rs 325 It starts out on a promising note, both when it comes to the plot and the quality of writing. But by the time this thriller hits the one-third mark, it has run out of steam, settling for being yet another tepid example of genre fiction. Still, plots centred around ancient mysteries manifested in the modern world - a centuries-old genetic secret, medieval machinations and World War II all thrown into a blender, in this case - afford a certain readability by default. The Marks of Cain is good enough for a dreary winter afternoon, but not much more than that.

FICTION The Sunset Club By Khushwant Singh Viking 218 pages, Rs 399 In an age of the young and younger, infirm men in their 80s are rarely deemed worthy of being the leading characters of a novel. And to that extent, the 90-plus novelist must get credit for creating the three protagonists who like heroes in a Manmohan Desai movie belong to three different religions. Unfortunately, Singh's pen is flaccid, much like the libido of his protagonists, and fails to create the poignancy the narrative deserves. This is a sort of novel where certain pages will be read many more times than the rest. And yes it could be a strong contender for the Bad Sex Award.

Quick review

December 11, 2010


FICTION The Sunset Club By Khushwant Singh Viking 218 pages, Rs 399 In an age of the young and younger, infirm men in their 80s are rarely deemed worthy of being the leading characters of a novel. And to that extent, the 90-plus novelist must get credit for creating the three protagonists who like heroes in a Manmohan Desai movie belong to three different religions. Unfortunately, Singh's pen is flaccid, much like the libido of his protagonists, and fails to create the poignancy the narrative deserves. This is a sort of novel where certain pages will be read many more times than the rest. And yes it could be a strong contender for the Bad Sex Award.

ARTS Brief Candle By Mahesh Dattani Penguin 139 pages, Rs 199 Brief Candle compiles three of Sahitya Akademi Award-winner Mahesh Dattani's most lauded plays. The Girl Who Touched the Stars uses an impressive narrative technique where an astronaut faces her young self after a rocket launch goes wrong. Thirty Days in September with its theme of child sexual abuse, is easily the most powerful play in the collection. The suggested multiple sets that fill up the narrative only add to the high drama. Brief Candle sees its protagonists grow as they perform a play bequeathed to them by Vikas, a man who lost his life to cancer. A theatre enthusiast would want this on her bookshelf.

Quick review

December 11, 2010


ARTS Brief Candle By Mahesh Dattani Penguin 139 pages, Rs 199 Brief Candle compiles three of Sahitya Akademi Award-winner Mahesh Dattani's most lauded plays. The Girl Who Touched the Stars uses an impressive narrative technique where an astronaut faces her young self after a rocket launch goes wrong. Thirty Days in September with its theme of child sexual abuse, is easily the most powerful play in the collection. The suggested multiple sets that fill up the narrative only add to the high drama. Brief Candle sees its protagonists grow as they perform a play bequeathed to them by Vikas, a man who lost his life to cancer. A theatre enthusiast would want this on her bookshelf.

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