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Quick review

A History of the World in 100 Objects
By Neil MacGregor
Allen Lane 707 pages, £ 30

The history of the world can be told in many ways. Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, chooses to chronicle it in 100 objects. The objects span the Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool, one of the earliest things made by human hands some two million years ago in Africa, to the ubiquitous credit card. The book tries to be as global as possible. So you have the Rosetta stone, an Indus Seal as well as a Ming banknote. Accompanied by nice visuals, the book is an unusual way to understand the history of mankind. The book is the outcome of a series of programmes aired on BBC radio.


The Life's Too Short

Edited by Faiza S Khan and Ausha Raja
Hachette 121 pages, Rs 395

Mohsin Hamid, Mohammed Hanif, Daniyal Mueenuddin, HM Naqvi - a bunch of dazzling writers have emerged on Pakistan's literary firmament in recent years. This small collection of short fiction goes beyond these well-established names and unearths new writing. The selections are from the 800 entries of a writing contest. Of them Sadaf Halai's Lucky People is a gem. Also interesting is the photoessay, Sign your name across my heart, and Rabbit Rap, extracts from Pakistan's first graphic novel. Equally attention grabbing is Mohammed Hanif's translation of the pulp fiction Challawa.


Three Plays

Penguin 182 pages, Rs 299

A collection of three award-winning plays varied both in theme and treatment. Prashant and Kalki Koechlin's A Skeleton Woman is laced with short, snappy dialogues. Neel Chaudhuri's adaptation of Satyajit Ray's story, Patol Babu, Film Star, is an endearing account of a middle-aged man trying to make it in the unforgiving world of cinema. Abhishek Majumdar's Harlesden High Street is about the anxiety and the struggle of a Pakistani immigrant in England. Longish monologues suddenly give way to a quasi-poetic dialogue in the end marking an immigrant's acceptance of a home away from home. Theatre enthusiasts might dig this.


Pyramid of Virgin Dreams

Vipul Mittra
Rupa 270 pages, Rs 195

Pyramid of Virgin Dreams is about the life of a bureaucrat. Transfers, ambassador cars, orderlies, Diwali gifts and other sundry facets of an IAS officer's life are demystified as the protagonist Kartikeya goes through it all, even as he thinks about his school and college days. Mittra has a way with words. Cigarettes are an "ambassador white", and a town as arid as the "parched throats of alcoholics on Gandhi Jayanti". The nagging inner voice of Kartikeya is personified and given a name - Selfmusing - but hardly has a personality of its own. A book that bureaucrats will appreciate.

Reader's opinion (1)

Sarnavo DasMar 18th, 2011 at 11:53 AM

this review article is well written to inform readers like me. one is spoilt with so many good choices of book titles; bookworms will try to grab some of these titles in bookstores!

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