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Mysterious tales of men, a dose of motivation ( Book Reviews)

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This time, it’s fiction ruled by male protagonists. There’s a gripping story of two men whose lives are interlinked and who are willing to break every rule to win, a man whose life changes after he finds himself dangerously trapped in a suicide case, a boy who is made to live separately in a house where the residents die mysteriously.

Finally, an inspirational book that motivates one to take risks and overcome the fear of uncertainty. Here’s this weekend’s dose of the bookshelf. Read on!

1. Book: The Sialkot Saga; Author: Ashwin Sanghi; Publisher: Westland Ltd; Pages: 584; Price: Rs. 350

Arvind and Arbaaz, the leading protagonists of the book, are businessmen of a kind. Both are unaware that what they seek and fight over is the very obstacle in realising an ancient secret that dates to a time long forgotten.

The story weaves together the past and the present, where the lives of these characters are unwillingly intertwined and ricochet off one another while they play out their sinister and murderous plots of personal and professional one-upmanship.

2. Book: Nothing Can Be as Crazy; Author: Ajay Mohan Jain; Publisher: Rupa; Pages: 206; Price: Rs. 250

A girl, after sneaking into the highly-restricted area of a bank, jumps to her death. And Rajesh, the recently-appointed head of the computer section, finds himself embroiled in an unexpected controversy as the police suspect him.

Will Rajesh be able to set himself free or is he actually guilty? Set against the backdrop of banking institutions, Ajay Jain’s book is a taut, racy thriller, with a new twist at every turn of the page that keeps the reader on edge.

3. Book: The Death House; Author: Sarah Pinborough; Publisher: Hachette; Pages: 273; Price: Rs. 399

A simple blood test changed Toby’s life. Now he lives in the death house, an out-of-time existence far from the modern world where others who live there are studied by doctors.

Toby spends his days fighting his fear and wondering how much he has left. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace because everybody in the death house dies. What will happen to Toby? Read on to know!

4. Book: Chancing It; Author: Robert Mathews; Publisher: Hachette; Pages: 290; Price: Rs. 499

In the face of political upheaval, turmoil in financial markets and an endless litany of risks, threats and calamities, we all crave certainty. The need to understand chance, risk and uncertainty has never been more pronounced.

But one needs to accept the reality. This book, written by Robert Mathews, carries the central message that while one can never be free of chance, risk and uncertainty, one has the tools to take them on and win. (IANS)

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“A Suitable Girl”: Most Awaited Novel By Vikram Seth, Finally Published

Seth suffered from writer's block after his break-up

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"A Suitable Girl": Most Awaited Novel By Vikram Seth, Finally Published, flickr

Hardly has any novel been awaited with as much curiosity and anticipation in recent times as Vikram Seth’s sequel to the monumental “A Suitable Boy” (1993). Five years on, since he was first expected to deliver the manuscript, the novel is still to see the light of the day. But what seems like a saga of missed deadlines can very well — far from our eyes — be a masterpiece in the making.

“The more I talk of her, the more shy she becomes,” Seth had told this correspondent in 2015 about “A Suitable Girl”, the novel-in-waiting.

Seth, as his literary agent David Godwin puts it, has been known to take his time with his books. The prolonged delay, however, was not acceptable to Hamish Hamilton (an imprint of Penguin Random House) and he was asked to return an advance payment of $1.7 million when the deal was called off. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, an imprint of the British publisher Orion, then acquired the novel — and it was scheduled to release in 2016.

But a flying bird — a friend and confidant of the writer — says that he is now giving the “final touch” to the novel and that one can expect “the big announcement” soon.

Seth released a collection of poems titled “Summer Requiem” in the meanwhile. In the collection, he traces the immutable shiftings of the seasons, the relentless rhythms of a great world that both “gifts and harms”. Composed as they were while he was (which he still is) writing the sequel, several poems in the offering open doors to his mind, or perhaps they may be preludes to the larger narrative that he is weaving.

“I have so carefully mapped/the corners of my mind/that I am forever waking/in a lost country,” he writes in the opening poem. Interestingly, Seth’s companion to “A Suitable Boy” will be a jump sequel — the characters have travelled from the 1950s and it will be very much a novel set in somewhat the present times.

novels By Vikram Seth
novels By Vikram Seth, flickr

In its title poem, he mourns that the “liberated generation lives a restrained youth,” and then adds: “I must forsake attachment”. On another occasion in the book, readers find him lamenting over “the peaceful love” that the narrator has “never found”. In another short poem “Late Light” he writes: “Outside the great world’s gifts and harms/ There must be somewhere I can go/To rest within a lover’s arm/At ease with the impending snow”.

Reportedly, Seth suffered from writer’s block after his break-up with French violinist Phillippe Honor but that was a long time ago and was reflected in “An Equal Music”. He has moved on or has he not?

Nonetheless, it has been about five years since “A Suitable Girl” was first expected to hit the stands but the wait is surely worth it. As writer-politician Shashi Tharoor says about his good friend’s technique — that “Vikram Seth draws an entire roadmap of his novel, planning every minute element in great detail” — the sequel, thanks to all the anticipation and the pressure on the writer, may actually be a masterpiece in the making, as sublime as its counterpart and yet set in the time of its readers.

Vikram Seth is a recipient of the Padma Shri, Sahitya Akademi Award, and among several other prestigious honours, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman. He has been widely translated and is among leading novelists on the global stage. He has published three novels — “The Golden Gate” (1986), “A Suitable Boy” (1993) and “An Equal Music” (1999) — along with several collections of poetry such as “Mappings” and “All You Who Sleep Tonight”.

Also read: Here is all the reason for Bookworms to look ahead for the upcoming year: A List of the Best Stories and Novels in 2017!

Seth — an openly gay man — is also one of the prominent faces of the campaign against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality. (IANS)