Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Read & Remembered

An effort to remember the books read over the last 4/5 years.

Salman Rushdie: Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses, Fury, Shalimar The Clown, Step Across This Line (collected non fiction) : My favorite author. Fell in love with him after reading Midnight's Children. There's nothing I can possibly say about him which has already not been said.

Rohinton Mistry: A Fine Balance, Family Matters : A writer with an eye for detail. He can portray emotions as few can. As some critic put it, Mistry doesn't require the magic realism of a his prose, the mundane becomes magical. Should also thank Mistry for earning me my biggest blog fan!

Amitav Ghosh: In An Antique Land, Shadow Lines, The Hungry Tide: Shadow Lines is a wonderful novel. It talks about geographic boundaries, and others which divide and unite us. The author keeps shifting time frames which makes it a difficult read and tough to grasp at times, but this was the novel which hooked me to Ghosh. In An Antique Land is an account of the author's travels as a student through Egypt. I loved The Hungry Tide because I had earlier been to the Sunderbans which has been brought to life beautifully by Ghosh. The struggle between land and water, man and beast and how the Tide rules everything there.

Albert Camus: The Stranger (aka The Outsider), The Plague: Just finished reading The Plague and believe me, it's an absolute masterpiece. Will soon compile and put up a post on it consisting purely of quotes from the book.

Leon Uris: Exodus, The Haj: My interest in the Middle East, Arab-Israel conflict was totally due to Exodus. To me the best fact based fiction ever written. Would recommend both these books to anyone who wants to know the story behind Israel.

William Darlymple: City OF Djinns, At The Court Of The Fish Eyed Goddess

The Impressionist - Hari Kunzru : A very interesting read with a lot of Rushdie in it.

Kim - Rudyard Kipling : It's a classic I know and it was good but I expected more.

Soul Mountain - Gao Xingjian: A semi autobiographical account by China's first Nobel laureate in literature. The author's use of I and You to depict the same being is an utterly unique and amazing concept as he goes on describing his journey through China in search of the Soul Mountain. The novel is steeped in Mao's exploits, the Cultural Revolution, the effects of industrialization, vanishing Giant Pandas and more. It has a magical element to it and as the blurb at the end of the book puts it perfectly, it's like walking through mist.

Red Poppies - Alai: This one takes us to Tibet, before the Chinese invasion. A land ruled by warlords. A land full of lust and sin. And how eventually opium yielding poppies destroy it and its people.

An Equal Music - Vikram Seth: Its hard to believe how an Indian writer could so beautifully conjure up a world of Western Classical Music. Replete with details of a string quartet and Bach and Beethoven, it is quite unlike any novel written by an Indian writer. Another must read.

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini: Absolutely loved the book. Its a poignant novel, written in very simple prose and even though has its fair share of 'Bollywoodesque' coincidences, yet it remains one of my favorites till date.

The Swallows Of Kabul - Yasmina Khadra: Bought it after reading The Kite Runner. Another novel based in war torn Afghanistan, not as good a read as the former though.

My Name Is Red - Orhan Pamuk

A Sense Of The World- Jason Roberts

To Sir With Love - E.R. Braithwaite

Tuesdays With Morrie - Mitch Albom : Touching

Princess - Jean Sasson: A rather disturbing but true account of the plight of females in Saudia Arabia. And this one belonged to the Royal Family!

Those Days - Sunil Gangopadhyay & Tamas - Bhisham Sahni : Read them during my first Humanities course at IIT, ' Modern Indian Fiction In Translation'. Was particularly impressed by the former due to its sheer scope and epic nature. Have never read a book with so many characters. Talks about 2 families in pre - independent India, the time of the zamindars and has several historical characters like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Michael Madhusudan Dutt in it.

The World Is Flat - Thomas Friedman: Outsourcing, Supply Chain Management, China, India, Globalisation, Infosys... a very well written book full of anecdotes and small stories explaining the world we live in.

The Life And Times Of Michael K - J.M. Coetzee : The simplicity of Michael K leaves you speechless. A superb depiction of South Africa amidst the civil war.

Above Average - Amitabha Bagchi : The inspiration behind this

Complete Guide To Guys - Dave Barry : Hilarious! A total read aloud book to guys. Laughed till my stomach hurt.

When We Were Orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro : Another one of those books that I bought reading the blurb and title. Set in Shanghai and England, it's a crime fiction. Didn't particularly enjoy it though it certainly added to my knowledge of Chinese history.

There could be more, but right now I can't remember. If and when I do, I will put them up here.
And right now I have about 14 books in my room which I haven't read. So please no more suggestions for the time being!


anonymous coward said...

blaady hell!!

aaap laaawrance ko bhool gaye!

on a slightly different note, you make me feel like an unpahd :(.
must have read only 5-6 out of these and 2 of them were courtesy of hukkas

Atish said...

couldn't get beyond 100 pages of that book yaar.. so doesnt count as read. :)

cathatfished said...

im not reading your blog anymore. ive never felt like a bigger loser - will not show my face here till i have redeemed myself with a super-size dose of heavy lit... :(
byebye chicklit :(

Old Fogey said...

You missed Rushdie's Shame from your list.

I have read at least 6 from your list including Uris's Exodus - in the late '60s it was almost contemporaneous for me!

Old Fogey said...


Meant say thanks for your recommendations which I shall add to my reading list.

I have only recently started reading contemporary Indian writers in English - in my youth I read people like Dilip Hiro, Mulk Raj Anand, R K Narayan, Manohar Malgonkar, etc. Later my interest switched to hard sci-fi like Clarke, Niven, Robinson, Baxter, Bear, Benford, Stephenson, etc.

I haven't read anything by Mistry but have read Seth's An Equal Music - as I write this, Seth's A Suitable Boy, Ghosh's The Hungry Tide and Ondaatje's The English Patient remain unread in a pile in the spare room!

I can recommend the follow-up books to Jean Sasson's Princess, Princess Sultana's Daughters and Princess Sultana's Circle. Also worth reading is her Mayada - Daughter of Iraq for an insight into Iraq's history including an account of life in Saddam's Torture Jails.
(I am looking forward to getting hold of her The Rape of Kuwait.)

I know you said no more suggestions but I notice there is no sci-fi in your list. So I suggest you read at least Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and perhaps his The Diamond Age.

(I found this blog thro' Mayank's Delhi Walla blog!)

Atish said...

@Old Fogey.. it always feels great when an unexpected reader comments on ur blog .. :)
yeah i know i havent read any sci-fi ..hopefully someday
thanks for the suggestions and the comments :)