The Man Within My Head
Ever since he first read Graham Greene, Pico Iyer has been obsessed by the figure of the writer and by one of the great themes of Greene's work: what it means to be an outsider. Wherever he has travelled—usually as an outsider himself--Iyer has found reminders of Greene's life, observed scenes that might have been written by Greene, written stories that recall Greene. Yet as Iyer recounts the history of his obsession, another phantom image begins to assert itself, one that Iyer had long banished from his inner life--that of his father. Insightful, tender, superbly written, The Man Within my Head is another masterpiece from one of our great travel writers.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Sub title: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
"Annawadi is a slum in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as the Indian economy booms, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective teenager, sees ‘a fortune beyond counting’ in the recyclable garbage that the city’s richer people throw away. He is so fast, sorting waste, that he’s close to lifting his whole family out of the slum. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, is eyeing an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck and the right connections, her sensitive, beautiful teenaged daughter might soon become the first female college graduate in the slum. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a homeless 15-year-old scrap-metal thief, feel themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call ‘the full enjoy.’
But then Abdul the teenaged garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; a terrorist attack and a global recession rock Mumbai; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest human hopes intersect with the harshest realities of life in an Indian megacity, the true contours of a desperately competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the resilience and ingenuity of the people of Annawadi.
In Katherine Boo’s fast-paced and riveting book—beautifully written, rigorously researched and intimately reported—the impact of poverty, inequality, corruption and global change is made human through breathtaking, sometimes heartbreaking, stories that will stay with you forever. "
Sub title: Three Essays
Mr Chidambaram's War 'The low, flat-topped hills of south Orissa have been home to the Dongria Kondh long before there was a country called India or a state called Orissa...' Walking with the Comrades 'The terse, typewritten note slipped under my door in a sealed envelope confirmed my appointment with â€œIndia's single biggest internal security challengeâ€. I'd been waiting for months to hear from them...' Trickledown Revolution 'In the early morning hours of 2 July 2010, in the remote forests of Adilabad, the Andhra Pradesh State Police fired a bullet into the chest of a man called Cherukuri Rajkumar, known to his comrades as Azad...' War has spread from the borders of India to the forests in the very heart of the country. Combining brilliant analysis and reportage by one of India's iconic writers, Broken Republic examines the nature of progress and development in the emerging global superpower, and asks fundamental questions about modern civilization itself.
The Wandering Falcon
The boy known as Tor Baz— the black falcon— wanders between tribes. He meets men who fight under different flags, and women who risk everything if they break their society's code of honour. Where has he come from, and where will destiny take him? Set in the decades before the rise of the Taliban, Jamil Ahmad's stunning debut takes us to the essence of human life in the forbidden areas where the borders of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan meet. Today the 'tribal areas' are often spoken about as a remote region, a hotbed of conspiracies, drone attacks and conflict. In The Wandering Falcon, this highly traditional, honour-bound culture is revealed from the inside for the first time. With rare tenderness and perception, Jamil Ahmad describes a world of custom and cruelty, of love and gentleness, of hardship and survival; a fragile, unforgiving world that is changing as modern forces make themselves known. With the fate-defying story of Tor Baz, he has written an unforgettable novel of insight, compassion and timeless wisdom.
'If Granta's India edition brought to light the brilliant young writer, Arundhati Roy, who won the Booker prize later that year, this collection's equivalent gem of a find is the older but nonetheless astonishing talent of the hitherto unpublished 79-year-old civil servant.' - From the Independent in the UK (Chapter one was featured in Granta's Pakistan issue)
The Pale King
David Foster Wallace's final and most ambitious undertaking — an audacious and hilarious look into the abyss of ordinary life.The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Centre in Peoria, IL, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has. The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death, but it is a deeply intriguing and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook.
One Amazing Thing
A group of nine are trapped in the visa office at an Indian Consulate after a massive earthquake in an American city. Two visa officers on the verge of an adulterous affair; Jiang, a Chinese— Indian woman in her last years; her gifted teenage granddaughter Lily; an ex-soldier haunted by guilt; Uma, an Indian— American girl bewildered by her parents' decision to return to Kolkata after twenty years; Tariq, a young Muslim man angry with the new America; and an enraged and bitter elderly white couple. As they wait to be rescued— or to die— they begin to tell each other stories, each recalling 'one amazing thing' in their life, sharing things they have never spoken of before. Their tales are tragic and life-affirming, revealing what it means to be human and the incredible power of storytelling.
'One Amazing Thing collapses the walls dividing characters and cultures; what endures is a chorus of voices in one single room'— Jhumpa Lahiri.
'Ingeniously conceived and intelligently written, this novel is a fable for our time. The characters, troubled or shattered by their past, vibrate with life whenever they begin to speak. The book is a fun read from the first page to the last'— Ha Jin.
'Chitra Divakaruni understands the power of stories to heal us, make us laugh, and comfort us in the most difficult of circumstances. One Amazing Thing is one powerful and beautifully written book'— Lisa See
Jimmy The Terrorist
In Moazzamabad, UP, too large to be a town and too backward to be a city, a young man stabs a police inspector and is beaten to death. The last words he speaks are, 'My name is Jimmy the Terrorist.' Journalists descend on the town, 'like shrill birds', and a long-time resident decides to tell a story that none of them will know. Jimmy was once Jamaal, son of Rafiq Ansari of Rasoolpur Mohalla, a Muslim neighbourhood in a Hindu town. And his story goes back a long way: to the time when Moazzamabad was named, after Aurangzeb's son; when Rafiq was seduced by the wealth and refinements of Shabbir Manzil and married Shaista; when the Hanuman temple grew ten storeys high and the head priest was elected mayor; when Shaista died, a mosque was brought down in Ayodhya and Rafiq became a mullah. As Jamaal grows up, watching both his father and his neighbourhood change and curfew reach Moazzamabad, he is changed himself. He becomes Jimmy, one among the countless marginalized trying to find a place in the world, dimly aware that the choices that shape their lives are being made in distant places, where they have no influence. Shortlisted for the Man Asian Prize 2009, this spare, compelling novel, as intimate as it is political, confirms Omair Ahmad's reputation as one of the most distinctive and exciting new voices in Indian fiction.
'It isn't every day that one comes across a book that one can commend so unreservedly...[A] swift, elegant tale'— Outlook.
'A masterful (re)telling of stories'— Hindustan Times 'Reminiscent of the best of Indian fables, Sufi sayings and Koranic and Biblical tales. Omair Ahmad's storyteller and begum measure up to Scheherazade'— Verve.
'[The Storyteller's Tale] illuminates, only as stories, at their purest, can do'— First City
The Rivered Earth
"Between 2006 and 2009, Vikram Seth wrote four librettos for the composer Alec Roth and the violinist Philippe Honoré. The first three were about places—China during the Tang Dynasty, the Salisbury house of the poet George Herbert (where Seth lives) and India; the fourth, about the elements, overarched the other three. Collected here together and accompanied by the poet’s own calligraphy, The Rivered Earth is a work of immense beauty. "
Girl Meets Boy
"Girl meets boy. It’s a story as old as time. But what happens when an old story meets a brand new set of circumstances? Ali Smith’s remix of Ovid’s most joyful myth is a story about the kind of fluidity that can’t be bottled and sold. It’s about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation—a story of puns and doubles, reversals and revelations. Funny and fresh, poetic and political, here is a tale of change for the modern world. "
‘A glorious wide-awake dream of a book’—Observer.
‘[This book] delights because it refuses to stop at a single metamorphosis; despite its compactness, its stories multiply and rebound exuberantly, its echoes calling to one another across the pages’—Times Literary Supplement.
‘Smith’s style encompasses both the lyricism of poetry and the energy of a well-told joke, and she has a keen appreciation for the magic of the everyday kind’—Daily Mail "
The End of the Gods
Sub title: The Myth of Ragnarok
Recently evacuated to the British countryside and with World War II raging around her, one young girl is struggling to make sense of her life. Then she is given a book of ancient Norse legends and her inner and outer worlds are transformed. Extremely timely and linguistically stunning, Ragnarok retells the finale of Norse mythology. A story of the destruction of life on this planet and the end of the gods themselves: what more relevant myth could any modern writer choose? Just as Wagner used this dramatic and catastrophic struggle for the climax of his Ring Cycle, so A.S. Byatt now reinvents it in all its intensity and glory.