HT Picks; New Reads

A period of deceptive calm

Gazing Eastwards is a lively and arresting account of Romila Thapar’s first visit to China in 1957. She went as a research assistant to the Sri Lankan art historian Anil de Silva, and worked on two major Buddhist sites in Maijishan and Dunhuang. It was a period of deceptive calm in the country, just prior to traumatic events such as the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward that churned and transformed Chinese society. Although China was changing with Mao’s rise to power, much of the old ways remained. Her observations of her time in China proved the reader with a profound, funny, original and constantly insightful look at one of the world’s oldest and most complex countries. *

Life’s negations balanced with triumphs

In a nation struggling with corruption and the corrosion of human values, the prime minister is all set to become a ruthless dictator. From his sickbed Krishnappa Gowda, revolutionary leader of the peasants, grapples with his conscience and the schemes of party men and flattery from hangers-on. Memories come and go as his mind, tethered to a failing body, reaches for the true meaning of life.
In Ananthamurty’s hands life’s cruel negations – caste, poverty, pettiness – are delicately balanced with its triumphs – the splendor of nature, the majesty of poetry, the delight of friendship, the deliverance of love. *

The almost-biography of a fictional writer

Born into a family of rural wealth and near-feudal influence in a village nestled in British Malabar, Koyiloth Thazhe Narayanan Kottoor knows little of want. But as a patriotic fervour grips the country in the last decades of the Raj, a veritable avalanche of new idea and ideals shapes the young KTN.
Award-winning author Thachom Poyil Rajeevan weaves a magical almost-biography of a fictional writer, one inhabited by goddesses and ghosts, a fortune-telling patrot, dead humans in the avatar of crows, and a blind woman who hears and sees better than anyone else. Masterfully translated from the original Malayalam, this is a poignant exploration of the power of writing, the chaos of a country’s rebirth and the life of an idealist caught up in the maelstrom. *

*All matter from the book flap

Source: Read Full Article