Jaya Posts

Harry Potter Colouring Books

No more a child’s play!

Harry Potter Colouring BooksColouring books have achieved phenomenal success in a very short time which clearly indicates that the child within us refuses to grow. In a recent study, it’s revealed that these books are great solution to bring relaxation in our lifes. People tend to forget their worries and work load as they get engross in exquisite scenes and patterns.

According to Amazon as well, the top selling books are not fiction, classics or sci-fi but adult colouring books! and

We are delighted to bring you the magic of Harry Potter in the form of colouringHP Colouring Book books from Insight Editions.

Insight Editions creates illustrated books of distinction that celebrate cultural milestones in entertainment, history, and the arts. These lavishly produced and visually stimulating volumes are dedicated to the skillful interplay of word and image. Elegant and informative, books from Insight Editions showcase the best of art and photography in exquisite presentations of the bookmaker’s craft.

Let the child within you get the taste of this magical potion.

Priced at Rs. 799/- each

 

Bharti Taneja

Simon & Schuster India

Bharti.Taneja@simonandschuster.co.in

20 Feb 2016

Penguin Random House signs a co-publishing deal with Manjul Publishing House

PRH

Penguin Random House reinforces commitment to India’s regional languages
New co-publishing deal with Manjul Publishing
Vaishali Mathur appointed to
Head of Language Publishing and Rights

Penguin Random House in India today strengthened its commitment to ensuring its authors’ works reach the widest possible readership by announcing a new co-publishing partnership for local language translation with Manjul Publishing House and the appointment of Vaishali Mathur to Head of Language Publishing and Rights.

Under the partnership with Manjul Publishing, Penguin Random House titles will be made available in Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi in the first roll out phase. An initial list of about 50 titles will be released over the course of 2016, growing to a wider range in the coming years.  This list will encompass both adult and children’s titles across fiction and non-fiction, and consist of both newly released titles and some of Penguin Random House’s most popular perennial bestsellers. To drive this initiative, Vaishali Mathur will take on the newly created role of Head of Language Publishing and Rights.  Alongside her current role as Executive Editor for commercial publishing, Vaishali will take on a wider responsibility for further language sales as well as rights deals to language publishers in India and worldwide.

CEO Gaurav Shrinagesh comments:

“It has long been Penguin Random House’s aim to provide books and content for a large range of readers, not only throughout India but also across the globe.  Through this new strategic partnership with Manjul Publishing and the appointment of Vaishali to oversee our translation and rights sales, I am delighted that we will now be able to expand the reach of our authors’ works across languages and territories.”

Vaishali Mathur, Executive Editor and Head of Language Publishing and Rights adds:

I am extremely enthused with this opportunity to bring Penguin Random House’s extensive catalogue of Indian and International books to the readers of local languages across the country. With this program we will be able to reach out to a larger readership and provide our authors with a wider canvas.”

Vikas Rakheja, Managing Director, Manjul Publishing House says:

“We at Manjul Publishing House are thrilled to be associating with Penguin Random House in India to co-publish their select titles in Hindi and other Indian language translations. At Manjul we hold the unique distinction of single-handedly creating the niche segment of Indian language translations in the Indian publishing industry and are pleased that we will now be able to apply this expertise to popular Penguin Random House titles. We are certain that this co-publishing venture will successfully take mainstream titles from the Penguin Random House stable to the vernacular reader in India, thereby expanding their reach considerably.”

In addition to focusing on translations to local languages, Penguin Random House in India has long been the leading publisher for translation of works into English.  Through its acclaimed Penguin Classics list as well as individual translations, its authors have been lauded with awards including those of the Sahitya Akademi, the Crossword Book Award and for the past three years its translated fiction has appeared on the shortlist for the prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

Caroline Newbury

VP Marketing and Corporate Communications

Random House India

Penguin Random House

 cnewbury@penguinrandomhouse.in

20 Feb 2016

Pocket Penguins

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POCKET PENGUINS

Introducing 20 Pocket Penguins

THE   FUTURE   OF   PENGUIN   CLASSICS

26 May 2016

A-format paperbacks

 

Pocket Penguins are the bold next step from the world’s most recognizable publishing brand.  They are the future of Penguin Classics.

On 26 May 2016 we launch with a carefully curated list of twenty titles, highlighting a mix of the famous and unjustly overlooked that celebrate the pure pleasure of reading. Colour coded to reflect their original language, Pocket Penguins contain complete texts in a compact format designed to pick up, pocket, and go.

“These books are intimate, grand, funny, widescreen, painful, visionary – and we have been put on earth to make you want to read them!”

Simon Winder, Publishing Director

 

A REVOLUTION IN READING

In the space of one year, over 2.2 million Little Black Classics have been sold worldwide, demonstrating a huge new appetite for reading the Classics.

A RETURN TO COLOUR AFTER DECADES OF BLACK

 Since 1946, Penguin has been publishing classics in winning formulas and pushing the boundaries of cover design. Our use of oil paintings on black covers paved the way for a look that dominates classics publishing today. Now the timeless tri-band simplicity and bold colours of Pocket Penguins will show the power of leaving authors’ names and titles to speak for themselves.

On the 70th anniversary of the first Penguin Classics, Penguin’s Art Director, Jim Stoddart, has produced a new design that is both approachable and contemporary.

“The new range blossoms from black into the technicolour of Penguin’s heyday. While this is a comforting nod to past Penguin, this is very much a series of books for the modern age.”

Jim Stoddart, Art Director

THE FIRST TWENTY

THE MASTER AND MARGARITA                                         RUSSIAN

Mikhail Bulgakov

This ribald, carnivalesque satire – featuring the Devil, true love and a gun-toting cat – was written in the darkest days of the Soviet Union and became an underground sensation.

 

MRS DALLOWAY                                                                  ENGLISH

Virginia Woolf

The lives of a woman preparing for a party and a young man suffering from shell-shock converge on one June day in 1920’s London, in Woolf’s great novel of time, memory, war and the city.

 

THE SECRET AGENT                                                              ENGLISH

Joseph Conrad

Set in an Edwardian London underworld of terrorist bombers, spies, grotesques and fanatics, Conrad’s dark, unsettling masterpiece asks if we ever really know others, or ourselves.

 

THE GOOD SOLDIER SVEJK                                                 CZECH

Jaroslav Hasek

Drunkard, malingerer, oaf and possible genius – the story of Czech soldier Svejk and his misadventures in the First World War is one of the most hilarious and subversive satires on war ever.

 

THE LOST ESTATE                                                                  FRENCH

Alain-Fournier

A novel of desperate yearning and vanished adolescence, the story of Meaulnes and his restless search for a lost, enchanted world has the atmosphere of a dream and the purity of a fairytale.

 

THE CALL OF CTHULHU                                                       ENGLISH

P. Lovecraft

Mad, macabre tales of demonic spirits, hideous rites, ancient curses and alien entities lurking beneath the surface of rural New England, from the man who created the modern horror story.

 

THE BETROTHED                                                                   ITALIAN

Alessandro Manzoni

Two lovers must face tyrants, war, riots, plague and famine in this teeming panorama of seventeenth-century Italian life.

 

METAMORPHOSIS                                                               GERMAN

Franz Kafka

An ordinary man wakes up to find himself turned into a giant cockroach in Kafka’s masterpiece of unease and black humour.

 

THE NOTEBOOKS OF MALTE LAURIDS BRIGGE                               GERMAN

Rainer Maria Rilke

This dreamlike meditation on being young and alone in Paris is a feverish work of nerves, angst and sublime beauty from one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets.

 

THE HOUSE OF ULLOA                                                        SPANISH

Emilia Pardo Bazan

Set in a crumbling Spanish mansion, this gloriously comic and gothic novel follows the fortunes of an innocent young priest as he enters a world of moral decadence, sexual intrigue and corruption.

FATHERS AND SONS                                                            RUSSIAN

Ivan Turgenev

This humane, moving masterpiece of families, love, duels, heartache, failure and the clash between generations caused a scandal in nineteenth-century Russia with its portrayal of youthful nihilism.

 

OUT OF AFRICA                                                                    ENGLISH

Karen Blixen

In one of the most passionate memoirs ever written, Karen Blixen recalls running a farm in Africa at the start of the twentieth century, and the love affair that changed her life.

 

WALDEN                                                                                                ENGLISH

Henry David Thoreau

One man’s account of his solitary and self-sufficient home in the New England woods, this is the original book about abandoning our ‘lives of quiet desperation’ and getting back to nature.

 

A PARISIAN AFFAIR                                                             FRENCH

Guy de Maupassant

Sparkling, darkly humorous tales of high society, playboys, courtesans, peasants, sex and savagery in nineteenth-century France, from the father of the short story.

 

THE BEAST WITHIN                                                              FRENCH

Emile Zola

Zola’s tense, gripping psychological thriller of adultery, corruption and murder on the French railways is a graphic and violent exploration of the darkest recesses of the criminal mind.

 

THE COSSACKS and HADJI MURAT                                    RUSSIAN

Leo Tolstoy

Two masterly Russian tales of freedom, fighting and great warriors in the majestic mountains of the Caucasus, inspired by Tolstoy’s years as a soldier living amid the Cossack people.

 

THE MALAY ARCHIPELAGO                                                                ENGLISH

Alfred Russel Wallace

The great Victorian scientist’s heroic adventures across South-East Asia, from Singapore to the wilds of New Guinea, encountering head-hunters, jungles, birds of paradise and new discoveries that would change the world.

 

THE RAINBOW                                                                      ENGLISH

D.H. Lawrence

Following three generations of a family in rural Nottinghamshire as they struggle, fight, labour on the land and discover who they are, Lawrence’s rhapsodic, poetic and mystical work rewrote the English novel.

 

MY CHILDHOOD                                                                   RUSSIAN

Maxim Gorky

In one of the most moving, raw accounts of childhood ever written, Maxim Gorky describes, with appalling clarity and startling freshness, growing up amid poverty and brutality in Tsarist Russia.

 

O PIONEERS!                                                                         ENGLISH

Willa Cather

A rapturous work of savage beauty, Willa Cather’s 1913 tale of a pioneer woman who tames the wild, hostile lands of the Nebraskan prairie is also the story of what it means to be American.

For more information: Caroline Newbury, cnewbury@randomhouse.co.in

20 Feb 2016   

Salil Tripathi, “Detours: Songs of the Open Road”

Detours( Noted London-based Indian journalist Salil Tripathi’s third book, Detours, is a collection of his column/essays on travel writing. This book is meant to be savoured. I was able to read one, maximum two, essays at a time. There was so much to absorb and appreciate in each essay in terms of the rich cultural experiences, the noises, colour, smells, details about the landscape, socio-political characteristics of the places he visits at that particular time with some history deftly blended in. Every single element seems to have his attention for detail. For instance, each chapter heading is carefully selected, it is appropriate for what follows in the essay but also resonates with the reader at many levels. It is rare to find such craftsmanship in a book today. Salil Tripathi has been a man of letters for some decades giving him immense practice in relying upon words to share, comment, dissect and analyse an experience but he does so without ever being dull. So reading Detours is infinitely pleasurable since not for a second does one miss the lack of photographs, sketches or any other form of illustration to support the travelogue. Just focus on the man and his words. This is armchair tourism at its finest!

I am posting an extract from the introduction reproduced with permission from the publishers.) 

As I started working on the essays, I looked back at the great travel writing I had read—Mark Twain, Eric Newby, Salil TripathiPaul Theroux, Ian Buruma, Pico Iyer, and William Dalrymple are among the writers through whose words I began to look at the world differently. I had also read many entertaining accounts, of an American or British writer abroad—like S J Perelman or George Mikes—and enjoyed the tragicomedy that followed. But getting off the beaten track and travelling on roads not taken to reach quieter places seemed so much more enticing. I also read many accounts of the outsider looking in at India, the western gaze trying to make sense of the mysterious east. Mine was an attempt to look at the world through Indian eyes—not as if it was an empire-striking-back, for that would be too presumptuous: how can anyone born in India claim to speak on behalf of a billion people? Rather, mine would be an attempt to look at the world through a sensibility that had been shaped by India and later tinged by other cultures.

I hadn’t left India until 1975 when I was still thirteen, on a tour organised by my school to Nepal. In 1979 I spent a few weeks in Scotland on a student exchange programme. In 1983 I went to the United States to study and returned home in 1986. I moved abroad in 1991, when I left for Singapore, and then in 1999, for England. Each journey affected in some way how I saw the world. My work—as a correspondent first, and later, as a researcher/advocate for human rights organisations—has taken me to fifty-five countries (including India). I’ve learned something new from each visit; I’ve made lasting friendships in many cities and towns around the world. It is impossible to write down each experience. This book attempts to reveal the world I have seen.

The book is divided into three parts: War & After, Words & Images, and Loss & Remembrance. The first section, War & After, deals with places that have been deeply affected by armed conflict or have had human rights challenges—Bogotá, Jakarta, Berlin, Yangon, Mostar, Phnom Penh, Cape Town and Johannesburg, Singapore, Lagos, and Istanbul. In the next section, Words & Images, I write about places that I have understood better because certain writers or artists have made those places more vivid: Bombay (now Mumbai), Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Nairobi and Naivasha, Arusha and Kilimanjaro, Granada, Valparaiso and Isla Negra, Kyoto, Srimongol and Shilaidaha, Shanghai, and New York. The third section, Loss & Remembrance, is the most personal; it is, in a sense, about Karuna Sirkar, my wife who died in 2006. I have written about the places I had travelled with her in the two decades we were together, or where I could feel her presence on later visits; or the places where I went with my sons Udayan and Ameya after her passing, as the three of us tried to pick ourselves up to understand the meaning of our shattering loss: Ludlow and Proctersville, Collioure, Geneva, Stockholm, Venice, Beachy Head, Ålesund and Oslo, and San Francisco.

Salil Tripathi Detours: Songs of the Open Road Tranquebar Press, an imprint of Westland Ltd., 2016. Hb. pp. 380. Rs. 695 

16 Feb 2016

Alex Gino, “George”


George“Are you nervous about the audition? Kelly asked. “Don’t be. My dad says that men performing in non-traditional gender roles is good for feminism. He says it’s important, as an artist, to be in touch with his feminine side.”

Scott snuck glances her way too, but where Mom’s eyes were filled with concern and confusion, Scott looked at George as if his sibling made sense to him for the first time. George had never been gladder to have an older brother.

 George heard her name coming from kids talking to their parents, as well as the word boy. Adults’s heads turned her way. Most looked at her with open faces of surprise. A few smiled and waved. Others crinkled their faces in disgust. George stepped offstage and out of view of staring eyes. 

“Well, you can’t control who your children are, but you can certainly support them, am I right?” Principal Maldonado’s earrings sparkled in the auditorium light. 

Alex Gino’s debut novel George was twelve years in the making and it has already won an award — the 2016 Mike Morgan and Larry Roman’s Stonewall Book Award for Children. (http://www.alexgino.com/ )  George  is about a ten-year-old boy who believes s/he is a girl. She takes her best friend, Kelly, into confidence and it takes Kelly a while to come to terms with the revelation. Later Kelly proves to be George’s best ally when she quietly gives up the lead role of Charlotte the spider in the class play of Charlotte’s Web without the permission of their teachers. George proves to be an incredible actor. The audience claps approvingly many of whom do not even realise that George is a boy!

George is fantastic! So sensitively done. The ending is a bit too convenient and sugary, but satisfying. To put in the tough conversations about being a transgender, hormonal therapy and the possibility of surgery as an adult could not have been easy. The reactions of adults and children ( including the bullying incidents) to George are beautifully done. The range of emotions George faces from pure disgust to his kind to the kind-heartedness of the school principal to quiet acceptance by the elder brother, Scott, to coming-to-terms but ultimately joy by Kelly. Using theatre as a literary technique to help George in coming out is cliched but works very well. Even setting the stage with the tiny Shakespearean drama background in the early pages is neatly done.

It took a while for me to understand the author’s name, Alex Gino, as an acknowledgement of her being a transgender and referring to herself in the plural on the book jacket. It is not common. The idea of using literature as  a way of opening conversation about sexuality with children is good.

These conversations about transgender rights have been gaining momentum for some time. But last year with the news of Olympic decathlete champion Caitlyn Marie Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, announcing her transformation as a transgender caught the world by storm. It opened up debates about diversity and LGBTQ rights. When the announcement broke there were some fabulous opinion articles published, including one in the Guardian by a transgender activist. ( Alas, I am unable to locate the link for now.) But there are a few more essays that are worth reading such as Urvashi Butalia on transgender or hijra, Mona Ahmed in Granta, ( http://granta.com/monas-story/), photographer Dayanita Singh’s book on Mona called Myself Mona Ahmed http://www.dayanitasingh.com/myself-mona-ahmed),  Scott Esposito’s essay, “The Last Redoubt”, published in the White Review ( November 2014, http://www.thewhitereview.org/features/the-last-redoubt/ ) and Scott Esposito on Juliet Jacques’s “Beyond the Trans-Memoir” in the Literary Hub ( September 2015, http://lithub.com/beyond-the-trans-memoir/). In India, the Supreme Court ruled in 2014, that transgenders will be introduced as a “third gender category”.  Also how can one forget Welsh author Jan Morris’s memoir, Conundrum, published in 1974 and advertised as a personal memoir of transsexualism.

Challenge will lie in having this book discovered by the target audience. Even if you have liberal minded librarians and educationists willing to keep the book, parents will be up in arms. Gatekeepers come in all hues. Also a big question will be if knowing one’s sexual orientation is possible as a ten-year-old — it is debatable. Is it really possible that George can be so confident and sure about herself and spew so much information about being a transgender? The confident voice is that of a transgender adult. Also youngsters like to experiment. It’s a given. Absolutely nothing wrong with it. So a question that begs to be asked: do such books address diversity in literature and add to social debates or do they given young readers the license to explore sexuality and provide them with information? And George does discuss and analyse a lot of ways about becoming a transgender person.  All said and done, George, is a significantly magnificent contribution to young adult literature and must be read.

Alex Gino, George, Scholastic Press, New York, 2015. Hb. pp.200. 

16 Feb 2016

 

 

 

On BBC Radio commenting on Coldplay’s new video, “Hymn for the Weekend” ( 15 Feb 2016)

The Cultural Frontline On Coldplay

Listen in pop-out player

Last Saturday, The Cultural Frontline featured a report about the controversy around Coldplay’s latest video. It is set in India and is accused of misrepresentation and cultural appropriation. Rajan Datar speaks to Sandip Roy, the journalist behind the report to ask why the BBC World Service decided to weigh in on the story, and listener, Jaya Bhattacharji Rose from New Delhi, gives her reaction to the piece.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03hv42m#play

15 Feb 2016 

Press Release: HACHETTE INDIA TO RELEASE HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS I & II SCRIPT BOOK

HachetteHACHETTE INDIA TO RELEASE

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

PARTS I & II SCRIPT BOOK

 

Little, Brown Book Group announces today that they will publish the script book Harry Harry PotterPotter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II, an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne written to be enjoyed on stage. The Special Rehearsal Edition of the script book (hardback, £20) will be published at 00.01 on 31st July 2016, following the play’s opening on 30th July, bringing the eighth Harry Potter story to a wider, global audience. The script eBook will be published simultaneously with the print editions by Pottermore, in collaboration with Little, Brown Book Group in the UK, and Scholastic in the US and Canada.

David Shelley, CEO of Little, Brown Book Group said: ‘We are so thrilled to be publishing the script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. J.K. Rowling and her team have received a huge number of appeals from fans who can’t be in London to see the play and who would like to read the play in book format – and so we are absolutely delighted to be able to make it available for them.’

About the book/play:

The eighth story. Nineteen years later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

 

  1. The Special Rehearsal Edition of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script book will comprise the version of the play script early in the production’s preview period, several weeks prior to the opening performances. The preview process allows the creative team to rehearse changes and/or to explore specific scenes further, in front of a live audience, before the official opening performances on Saturday 30th July. As such the script is subject to change after the Special Rehearsal Edition is published, which is why this edition will only be available for a limited time, to be replaced by the Definitive Collector’s Edition at a later date. More details about the Definitive Collector’s Edition will be announced in due course.

 

  1. J. K. Rowling is the author of the bestselling Harry Potter series of seven books, published between 1997 and 2007, which have sold over 450 million copies worldwide, are distributed in more than 200 territories and translated into 79 languages, and have been turned into eight blockbuster films.

She has written three companion volumes in aid of charity: Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in aid of Comic Relief; and The Tales of Beedle the Bard in aid of her children’s charity Lumos.

In 2012, J.K. Rowling’s digital entertainment and e-commerce company Pottermore was launched, where fans can enjoy her new writing and immerse themselves deeper in the wizarding world.

Her first novel for adult readers, The Casual Vacancy, was published in September 2012 and adapted for TV by the BBC in 2015.  Her crime novels, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, were published in 2013 (The Cuckoo’s Calling), 2014 (The Silkworm) and 2015 (Career of Evil), and are to be adapted for a major new television series for BBC One, produced by Brontë Film and Television.

J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard commencement speech was published in 2015 as an illustrated book, Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination, and sold in aid of her charity Lumos and university–wide financial aid at Harvard.

In addition to J.K. Rowling’s collaboration on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II, an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, she is also making her screenwriting debut with the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a further extension of the wizarding world, due for release in November 2016.

Avanija Sundaramurti, Head of Marketing: avanija.sundaramurti@hachetteindia.com

Nupur Kumar, Marketing Executive: Nupur.kumar@hachetteindia.com

Shobhita Narayan, Marketing Executive: Shobhita.narayan@hachetteindia.com

10 February 2016

“The Penguin Book of the British Short Story: Vols 1& 2”, edited by Philip Hensher

Penguin Book of Short StoryPhilip Hensher’s The Penguin Book of the British Short Story: Vols 1& 2 is a fabulous collection of writing. It does a broad sweep from Daniel Defoe to Zadie Smith, along the way including William Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthony Trollope, Max Beerbohm, P.G. Wodehouse, Evelyn Waugh, Roald Dahl, V.S. Pritchett, Naipaul, A.S. Byatt, Ali Smith et al.  Here is Philip Hensher in The Guardian writing about this project: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/06/british-short-story-philip-hensher-anthology , 6 Nov 2015.

Putting together such collections is always a subjective exercise. Philip Hensher too Vol 2recognises that such anthologies are subjective collections as is evident in his analysis of similar exercises undertaken by literary stalwarts like A. S. Byatt and Khushwant Singh. Every editor has their own principle of selection.  Hensher has been criticised for his selection of writers, at times seeming almost arbitrary on whom he includes or excludes preferring to rely on “canonical classics”. ( FT Review: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/462cdbcc-7f0b-11e5-98fb-5a6d4728f74e.html#axzz3zeTphElu , 6 Mov 2015) Yet he writes magnificently on the publication history of the short story in Britain. It is pure delight for the literary historian and a lay reader. He charts the rise of the short story as a form published first in periodicals and singly. The practice of anthologizing stories began in the early twentieth century when some of the best authors who had earlier been published in journals found it possible to put together a volume for sale by a publisher. Also the length of a short story continues to be a debatable point. It could be from 2,000 words to more than 30,000 words. He observes that a short story was usually written as single stories in journals by unestablished writers and these could be “very much stranger and more experimental than stories in a collection for a mainstream publisher”.  As a form what made the British short story unique was its capacity for topicality, written as a commentary on a topical situation. But now the principal outlet for short stories seem to be competitions. These may offer reasonable prizes but at times these are funded by the eager contestants paying to enter.

There have been discussions about how relevant are these two fat volumes of short stories. Is there any point in buying these hardback print editions when a) most of these stories are available freely online and b) there is little diversity and inclusiveness and male writers outnumber women, not a true representation of modern British writing. Frankly, I think there is. There is something to be gained by reading familiar writers and discovering some unknown ones in this structured manner. Also it helps in organising oneself to read all those contemporary authors who were left out for various reasons such as David Constantine, AL Kennedy, Helen Simpson, Clive Sinclair, Rose Tremain, and Hanif Kureishi. It becomes even more problematic when the article, “The” is used in the book title, implicitly stressing this is a definitive collection of short stories from Britain.

All said and done these volumes are set to be a literary landmark. Buy them for your reading pleasure or academic interest — it is immaterial. They will make a wonderful addition to any personal or institutional library.

Philip Hensher The Penguin Book of the British Short Story ( Vols 1 & 2) Penguin Classics, Penguin Random House UK, London, 2015. Hb. pp. 1400+ 

9 Feb 2016

Kiran Manral: Karmic Kids

kiran-manral-2Kiran Manral’s Karmic Kids: The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You! is a book of parenting advice she shared on her very popular blog in the first decade of her son’s life. She closed the blog once he turned ten. In her inimitable style of blending frankness, honesty, humour and an ability to laugh at herself too, Kiran Manral records the various stages of her brat’s life from infancy to a ten-year-old while sharing invaluable parenting tips. The most sensible advice that seems to be stressed in the book though never stated explicitly is motherhood and parenting does not come naturally. It needs to be learned on the job which is relentless and never ending. It is not necessarily the chore it can seem at times despite the sleepless nights, the anxiety in being responsible for a blob that slowly transforms into a little human being. It is rewarding and a pleasure and she would not want it any other way. She intersperses it with advice from various experts on parenting and caregiving of a child. It helps in bolstering the book instead of relegating as just one more memoir to the many in the market. By writing in this accessible style, Kiran is able to discuss a range of issues like child sexual abuse, co-sleeping with parents, helicopter parenting, discipline, sex-education for the children, sibling / rivalry, teaching children to be independent and empowered, etc. Her writing is forthright without being preachy, it is honest and humourous. It resonates with the readers for sharing parental anecdotes that seem to be universal in the challenges of bringing up children. The last time I read a sane and practical book on parenting within the Indian context were those written by Gouri Dange.

This is a fabulous book — highly recommended.  Good stuff!

Kiran Manral Karmic Kids: The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You! Hay House Publishers India, Delhi, 2015. Pb. pp. 250. Rs 299

Paul Kalanithi – ” When Breath Becomes Air”

When breath becomes air“…I found myself increasingly often arguing that direct experience of life-and-death questions was essential to generating substantial moral opinions about them. Words began to feel as weightless as the breath that carried them. Stepping back, I realized that I was merely confirming what I already knew: I wanted that direct experience. It was only in practicing medicine that I could pursue a serious biological philosophy. Moral speculation was puny compared to moral action. ( p.43)

Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air is an account of his being17856882._SY540_ diagnosed with cancer, the birth of his daughter, rediscovering religion (though his parents were Christian and Hindu) and his death, as narrated in an epilogue by his wife, Lucy. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful book written with surgical precision and an objective insight that only a doctor can possess. It comes across throughout the book but is evident when Paul Kalanithi is recalling a terribly acute back spasm he had while at a railway station. As he lay on the hard wooden bench to manage the pain he was reciting the name of every single muscle that was paining.  In Jan 2014 he wrote an essay for the New York Times called, “How long have I got left?” ( http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/25/opinion/sunday/how-long-have-i-got-left.html ) and it went viral. Subsequently he wrote/interviewed for Stanford Medicine in Spring 2014 called, “Before I go” ( http://stanmed.stanford.edu/2015spring/before-i-go.html ).

Paul Kalanithi was a voracious reader when he was a child. His father and his elder brother were doctors but when Paul applied to university, his first preference were the literature and history courses. But before leaving his then girlfriend in Arizona encouraged him to read a “low brow” book that she had enjoyed instead of the “high culture” reading he was constantly immersed in. This brow book influenced Paul considerably. It talked about the importance of the mind and the brain. After finishing the book, he browsed through the courses being offered at Stanford and began to explore some of the biological science classes too. He turned out to be an exceptional student who would survive the 88-hour week and more, plus study and remained top of the class. Unfortunately cancer intervened in the eighteen months of his residency. This put immense pressure on his marriage to Lucy who was also at Stanford. But despite the hiccups, Lucy and Paul were together through the first phase of his treatment. At this point he did not require chemotherapy as the cancer began to respond to the oncologist’s treatment. So much so, Paul returned to work a few months later, although on a lighter schedule. Within days he had returned to his full workload of surgeries and was in the OT every day. Unfortunately soon the cancer returned. This time far more virulently. He read his own scans at the end of a long day at work. Here is a very moving excerpt from the book published in the New Yorker on 11 January 2016 where Paul recollects his last day at work — “My last day as a surgeon”.  (http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/my-last-day-as-a-surgeon )

Paul Kalanithi with CadyPaul left the manuscript incomplete on his computer. He requested his wife to complete it. Lucy Kalanithi has written a heartrendingly poignant essay as the epilogue to the book. Like her husband, Lucy too is a medical professional, but there is marked difference in their writing styles. Unlike her husband who brings in his love for literature with his passion for medicine to write crisply and objectively, Lucy writes gently, calmly, but the pain at losing her much beloved husband is unmistakable. She completes the book by describing his last day, holding his eight-month-old daughter for the last time, the funeral, the memorial service and his grave. ( I was weeping by the time I finished reading the essay.) On 6 January 2016, Lucy Kalanithi wrote in the New York Times, “My Marriage Didn’t End When I Became a Widow”. ( http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/06/my-marriage-didnt-end-when-i-became-a-widow/) It describes some of the memories she recounts in the epilogue.

When Breath Becomes Air would be better seen as having been written by husband and wife. The tragedy that befell such a young family where the couple had promising careers ahead of them can only be experienced by reading the book in one sitting, reading/hearing Paul at first and then closely followed by Lucy’s voice grieving at the loss of a much loved husband, companion, friend, father, son, brother and surgeon. His memorial service in Stanford was attended by his family, friends, colleagues and patients.

I have often wondered what it must be like for a doctor to realise they are ill and their mind analyses, evaluates every stage while they are sick. When Paul kept prompting his oncologist for some idea of the realistic time it would require him to recover, she kept evading his question. At one point in the book he has an epiphany when he realises it is sometimes best to stop being a doctor and looking after oneself but be treated by others, instead of second guessing their treatment.

When Breath Becomes Air  is a very moving book and should be read by everyone.

( The images used to accompany this article are from the Internet. I do not own the copyright to them at all. If anyone knows who owns them, please let me know and I will acknowledge the source.)

Paul Kalanithi When Breath Becomes Air ( Foreword by Abraham Verghese) The Bodley Head, an imprint of Vintage, Penguin Random House, London, 2016. Hb. pp. 230 £ 12.99

1 February 2016

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