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Of Social Butterflies And War Zones
Text by Malvika Sah
Published: Volume 19, Issue 3, March, 2011

Historic chronicles, rom-com chick lit, love lores and passionate sagas.... Verve presents an anthology of the most fascinating reads of the month...

The Collaborator
Mirza Waheed
Penguin Books India
It’s early 1990s in Kashmir where life is changing radically as the scenic peaceful valley transform into isolated war zones. Amidst all the destruction, the young protagonist is forced to collaborate with the Indian Army to go into the valley to count the corpses, fearing each day, that he will discover one of his friends lying amongst the dead. The lyrical storytelling style is bound to touch a chord, deep inside.

Another Chance
Ahmed Faiyaz
Grey Oak Publishing
A light read to keep the grey cells stress-free. Ruheen Oberoi is a gorgeous woman who is very lonely. She has it all but lacks the things that matter the most – love and companionship. The novel traces her journey from Shimla to Amsterdam to Mumbai as she hops from one man to another when unpredictably she gets a second chance to fill the void that has haunted her all her life.

Six Yards of Silk
Mallika Krishnamurthy

Manjul Publishing House
This one is sheer poise and poetry wrapped in the traditional attire that defines all Indian women. Set in Wellington, the story shuttles between New Zealand and India, as the protagonist Sharmila, immobilised by the mysterious disappearance of her brother, finally seeks to gather the strands of her life and sheds the reminiscent past.

Tender Hooks
Moni Mohsin

Random House, India
Humorous and absolutely wicked! The Pakistani high society social butterfly is back with a bang. The book is all about the coveted Miss Butterfly as she schemes her way through shaadis, GTs (ahem, get-togethers!), and kitty parties trying to find a suitable girl for her hapless cousin only to realise that he has his own ideas about his perfect mate.

Stealing Karma
Aneesha Capur
Harper Collins, India
Set against the vast African landscape, this debut novel is a beautifully crafted tale of a young widowed mother caught up in the military turmoil of post-coup Kenya. When Mira’s late husband’s assets are frozen and life becomes untenable, her dependence upon her housekeeper and their relationship grows more complex and intriguing.

In Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan
M.J. Akbar
Harper Collins, India
Forgotten your history lessons already? The writer embarks on a historical whodunit to trace the journey of the idea, the events, people, circumstances and mindset that divided India way back in 1947. The wide array of research, perception, analysis and the writer’s personal engaging style makes this mammoth read worth the whole effort.

Q & A

India’s very own graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee in conversation with Verve

Tell us about your third book, The Harappa Files.
It’s not an easy book; there is a snake coil inside it. You can finish the book in half an hour but to unearth it you would need to re-read it, get under its skin. It’s like an archaeological dig, so the name.

Has your style changed?
A nagging feeling for anyone creative is to wake up in the morning thinking you are going to come up with some crap. To achieve the lightness you may feel in my book, I actually go through a lot of anxiety. Thankfully, with the recognition I have received, with a bit of experimentation and amusing myself, I can achieve something that can be shared with my fellow readers.

From the collector in Corridor to the loss of Fantasy...
Yes the loss of fantasy is a central theme as you watch the two prototypes of the North Indian male getting together with the woman, you realise how this is a narrative and yet, a non-narrative. It uses sexuality and triviality and then the book becomes about piecing it together.

You dedicated the book to all mothers of two sons?
(Laughs.) Yes, can you imagine the Mother India figure and the jai kisan, jai jawan? Part that, part creative narration of India. And in a cheeky sort of way to my mother, my editor and my gallerist who are all mothers of two sons.





“Travel is a very complex negotiation,” says Rahul Bhattacharya whose latest work – The Sly Company of People Who Care – is creating a quite a stir....

What does travel mean to you?
It is the most exhilarating way of understanding the world, and sometimes also the cruellest. Consider the epic journeys undertaken by the people who were transported to the Caribbean, slaves from Africa, indentured labourers from India and China. To travel is also to migrate, however temporarily, and that makes it a very complex negotiation.

Cricket in Pakistan to escaping the mundane routine existence in enchanting Guyana. New destinations seem to continuously inspire you.
In Pundits from Pakistan, cricket is more the inspiration – impulse may be the better word – than Pakistan. The Sly Company of People Who Care is more properly a book of place. But beyond that, someone wise once said that all literature is about going away or coming home.

Guyana is almost like an essential character in the book.
If you mean landscape, yes, it is, and not just for its raw, South American beauty. In the landscape there were also plenty of clues to the colonial forces that created a place like Guyana. That is a central concern of the book – the lives of people whose fate was determined by someone else.

Are you the kind who would lock himself inside a room to write or is writing an ongoing process while you are travelling?
Neither of the books was written while I was travelling. I needed to come away and put some distance between myself and the place, particularly for The Sly Company of People Who Care because fiction demands much more from the writer. While travelling, if I know I’m going to be writing something, I try to keep a journal, but I can be hopelessly lax in maintaining it.

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