Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Giveaway: The Sea of Innocence by Kishwar Desai

Kishwar Desai is the author of the bestselling books ‘Witness the Night’ and ‘Origins of Love’. In both her previous books, she has taken inspirations from topical issues to build fast-paced thrillers. I loved both her books.

I was waiting eagerly for her third book: ‘The Sea of Innocence’

And guess what? I also have 1 copy of the book for Giveaway.

Giveaway copy is sponsored by MySmartPrice Books. MySmartPrice Books offer a smart way to find the best online deal for books.

ABOUT THE BOOK: From the Publisher’s website:

Goa, south India. A beautiful holiday hideaway where hippies and backpackers while away the hours. But beneath the clear blue skies lies a dirty secret…

Simran Singh is desperate for a break and some time away from her busy job as a social worker-come-crime investigator. And so the unspoilt idyll of Goa seems just the place - white beaches, blue seas and no crime. 

But when a disturbing video appears on her phone, featuring a young girl being attacked by a group of men, she realises that a darkness festers at the heart of this supposed paradise. And when she discovers out that the girl is Liza Kay, a British teenager who has gone missing, she knows she must act in order to save her.

But first Simran must break through the web of lies and dark connections that flourish on these beaches. Everyone, it seems, knows what has happened to the girl but no one is prepared to say. And when more videos appear, and Simran herself is targeted in order to keep her quiet, the paradise soon becomes a living nightmare.

Read more about the book here, and an Author interview here. Here’s the book’s GoodReads page.


You just need to follow these super- simple steps:
1. Leave a comment at the end of this post if you are interested in this book.
2. You need to ‘ Like’ the Facebook pages of this Blog and MySmartPrice Books. So, please leave your Facebook IDs with your comments.

1. Each person can comment only once.
2. The last date of this Giveaway is 15th June 2013.
3. The winner will be chosen through
4. The book will be sent to an address in India only.
5. After the result is announced, the winner must respond with his/her address within 7 days.

So, what are you waiting for? It can't get any more simple! 


Book Review: The Lonely Monarch by Sunil Gangopadhyay

Title: The Lonely Monarch
Author: Sunil Gangopadhyay (translated by Swapna Dutta)
Publisher: Hachette India
Pages: 248
Price: Rs 350
Genre: Literary Fiction / Historical Fiction /Theatre / Translation
Rating: 9/10
Format: Paperback

It took me a while to begin this book. ‘The Lonely Monarch’ by Sunil Gangopadhyay, beautifully translated by Swapna Dutta, was supposed to be about Bengali theatre of the 1920s. I felt I would not be able to relate to it, since I knew nothing about either theatre in general or Bengali theatre in particular. Then I read the ‘translator’s note’, where she herself admits that she “knew very little about the theatre scene in Bengal and even less about the people involved in it”, and yet she was fascinated and enthralled by the book. That did it for me. And I am grateful, I read it.

‘The Lonely Monarch’ is the story of the stalwart of Bengali theatre, Sisirkumar Bhaduri, in the early twentieth century. Although the story is about a real, revered personality from the theatre world, yet this book is not a biography. As the author says, “basing it on facts, as far as possible, I’ve had to fill the available framework with my imagination.”

In ‘the Lonely Monarch’, the author creates a vivid imagery of the old-world Bengal and its theatre world. Sisirkumar Bhaduri, the scion of a declining zamindar family, was enamoured by the world of theatre. When he joined professional theatre, there had never been any actor so highly educated; considering the notoriety associated with it (all actresses came from the red light area). He strongly believed that theatre should be integral to the culture. He worked relentlessly from the beginning of his career to the end to create a culture of refined taste in theatre. He performed in and directed several outstanding plays, which got him adulation from the masses as well as critical acclaim. But he soon realized he was not cut out for working under anybody and started his own theatre company.

The story traces his rise and fall, the many highs and lows of theatre world; his dream of a national theatre to teach acting and theatre to the younger generation; his attempts to refine the taste of the general audience to more tasteful plays, to break away Bengali theatre from the shadows of English theatre and make an identity of its own; to break the stigma around theatre and make it part of the popular culture; and to produce and direct outstanding plays, and not be confined by the money spinners. 

The book also chronicles his tumultuous personal life and his struggle with alcoholism. A man of such extraordinary talent was married to a simple, ordinary girl with no knowledge of poetry and art. Even his attempts to teach her finer nuances of life turned futile because of the orthodox outlook of his parents. Misunderstandings led to her suicide attempt and later her death, which kept him guilt-ridden throughout his life. Later, he found his match in Kanakabati, who was educated and an excellent actress, but he failed to bestow upon her the respect and dignity of being his wife. She died heartbroken.

He also dabbled in movies for money but his heart was not into it. Films appeared too mechanical to him. Moreover, on one hand he was an exceptional actor and director, on the other hand, he never understood the commercial aspects of running a theatre, which always led to his downfall. It disappointed him that neither the government nor the rich of Bengal patronized the Bengali theatre.

There are many references of eminent personalities of those times like Rabindranath Tagore, Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, Satyajit Ray; even the author Sunil Gangopadhyay himself appears in the narrative.

Towards the end of the book, though the country had got independence but his dream of national theatre remained unfulfilled. In his old age, the once-torch bearer of Bengali theatre passed his days in poverty and loneliness, refusing any kind of charity. He just wanted to be remembered as an actor / director of exceptional talent and outstanding caliber.

The book is quite interesting and engrossing. The narrative is fluid and what is commendable is that it never feels like a translation.

If literary fiction is your thing, go for it.

A few memorable lines from the book:

“That’s what real art does to a person. It charms as well as overwhelms.”

All he had asked for was a national theatre where he could teach stagecraft to the new generation – the nitty gritty of acting, experimenting with new forms of drama – without having to worry about money, the kind of organization that existed in any civilized country in the world. 

Note: Text in italics has been quoted from the book.

Review Book courtesy: Hachette India
Image source: Hachette India

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Book Review: Legacy: Letters from eminent parents to their daughters by Sudha Menon

Title: Legacy: Letters from eminent parents to their daughters
Author: Sudha Menon
Publisher: Random House India
Pages: 272
Price: Rs 399
Genre: Non Fiction / Essays / Letters / Journals
Rating: 9/10
Format: Hardbound

When I first read about this book, I was instantly drawn to it. Distinguished people writing letters to their daughters; the concept appealed to me dearly. It held a lot of potential to learn and be inspired. I was also curious about what lessons or advice these high achievers would pass on to their daughters.

The book lived up to its promise.

I loved the cover page instantly. It has a warm appeal to it. Foreword is by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. It is inspiring to read her write about her unconventional choice of career, encouraged by her father, and struggle during the initial years as a lady brewer in a man’s world.

Notes by Deepika Padukone and Nandita Das to their respective famous dads, on the insides of the cover, are heartwarming.

The book is quite well-organized. The writers have been featured in the alphabetical order of their names. Each letter is preceded by a note about the person writing the letter, which beautifully sets the mood for the letter and helps the reader relate to the letter in a better way. Each letter is a reflection of the letter writer’s own journey through life, his learnings and values that he or she holds close.

Ajay Piramal, Amit Chandra, Capt. Gopinath, Chanda Kochhar, Deep Anand, Ganesh Natarajan, Jatin Das,, Kishore Biyani, K.V. Kamath, Mallika Sarabhai, Narayana Murthy, Pradeep Bhargava, Prakash Padukone, P.P. Chhabria, Renuka Ramnath, Sanjeev Kapoor, Shaheen Mistri and Zia Modi make the 18 personalities who have contributed in this book to pass on the legacy of learnings, values, beliefs and wisdom, not only to their own daughters but to inspire all the Indian women at large.

Chanda Kochhar thinks adaptability is a great quality to possess, while Captain Gopinath demonstrates by his own life to reinvent oneself constantly; Amit Chandra highlights the power of wealth and how not to get carried away with it, while Kishore Biyani stresses on the importance of people, relationships and human behavior; Mallika Sarabhai advises her daughter to be fearless about what she can do while Shaheen Mistri crafts a beautiful poem for her daughters about empathy and equality – there are several such gems in the book.

Though each letter is a lesson in life-skills, my personal favorites are letters by Captain Gopinath and Kishore Biyani. I was pleasantly surprised at the modern outlook of Mr Biyani when he is perceived as rooted in traditions. He came across as a very open-minded individual who held both his daughters in high esteem for their capabilities. Captain Gopinath’s ability to rise from the ashes every time as a phoenix comes across very clearly. The way he reinvents himself constantly is exemplary for everyone.

What stands out is that each one of them is rooted in their past, stress on the importance of giving back to the society, the need to be there for the family, and shower love and respect on their daughters as independent and capable individuals.

It is easy to get intimidated by these stalwarts for their lofty achievements but when they write to their daughters, one gets to know their real, warm personalities and concerns of an ordinary parent.

I certainly recommend it wholeheartedly.

Review Book courtesy: Random House India
Image source: Random House India