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January 29, 2015

Book Review - 183 : The Uncommon Memories of Zeenat Qureishi

Author : Veena Nagpal
Publisher : Tara Research Press

Traumatised in the aftermath of the London Tube bombing, the phobic 20-year-old Zeenat Querishi comes to India. Long before Zeenat was born, the eldest Qureishi brother, his wife, and six-year-old daughter Zainab were murdered.  Zeenat’s family believed the Mehras, their Hindu family friends, responsible and the friendship turned sour. Wild and impetuous Zeenat promptly falls in love with Ajay Mehra. Faced with proof that he was involved in the demolition of a mosque, she scorns him. Disturbed, Zeenat undergoes regression therapy in an atmosphere of paranoia and uncovers memories so powerful that she can project them. Communal bitterness that has simmered for centuries threatens to explode around her and Zeenat tries to find answers in the past that will help her understand and heal the present.

Set in the early 1990s, the book paces itself leisurely, at times a bit too much. The author wants to explore the communal lines in the wake of Ayodha riots and Babri demolition. One can already feel fatigued by these ideas as there has been so much written, talked, discussed and deliberated on these topics that it does not feel entirely fresh.  Problem is, all of this is lying under layers of detailing Hindu fundamentalism and Islamic terrorism. Material is dense, timelines are confusing and the jumps between the scenes in the narrative are not always seamless. Characters are introduced and conveniently forgotten in the narrative, only to question the motive of the writer. With multifaceted characters, it becomes boring after a while because you know none of them can think straight, they are just grey characters who will not appear what they are. It is also ironic that in a book which is trying so hard to please Muslim characters in the end make them complete jerks by the end. I am sure this was not the intention while writing this book.

I am going with 2/5 for Veena Nagpal's 'The Uncommon Memories of Zeenat Querishi'. The author has noble intentions and tries really hard to pack in a lot of things. But it left me exhausted as a reader, and i say that in the best form of the word. Try it, you may feel different.

January 18, 2015

Book Review - 182 : Hooked, Lined & Single

Author : Rashmi Kumar
Publisher : Srishti Publishers & Distributors

‘Hooked, Lined and Single‘ is about Alafia Singh, a 31 year old divorcee writer. She was married at the early age of 21, and the marriage lasted 11 months The book mostly deals with getting married again, finding another man and dealing with misadventures in that process.

There are portions of dry humour and inspired lunancy - like the one in which Alafia try matchmaking through or another one in which constantly spluttering whatdfuck friend is trying to impress her through culinary skills. But these moments are far and few in between. Structurally disjointed and too many loose ends in the book makes you wonder where exactly is this book heading into climax. There are long portions where nothing really happens in the story unless you encounter yet another man our lead protagonist is so desperately looking out for leading to a certain repetitiveness which is hard to fathom as a reader.

You never get a true sense why Alafia got divorced at 21 and what went wrong in the first marriage. Instead you are provided this as a FYI situation leading up to many more men. Most of the characters are introduced at a superficial level and soon forgotten. You just sense this book more as a collection of diary entries rather than forming a concrete story.

I am going with 2/5 for Rashmi Kumar's second novel. It is a much more improved than author's debut work but there is still scope of better things. We, as readers deserve much better work from her.

January 17, 2015

Quick notes on a book about leadership in Police

Authors : Radhakrishnan Pillai and D.Sivanandhan
Publisher : Jaico

Rating :  3 / 5

Chanakya's 7 secrets of leadership by Radhakrishnan Pillai and D.Sivanandhan is a book about the seven pillars of good governance. It depicts the pearls of wisdom left behind by Chanakya, a celebrated leader in 4th Century BC India. The Arthashastra is the prominent work of Chanakya's secrets and theories. It defines the concept of Saptanga, meaning the seven pillars of an established nation, which are: Swami, Amatya, Janpada, Durg, Kosha, Dand and Mitra iti Prakritya.

These seven footholds have been incorporated by many leaders in their organisational practices and they continue to be devoutly pursued by many to form a successful Kingdom. The co-author Radhakrishnan Pillai, takes the modern day example of D. Sivanandhan, former Director General of Police, Maharashtra. He is proclaimed to be an honest and capable leader and shares his views on being an efficient manager. Forming a relationship between things past and present, Radhakrishnan Pillai successfully delves into the intrinsic workings of Chanakya's Saptanga and applies it to modern day society. How current leaders adopt this treaty and apply it to their respective fields for success is analysed in this book.

The seven pillars of leadership display wisdom and with meticulous research it has been reflected in the work of the author. Second in the series after Corporate Chanakya, the authors delve into the practical example of Police force - their hardships, their trials and tribulations, the problems faced by them on a daily basis amidst harsh circumstances. Resolution to gang war in the early 1990s and almost no difference in professional & personal lives of the police force is abundantly illustrated.

January 15, 2015

Book Review - 181 : The Winner's Curse

Author : Dee Walker
Publisher : Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Orphan Harsh makes it to the billionaire club with a burning vision,sheer intellect and the blessings of his political Godfather. The favours must now be paid back, through a huge Guru Dakshina. To honour his Master's wish, Harsh, with the help of his fellow IITians, sets out to create a never-seen-before governance technology that will change the face of democratic India. Everything is at stake: money, reputations, egos and morals. Even lives. Will they succumb to insatiable greed in the murky games of politics,backstabbing and subterfuge, or will they be redeemed by the “Ten Commandments” that once forged their ideals at college?

Author knows a thing or two about setting up scenes as was quite evident from his earlier foray into the world of first time writers in the blooming but still nascent publishing industry of India. There are multiple scenes in this fast pace narrative which is testimony to the same fact - Protagonist meeting with investors in Dubai or the scenes where even the protagonist have to choose between two friends . Undercurrent fact that we may be dealing with some real educational institutes of India here keep the readers genuinely hooked up and sufficiently interested.

The first 40 odd pages are dense and it will take time to actually get your head around what exactly is going on with these characters and their motivations which is a pity in a thriller of this kind. The author does well to take some hot topics in politics and governance - UIDs, Aadhar numbers, National ids, whatever you want to call it. . I also enjoyed how the author makes a distinction between the have and have nots by the way one uses technology in their daily lives.

Editing leaves a lot to be desired in this book. In the print version i had, there are multiple repetitions of sentences, sometimes even entire paragraphs have been incorrectly printed. The pacing is brisk and there are sufficient number of twists and turns to take you though this frankly, long book (280 odd pages) for a thriller genre. I am also quite sick of Indian writers using the gay angle as a surprise package to make the plot thicker, it has been done to death and quite frankly, does not work anymore and any well read reviewer will see it coming from a distance.

Despite these nags and poor editing, this is decently researched and well compiled book dealing with an unique concept about UIDs. I wish it was more shorter and tighter to have a better impact on readers. I am going with 3/5

[ Review of S.V. Divvaakar earlier book, Beaten by Bhagath here. ]