Short Book Review: The Princes by Manohar Malgonkar

SBR: The Princes is a charming, well-written book that doesn’t pretend to make a grand statement. It is narrated in the first-person voice of the heir-apparent of one of the small, deteriorating princely states of pre-independence India. It’s a bitter-sweet story of an old patriarch clinging to the old ways of life and his son feeling torn between his feelings of love and respect for his father, and his understanding of the changes coming with the rise of nationalism in the country that will inevitably sweep the parasitic class of prices away.

To read or not to read: Yes. An interesting subject and good writing. But we got hold of a second-hand copy. It might be difficult to come by as the only edition I see on Amazon.in is a ridiculously priced imported edition.

Short Book Review: The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan

The Twentieth WifeSBR: The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan is a well-written book, but it falters as historical fiction. I’m pretty sure that the court language by the time of Akbar and Jehangir was Persian and not Turkish, hot chai was not partaken in India at that time, and Mehrunnisa wouldn’t have been affectionately addressed as ‘beta’ by her parents. Salim’s character development doesn’t make sense and romantic situations between Salim and Mehrunnisa are created forcibly by arbitrarily playing with the norm of purdah. Although sufficient research seems to have gone into the life events of the characters, the settings and details are anachronistic.
To read or not to read: No need to go out of your way to get the book. It can be an entertaining read, but is not a must read.

Short Book Review: Hello Bastar by Rahul Pandita

Hello BastarSBR: Hello Bastar: The Untold Story of India’s Maoist Movement is a brave and important book. Whether you are a supporter or Maoists or a criticizer, whether you are ambivalent or opinionated, it is important to know things before taking a stand. This book can help you do that.
The only issue with the book was its haphazard narration, which kept going back and forth for no obvious reasons. It read like a collection of journalistic pieces instead one coherent book. That made the stories difficult to follow, and characters difficult to keep track of.
To read or not to read: Yes. It is on an important issue.

Short Book Review: The Light of His Clan by Chetan Raj Shrestha

the light of his clanSBR: Chetan Raj Shrestha continued to shine as a writer in his second book The Light of His Clan. This is another Sikkim novel, affectionate but unsparing with its subjects, which brings a smile to your lips even when the characters act like complete losers. Even at their absurd best, they are always relatable. Despite the pervasive Sikkim-setting, the protagonist, Kuldeep Chandanth, could have been an aging patriarch anywhere in India who is clinging to what he sees as the past glories of his own self as well as his clan, while the world is passing him by.
The writing in the book is also delightful. The novel is a worthy successor of author’s debut book The King’s Harvest, which is one of the recommended book on Worth a Read.
To read or not to read: Yes, it is a delightful read.