Short Book Review: The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty by Kavita Kane

The Fisher Queen's Dynasty by Kavita KaneSBR: Upfront confession. I somehow slogged through the first few chapters of The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty, but could not get myself to finish this book. So, you may think it unfair that I am harsh on this book. But I saw no indication that it would get better, which is a pity. Because Satyavati’s character from Mahabharata holds great potential for making of an interesting grey-shaded protagonist. That’s what the book seems to be about. But it is a bit too true to the popular version of the Mahabharata mythology. Why would I want to read the same again in a rather uninspiring language? The book just doesn’t seem to be able to do anything interesting with the story or the characters.

Some negative reviews on Amazon seem to hint that other books for the authors were better. So, perhaps one should try one of her other books first.

To read or not to read: No! What for?

The Mahabharata, Leela and the Hunchback @ BYOB Party in Feb, 2016 (Part 3)

jaya-mahabharatSince we can’t have a BYOB Party without the Mahabharata, let’s have a look at what Anshuman Mishra, founder of Mercadeo Education Tech, was reading. This book has been featured here before Devadutt Pattanaik’s Jaya: An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata .  Anshuman finds the current mythical spurt either too Amishesque or way too Sankritized.  The book begins in the final throes of the Mahabharata. In the epics, we have two heavens, one is Swarga, the abode of the Gods,  and the other Vaikuntha, the abode of  God. One of the protagonists of the epic, the eldest Pandava, Yudhishtar can not understand why it is that he has not been sent to heaven at all.  Anshuman finds Pattanaik’s exploration of the many existential questions that arise in the Mahabharata very lucid and rational.

Aditya Sengupta, an avid reader of the various interpretations of the Mahabharata, begs to differ. He believes that Pattanaik makes things a little too simplistic and that the Mahabharata is devoid of any such judgement.  When Yudhishtir asks this question, he throws the dice to answer what dharma is. There is no answer. What is justice? No answer, either. There is far too much grey, and no amount of thinking can take a prince out of his hellish destiny if he must endure it.

leelaThat was without a doubt a heavy interpretation. Neha who works in The IT industry prefers to read books that are refreshing and in more of the ‘light reading’ category. She hopes that this BYOB Party inspires her to read more, a habit that is hard to sustain in such busy times. She talked about her experience reading a book called Leela: A Patchwork Life. Leela was once voted as one of the five most beautiful women in the world and has served as a muse to many a famous icon. “What I liked about the book were the little windows we got to witness the actress’s life through. There was a light-hearted segment about her experience at an uptown resturant where the toothpicks were made of porcupine quills. This is something that is hard to forget!”

the hunchback of notre dame

Sunny, who is a reader of classics, found the first 150 pages of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame tedious. “Once I got past the descriptions of medieval France in the 1400s, it was smooth sailing and to top it off this is a love story with the protagonist, an underdog, the hunchback Quasimodo,  who ends up being the hero of a love story.”

difficult pleasuresPiya Bose, HR Professional, has been reading every Indian author she can find and she feels that there are not too many good ones. There seem to be quite a few in the market, but not many have caught her fancy. Either the stories do not suit her taste or she finds the editorial errors too glaring to ignore. One writer she particularly has taken a fancy to is Anjum Hasan. Her book Difficult Pleasures is a book of well-written riveting short stories that all deal with the paradox that pleasure is not an easy thing to find .

my husband and other animals_Soumya Ravindranath, independent consultant, came across a light read My husband and other animals by Janaki Lenin. The story is about being married to herpetologist and wildlife conservationist. “The takeaway from the book is how there is so much than conventional urban life. We are missing so much; even the kind of thoughts we have when we are in contact with wildlife don’t occur when we live in an urban space. When I read My family and other animals by Gerald Durrell, I understood that there are better alternatives like homeschooling. This book gives you that same freshness and throws nature’s doors wide open. You must read it.”

The music room

Aditya Sengupta read a completely different sort of book that describes Hindustani music. The Music Room by Namita Devidayal is the story of her music teacher Dhondutai, who was the disciple of renown teachers, Alladiya Khan and Kesarbai Kerkar. Devidayal ended up writing but music never left her and she dissects the various aspects of the Jaipur Gharaana. For a music lover who wants to read lucid prose about Indian classical music, this is the best book to start.

That was a lovely spread of books. What have you been reading?

 

Epic Memories and Philosophical Ruminations @BYOB Party in September (Part 1)

This time we chose a different venue for the BYOB Party. We co-hosted this quaint book party with Reading Hour and it took as an hour to get to the venue- a quiet house filled with the warmth of book loving souls Vaishali and Arun Khandekar.

indian-philosophy-volume-1-400x400-imad8zmdnhyxq4vuNilesh Trivedi has a penchant for challenging books in a previous BYOB Party. He found Indian Philosophy by S.Radhakrishnan quite riveting. Though the book is written in English for western readers, it is a starting point for a seeker of knowledge when it comes to such an inaccessible subject like philosophy. While Bertrand Russell and Will Durant have succeeded in making the  polarities of Western philosophies far more accessible, S. Radhakrishnan has veered away from the mystical and provided a serious analysis of Indian philosophy, of which there are several parts.

The German philosopher Schopenhauer’s dictum of never reading commentaries was a strong motivator for Nilesh to chose this book. Summaries may seem appalling to a fiction lover like Vaishali (how can you read a summary of a fiction?) but reading summaries is one way of tackling the mountainous number of non-fiction books out there.

As is the case with book parties, one reader is magically connected to the next by an invisible thread called taste. Arun Khandekar spoke at great length about his experiences reading the philosophical works of Swami Vivekanada and Ramakrishna Paramahmsa.

“It is strange how Vivekananda uttered such difficult truths in his time. He believed in the agency of the mind and finding things out on your own.”  Arun believes that this freedom of thought and expression seems to be a thing of the past.

The Great Indian Novel“In fact The Great Indian Novel  written by Shashi Tharoor and published in the 90’s interprets the Mahabharata in a way that can not be envisioned being done now.”

Arun told us how Tharoor eloquently clothed epic characters in contemporary light, reflecting the Indian public’s fascination with this story.  Abhaya confessed to his addiction of the Mahabharata series that he watched on YouTube several times over and Arun spoke of the pre-internet, pre-TV days when he relied heavily on Amar Chitra Katha to feed his Mahabharata compulsions.

“In hindsight, in post independence India, it was stories like Harishchandra that got more leeway and now we see a renewed interest in the epics,” Arun mused.

Even if you did not know the nitty-gritty of the epic, the rivalry between the righteous Pandavas and the tainted Kauravas have lodged themselves in the Indian psyche.

“There is a Shakuni in every household,” Veena Prasad, a writer, summed it up nicely.

DuryodhanaThe mythical theme continued in Veena’s description of her co-writer Raghunathan’s book called Duryodhana, a book she confessed to reading in one sitting. “It’s a book from the villain’s point of view. Only here, the villain questions the reader. He speaks from the other side and his monologues are a social commentary on hypocrisies and double standards that existed in Hastinapur.”

The defining line from the book Veena cites is when Duryodhana says, “I had evil thoughts, and so have they”. The story of the Mahabharata never runs dry, does it?

More coming up…in 2,3,4, and 5….