Short Book Review: Gujarat Files by Rana Ayyub

GujaratFilesSBR: Gujarat Files by Rana Ayyub is the result of some brave work. Going undercover with a different identity, a different religion and doing stings operations on some of the top government officials in a state known for its vengeful ways of governance is not a job for the weak of heart. The stories that come out are chilling, even though not surprising for people who are not blind fans of our prime minister, his party, and his associates. What was slightly surprising for me was that she was able to get people into such controversial and intimate conversations with the ostensible objective of making a film on Gujarat (its glory, it seemed implied, and not the dark underbelly that she was really researching and managed to get people to talk about). Unfortunately, the book is not well-edited. A rewriting to tighten of the narrative was required. This vitiates the book’s potential impact. The untranslated Hindi parts of the transcripts can pose a challenge to non-Hindi speakers and hinder their understanding.
To read or not to read: It is not a must-read with any urgency. But do buy it, even if it is just to show a middle finger to the Internet trolls who have been hard at work on Amazon reviews since the moment the book has released.

Short Book Review: This Unquiet Land by Barkha Dutt

This Unquiet LandSBR:  This Unquiet Land is a historical account of  a bunch of issues faced by India today, the content mostly deriving from the author’s work as a journalist. It covers issues like our wars with our neighbors, Kashmir, religious tensions, caste, class, gender justice, liberalization, politics etc. It makes for a pretty good read, although there is no extraordinary insight you get if you are a regular consumer of news. Once in a while, you get to see something of the personal side of important people, or Barkha Dutt’s impression of them, but that isn’t something I would read the book for. It is also surprisingly uncontroversial, the tone that of strict journalistic neutrality, and judgments, when passed, reserved for the non-contentious issues. The right-wing Internet trolls wasted their time in writing those one-star book reviews on Amazon as soon as the book came out.
The pages spent chronicling her personal growth, or her long replies to her critics can tire you, but otherwise it is a well-written summary of the issues it intends to summarize.
To read or not to read: If you are bewildered with 24/7 news like me and find it difficult to keep track of even the important issues, this book is a good way to catch up. Else you won’t benefit much and can skip.