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Sunday, April 20, 2008

BEST READS OF 2007 


The main reason for this list seeing the light of day so late in the year was the obvious attempt to smuggle in something read in the wee hours of 2008 and pass that off as a past-read, in the manner of Reetinder Singh Sodhi playing the Lombard Cup, a U-15 cup when he was almost sixteen. Sadly, I return , hat in hand, to say that this has failed !

1) The Fire and the Rain-Girish Karnad, Play
The translation of Agni mattu malle was insightful and enjoyable.

2) A Pale View of Hills-Kazuo Ishiguro
A soft, meditation on post-war Nagasaki in the best traditions of the “unreliable narrator” technique , not to be confused with the Roger Ackroyd kind !!

3) Anita and Me-Meera Syal
The wistful coming of age of a girl in the Midlands during the 60’s as she attempts to integrate and assimilate in an alien world.

4) On Chesil Beach-Ian McEwan
A novella really- on the trepidation and visceral dread of two newly-weds, resulting in perennial sadness.

5) We Weren’t Lovers Like that- Navtej Sarna
The emotional journey of a failed husband’s poignant digressions into the past, over a train journey ( my favourite part of India )

6) Waiting for the Barbarians- J M Coetzee
The come-uppance of a provincial magistrate who risks his dignity during his association with a native girl-authentic voice.

7) Bougainvilla House-Kalpana Swaminathan
Inconsistently told—recounted the visitations of a dying and senile sixty year old lady forlorn and forgotten.

8) The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes—Jamyang Norbu
Gripping concocted tale of accounting of an Oriental hued passage of Holmes’ absence.

9) The Bookseller of Kabul-Anne Seierstad
A plodding read of a real-life Afghan household.

10) The Full Cupboard of Life-Alexander McCall Smith
A wholesome albeit lukewarn tale

Bad Reads

1) Transmission-Hari Kunzru
A mangled assortment of disparate ideas conveyed with scant regard for form or structure.

2) Tokyo Cancelled-Rana Dasgupta
An excellent plot schema that fell away under the weighty ambition of an otherwise readable and sensitive author.

3) Nyagrodha-The Ficus Chronicles- Kalpish Ratna
Another almighty heave at the altar of erudition and rapier wit that came across as forced and contrived.

4) The Opium Clerk-Kunal Basu

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