Songs of Supplication; Malathi V. Moily, Rupa, Rs.295.

A collection of poems on the beauty of divinity, nature and love. The earnest ‘You Are Omnipresent’, reminds us of the source of all creation; ‘Nature’ is a heartfelt tribute to the bounties of Mother Earth; and the lilting ‘My Ma’n is a love paean from a woman to her beloved. The poems also dwell on the inevitability of human foibles and the necessity for spiritual cleansing. Songs of Supplication is an ode to the power both within and outside.

India’s Rights Revolution: Has It Worked for the Poor?; S.K. Das, Oxford University Press India, Rs.795.

Putting social justice and human rights at the core of its developmental policies, India enacted four important socio-economic laws in the past few years. Despite lofty aims, there have been serious shortcomings in their implementation. Are these laws accessible? Are the poor equipped to realise their rights? Is there a remedy if the laws are violated? While critically analysing these questions, the author discusses why these rights have failed to benefit the poor and highlights the need for appropriate laws, adequate resources, and an institutional infrastructure.

Exotic Aliens: The Lion and the Cheetah in India; Valmik Thapar, Aleph Book Company, Rs.595.

In the 16th century, Dutch traveller Jan Linschoten noted the absence of lions throughout the Indian subcontinent. Two hundred years later, British shikari and writer, Captain Thomas Williamson, emphatically declared: ‘There are no lions in Hindustan.’ Much the same was said about the cheetah. These observations piqued the interest of well-known naturalist Valmik Thapar. After an enormous amount of research and study, he now believes that, contrary to existing scientific theory, neither of these animals was indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. Enlisting the help of renowned historian, Romila Thapar who analyses historical accounts and representations of the lion in early India, and scholar Yusuf Ansari who looks back at the lives of the Mughals and their famed hunts to further validate his theory, Thapar concludes that the Indian lion and the Indian cheetah were exotic imports, not indigenous subspecies.

A Degree in Death; Ruby Gupta, Alchemy, Rs.225.

The midnight murder of a student in the sleepy town of Dehra Dun fills everyone with suspicion and alarm. With no clues or suspects, the police are unable to catch the killer. Professor Shantanu Bose, an eminent nano-expert and Dean of Research and Development, is determined to bring back the peaceful academic environment of his campus and begins his own investigation. Soon he finds himself being stalked and his every move being observed and discovers that the truth is more startling than what anyone could have imagined. 

Yours Sarcastically; Sandeep Das, Jufic Books, Rs.145.

A not-so-diplomatic take on the life of a  20-something person in contemporary India, the book is about a youngster’s journey from post-graduate education to experiences of selling mustard hair oil,  marketing stints and management consulting experience along the Indo-Nepal border. Along the way, he falls in love with his batch-mate and hankers after professional success. Needless to say, there is a villain who runs after the same lovely girl and the same crown of success.

Best of W. W. Jacobs; Chubby Sadashivan, Chubb Publishers, Rs.150.

William Wymark Jacobs, English novella and short story writer, novelist, and dramatist, is primarily known for the macabre ‘The Monkey’s Paw’, a classic horror story that remains as intense and thrilling as it was when first penned. While popular today as a horror fiction writer, many of Jacobs’ stories were infused with dry humour, plot twists and surprise endings. Jacobs’ works were immensely successful during his time, but since his death have become relatively obscure. This slim volume, edited by Chubby Sadashivan, puts together some of Jacobs’ lesser known but equally thrilling and well-crafted stories. Two stories, ‘A Change of Treatment’ and ‘Paying Off’, bring back one of Jacob’s recurring characters, the Night Watchman, a retired sailor who narrates stories in a London cockney dialect most prevalent on the waterfront. Sample the best of Jacobs.

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