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The enticement of the esoteric
Violence has always been a part of children's literature. It provides a safe buffer zone where children can clarify their stance on moral issues by exploring alternatives and exercise their responses to the terrible and be prepared for it in real life, says SONYA DUTTA CHOUDHURY.

A sense of inner bonds
Penelope Fitzgerald is best at subtle wisdom marked by a sense of humour that can leave one breathless, says SUSAN VISVANATHAN.


The damned and dispossessed
The ancient commission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our many grievances and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement. Furthermore, the writer is ...

The way of all flesh
Recently a small generations-old family business in central London closed its doors for the last time. CHRISTOPHER HURST, one of its customers, laments its passing.
Another Cook `faction'
AS narratives go, Robin Cook has written more compelling stuff. In Seizure, Cook may have spun a story "out of tomorrow's headlines" — so the publishers claim — but he stops short of hazarding a guess as to what the future ...
Third take
COMING as this snap-shot `biography' of Indira Gandhi does after the author's own detailed books on India's first woman Prime Minister — Indira Gandhi, Revolution in Restraint (1974) and Two Faces of Indira Gandhi (1977) ...
Ode to `Vande Mataram'
WHEN the saffron brigade first inched its way to the centre stage, the country was forced to stand mute witness to a controversy, which saw the Hindutva brigade pit the national song, "Vande Mataram" against the National Anthem, "Jana Gana Mana". ...
Blithely into a trap
IN January 2002, a young American Jewish journalist called Daniel Pearl went from Bombay, where he was the Wall Street Journal bureau chief, to Pakistan to investigate the story of Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" who had tried to blow up a ...
Emerging voices
IT is amazing how many voices in India are still to be heard and how some people work quietly to allow these voices to emerge. From Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh come the voices from the mountains gathered by a diligent researcher called ...
First Impression
WHEN two young men start questioning life or death where does it lead them? Will and Hand are two young typical Americans, pretty much involved in their routine lives. Suddenly life goes for a spin when they lose their best friend in a ...
Harry Potter and the curse of Indian hemp
THIS column is about how I came across Harry Potter in a store selling clothes and other things made from hemp. Hemp (botanical name cannabis, source for canvas) was called Indian Hemp after its widespread use in India where ropes and ...
Borrowing books
LIKE most lovers, book lovers are possessive, too. I have to confess that anyone flirting with my bookshelf makes me jealous. The scene I dread is a classic one that repeats itself; most book collectors will know this moment well. A visitor ...

Book Review

Intrigues of dynastic democracy
In Dynasties, Inder Malhotra draws fascinating accounts of the intrigues surrounding conflicts over succession to office and places them within a wider canvas, says AJIT BHATTACHARJEA.
Articulating a constructive Islam
Islam Under Siege is Ahmed's response, as a person who is at home in both the worlds, to the apparent conflict between the West and Islam, says RAJMOHAN GANDHI.
A peep into the past
Two recently published books reveal the ways in which the then undivided Communist Party of India functioned vis-à-vis the Soviet Union in the 1950s, says INDER MALHOTRA.
A classic resurrected
The new edition of Marie Seton's biography should make Ray accessible to a whole new generation, says PARTHO DATTA.
Tales of compassion
The Jatakamala in Sanskrit by Arya Shura occupies a special place in Buddhist literature. A review of a recent translation by MANOJ DAS.
Narratives of the self
Travel Writing and the Empire is an intelligent introduction to the interface between travel narratives and colonialism, says UMA MAHADEVAN-DASGUPTA.
Fictionalising history
NEW Indian writing often manifests itself in the avatar of reportage-turned-fiction. That makes perfect sense in an age of market-driven media, which is no longer a tool for radical social reform or the dramatic exposes of the 1980s. I've no ...
From another time
READING A Variety of Absences, the new Penguin collection of three of Dom Moraes's autobiographical books (Gone Away, My Son's Father, Never at Home) is a real chore. You feel impatient and out of place — like ...
Alternative histories
Dwelling in the Archive shows how women writers like Majumdar, Sorabji and Hosain used the domestic space as an archival source to construct their own histories, says NONICA DATTA.
Contemplating the clock within
The Journey of Man traces the ancestry of humans to one common ancestor and is an antidote to prevalent notions of biological superiority, says K. ULLAS KARANTH.
Ending a long silence
FROM his menagerie, Nobel Laureate Günter Grass has chosen the crab for his latest book of fiction, revolving around the sinking of the cruise ship Wilhelm Gustloff towards the end of World War II. The torpedoing of the "German Titanic" by a ...
Indian Jews and their heritage
THERE are approximately 14 million Jews living all over the world. More than five million of them live in the United States and less than five million live in Israel, the promised land. There are less than two million Jews in Europe, 400,000 in ...
Of urban authoritarianism
The Emergency was not simply an aberration from normal ways of being. Through the narratives of Unsettling Memories it emerges as one instance on the axis of authoritarianism that constitutes urban life, says NEERA CHANDHOKE.
Marred by poor editing
While an anthology of Oriyan stories is welcome, there is a need for better researched and edited volumes that reflect the complexity and richness of Orissa's literary traditions, says SACHIDANANDA MOHANTY.
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