It was an evening of Booker talk

(From left) Six writers Malathi Rao, C.K. Meena, Jamuna Rao, K.R. Usha, Jagadish Raja and Anita Nair at the British Library in Bangalore on Saturday.

(From left) Six writers Malathi Rao, C.K. Meena, Jamuna Rao, K.R. Usha, Jagadish Raja and Anita Nair at the British Library in Bangalore on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Staff Reporter

Six local writing talents discuss the works that are to make news soon

Bangalore: The six short-listed authors for The Man Booker Prize found themselves read out in a cosy part of the British Library by six of the city’s literary talents on Saturday evening. Malathi Rao, C.K. Meena, Jamuna Rao, Usha K.R., Jagadish Raja and Anita Nair picked the books they thought had the most chances of winning one of the most coveted literary prizes of the year to be announced on October 14, or simply the author they wanted to talk most about.

Ms. Malathi Rao kicked off this intensely wordy evening with her favourite book of the lot — Linda Grant’s “The Clothes On Their Backs”, who is also the only woman writer of the six. “This book is certainly a page turner and can be finished in a few sittings,” she said. The book, which describes the story of a Jewish-Hungarian émigré against the backdrop of the colourful 1970s in London with skinheads, punks and tango lessons, used the subtext of clothes to understand the lives of the richly designed characters. “Like all human stories, this is a story of survival,” said Ms. Rao.

Amitav Ghosh’s critically acclaimed “Sea of Poppies” was C.K. Meena’s pick. In an enthusiastic rush of words, she explained that she liked the book for Mr. Ghosh’s panoramic view of language and culture. “He creates seven different types of English,” said Ms. Meena talking about this almost epic spanning continents.

Ms. Jamuna Rao rooted for Sebastian Barry’s “The Secret Scriptures”, which she thought has “elegant and exquisite” prose. Apart from his creation of an alternative Irish history, Ms. Rao was most impressed by Mr. Barry’s clever metaphors. “One of the lead characters insanity is a metaphor for understanding the chaos and madness around her,” she said.

Ms. Usha read out excerpts from “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga. “This book has a hallucinatory quality to it,” she said. This book is a satirical take on the “two Indias” we live in. From a village in Bihar to Delhi to Bangalore, “The White Tiger” is told by the underdog who finally manages to seek twisted justice.

Reading out parts of the very funny “A Fraction Of The Whole” was Mr. Jagadish Raja. His well-read excerpts brought out the book’s tragic humour. Mr. Raja spoke of its rambling quality, which has come for some caustic reviews.

“The Northern Clemency”, perhaps the heaviest read of all by Philip Hensher, is not available in Bangalore right now. As she only received a copy last afternoon, Ms. Anita Nair fell short of things to say about it, but did give the audience insights into Hensher’s general style of writing, which was complex and required patience. “This is a 19th Century kind of Russian novel in bell bottoms,” she said, as the book takes off in the 1970s.

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