New Delhi: The bookcase this week is a finely-nuanced spread of poetry, narrative, drama and business.
1. `The Rivered Earth`; Written by Vikram Seth; Published by Penguin Books; Priced at Rs.399
Light breeze on the fine grass
I stand alone at the mast
Stars lean on the vast wild plain
Moon bobs in the great river`s spate...
Letters have brought no fame. Office? Too old to obtain.
Drifting, what am I like
A gull between the earth and sky...
These are lines from a short poem `Songs in the Time of War` by Vikram Seth.
Between 2006 and 2009, Seth composed libretti for composer Alec Roth and violinist Phillipe Honore. The first three were about places - China during the Tsang dynasty, the Salisbury house of English poet George Herbert and India. The book compiles them in the poet`s own calligraphy and anecdotes about how the verses came to be; moving the reader with its beauty.
2. `To Kill a Snow Dragonfly`; Written by Sharad P. Paul; Published by Harper Collins; Priced at Rs.399
The tale begins in the exotic icy heights of Tibet on the eve of the Chinese aggression. Lobsang`s idyllic life falls apart when he finds a mole on his sister Bhunchung`s left cheek - an ominous sign of her husband`s untimely death. Can the mole be moved with the help of grandfather, a tantrik lama?
As Lobsang worries about his sister`s mole, Mao`s troops overrun Tibet. The story moves from Tibet to a boarding school in South India - and finally to Mumbai. The book, through its fictional sagas of two youngsters, is a journey across the turbulent terrain of the sacred kingdom - wracked by revolution and blood. It unravels the life of the two siblings.
3. `How India Got Back on the Global Business Map Offshore`; Written by Gaurav Rastogi and Basab Pradhan; Published by Penguin India; Priced at Rs.499
BPOs are the work places of over two million young Indian professionals today. The explosion of the BPOs in the country speaks of the phenomenal success of the offshore ventures that began with foreign companies offloading their overseas services to Indian business processing centres in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Though a global business reality, very few people know how the industry functions. The book demystifies much of the jargon associated with off-shoring.
4. `The Temple and the Mosque: The Best of Premchand`; Translated by Rakhshanda Jalil; Published by Harper Collins; Priced at Rs.250
Legions of non-Hindi speaking readers can delight in the fact that the cream of the literary gems penned by Munshi Premchand, one of India`s greatest chroniclers of social realities, has been translated in English to allow a peep into the world on the other side.
Premchand not only wrote about the seamy life and characters on the margins but his works shone with a wry yet gentle humour. Some of the stories include `The Thakur`s Bell`, `Intoxication`, `Salutation`, `A Quarter and a Ser of Wheat" and "The Salt Inspector`.
5. Book: `Tibet: A History`; Written by Sam Van Schaik; Published by Amaryllis; Priced at Rs.695
Tibet, a land of cultural diasporas, Buddhism, Dalai Lama and a lot more has always been mired in controversy. Be it the turbulent past of the land or its current political positioning, no one can agree where Tibet`s borders lie.
The book traces the history of the land from the glorious days of the Tibetan empire in the seventh century through the spread of Buddhism across Asia to the rise of the Dalai Lamas to its patron-priest relationship under Kublai Khan`s Mongol rule in the 13th and 14th centuries and trade with European powers.