News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

Powerful narratives on the leisure bookshelf

New Delhi: Drama and sensitive story-telling take the miasma out of the lazy weekend on the IANS book cart. Browse through the pile...

1.Book: "Not Only the Things That Have Happened"; Written by Mridula Koshy; Published by Harper Collins-India; Price: Rs.499

A woman relinquishes her four-year-old son to tourists passing through town. Losing him, she loses the story of her future. A world away from her, the boy becomes a man without the story of his past. Decades on, the mother struggles on her deathbed to find the story that will release her from life; the son`s struggle is for the story that will
allow him to live.

The book takes place over a thirty-six hour period, travelling between far-flung places, characters, the past and the future. Time is a character here, revealing that though the story of our present is always told for us, the story of the past and the future is ours to tell.

2.Book: "The Dalai Lama`s Cat"; Written by David Michie; Published by Hay House; Price: Rs.399

Not so much fly-on-the-wall as cat-on-the-sill, this is the warm-hearted tale of a small kitten rescued from the slums of New Delhi who finds herself in a beautiful sanctuary with sweeping views of the snow-capped Himalayas.

In her exotic new home, the Dalai Lama`s cat encounters Hollywood stars, Buddhist masters, Ivy-league professors, famous philanthropists, and a host of other people who come visiting His Holiness. Each encounter offers a fresh insight into finding happiness and meaning in the midst of a life of busy-ness and challenge.

3.Book: "Chaos Theory"; Written by Anubav Paul; Published by Pan Macmillan; Price: Rs.499

Sunita and Mukesh are friends. He`s cynical, from Calcutta, cocky and well-read. She`s clever, curious and amused by him. It`s the 1960s, Delhi University. Fashionable movies play at the art deco cinemas, Nehruvian poshness is stylish, The Beatles are the rage.

They meet over a quotation game involving William Shakespeare and whisky. They both realize there`s something special here.

They have burning questions, as young people do, about things literary, philosophical, existential, romantic. The answers lie in an endless set of conversations with Sunita over Scotch, Mukesh imagines.

Till she thinks America will be the answer, and leaves for a PhD in her search. He follows her. What happens, over the next 40 years, is a journey - to carry on that conversation. Across continents, campuses, decades, marriages and life. To find what it is they really want to say.

4.Book: "The Skinning Tree"; Written by Srikumar Sen; Published by Pan Macmillan; Price: Rs.499

Nine-year-old Sabby lives in his imagination, at his grandmother`s house in Calcutta. He lives in a family where the anglicised sophistication of bridge and dinner parties co-exist with Indian values and nationalism.

Sabby`s world is filled with the adventures of comic book heroes, tales from far and away, successfully pulling him away from the city that breathes outside his doorstep. But when the Japanese advance on India during World War II, Sabby finds himself being sent to a boarding school in northern India.

In a regime of rules and punishments, the schoolboys are beaten and brutalized by the teachers; they are transformed into mirrors of their abusers.

From the mindless killing of birds and animals, the bodies of their skinned trophies are thrown on to a cactus known as the `Skinning Tree`, the boys` thoughts turn to murder, which to them feels like a natural consequence of the pain inflicted on them.

Conspiratorial whisperings and talk of killing and revenge spiral into a tragedy engulfing Sabby. Revisiting the ghosts of memory that haunted a boyhood, the book is an elegant debut.

5.Book: "The Last War"; Written by Sandipan Deb; Published by Pan Macmillam; Price: Rs.299

Bombay 1955. Aging Parsi businessman Rustom Pestonjee chances upon brilliant archer Yash Kuru at the Gateway of India. Struggling to make ends meet to feed his two nephews and adopted son, Yash accepts Pestonjee`s offer to become a hitman for one night, the start of a unique relationship.

When Pestonjee dies, Yash pledges to be regent of his mentor`s empire of crime, and hand it over one day to the most deserving man from a yet-unborn generation of Kurus.

Yash`s august `dharma` will now determine the destinies of three generations of Kuru
men and women. Mumbai 2007.

A family torn asunder and an empire up for grabs. Yash`s grand-nephews battle it out for control of the city`s underworld, as Rishabh, Vikram and Jeet try to reclaim what Rahul and Ranjit had seized from them through deceit.

Can the wily Kishenbhai`s strategy defeat Karl Fernandes` deadly warcraft? Will pitiless Jahn get the revenge she yearns for? Who will own Mumbai?

A modern-day version of "The Mahabharata," the book is a page-turning account of brothers in arms and families at war.

In the gritty expanse of India`s most dynamic city, from its ritzy high-rises to its mean streets and slums, are tested, blood is drawn and only "dharma" can justify the
means to a devastating end.