Price: 195 INR
Like everybody else, I had known Piyush Jha as a Bollywood film director. That is, till the result of his debut as a writer, Mumbaistan found its way to my doorstep. It surprised me, intrigued me and by the end of it, made a satisfied reader of me. Needless to say then, that when his second installment, Compass Box Killer was sent to me, it carried with it, the responsibility of meeting my high expectations.
There are a few things in life that just fit when paired together: wine and cheese, rum and coke, even Bollywood and song and dance sequences. Looking back at history, crime and Mumbai, for better or worse seem to have a similar association. He picked the protagonist of one of Mumbaistan’s stories – inspector Virkar from Injectionwala and put him against an intelligent and scheming murderer. And coming from his Bollywood background, how could Jha resist the temptation of adding a seductress, in this case, an attractive female reporter.
The story wastes no time in delving right in with a policeman’s mysterious murder in the very first few pages. A murder that would have been labelled food poisoning if not for inspector Virkar’s discovery of an old metal compass box with a note that says “Akurle is just the first to die. To find out who is next, find me first.” The murderer dares the Mumbai police to catch up with him if they can by declaring the name of the next intended victim but the system proves weaker and the carnage continues. The murderer keeps constantly pushing inspector Virkar to to the very edge while the media led by the alluring and ruthlessly ambitious Raashi ‘hunterwali’ Hunerwal are harrying him. As the corpses keep piling up, the media keeps breathing further down the inspector’s neck, moving ever so close to that big red panic button and sending Mumbai into yet another frenzy. With a audacious and intelligent killer, a sexy and go-getting crime reporter and a mysterious victim on his hands, Virkar is not sure who is hunting and who is being hunted.
With its right brand and doze of twist and turns at just the right pace for a mystery novel, Compass Box Killer has done enough right to be a worthy read. What is could’ve done better, however was give the reader a richer back-story for the murderer, with a little more emotional content. The fragmented use of Hindi is almost a norm in Indian English literature nowadays but Jha even managed to squeeze in a few Marathi words here and there which, for me would count as a con as a local dialect will be unintelligible to the greater mass.
My verdict? Recommended.
Publisher: All About Books Global
ISBN Number: 9788192569017
Words Of Smiths is not just another anthology of poems. It’s a movement; a step forward for Indian English literature. Loaded with fifty-four poems from all across the country, Words Of Smiths is a testament of the growing sensation that is English literature emerging from the subcontinent.
WizKonect introduces “Wordsmith” – a national level poetry contest. First in its own kind, “Wordsmith” works towards bringing Indian poems and poets into limelight. The book “word of smiths” comprises of the best entries of this contest. In the dictionary, the most beautiful word, asides from God and love, is poetry. Poetry is beauty and beauty is endless, therefore, poetry is endlessly beautiful. Magical integration of words which pass on great feelings to the readers. Poetry in India has been emerging and has recently produced some fine performers. Its new and yes, it brings a new light with it. The words that flow out of heart, put down on a piece of paper, brings to you the pensive mood of a pondering mind. India is a land blessed with culture, spirit, literature, knowledge and a lot more.
Forwarded by a beautiful opening lines by publisher Shreya Chatterjee, the book provided an empty canvas for people to paint their emotions on. From the melancholic “Loneliness” to the spiritual and uplifting “The Victorious Truth”; from “I Want To Be A Kid Again”, a tale we’ve all heard our minds say to the heart-wrenching feelings in “Fading Away”, the book has some real gems. Of course, as the beautiful “With Them Closed” would tell you, not everything can be rosy. Not all of the poems are good and some even have minor editing errors. But on the whole, Words Of Smiths is a giant step in the right direction.
Author: Parna Banerjee Sarkar
Publisher: All About Books Global
ISBN Number: 9788192569024
I have to say this right off the bat: Parna Banerjee Sarkar’s Axiom Of Oomph was a joy to read. Right from the beautiful cover illustration to the beautiful fonts used in it, everything about the book is very inviting. The publisher, All About Books Global really nailed this one (although I couldn’t find a(n) content/index which was rather odd). I know I usually don’t talk about the business part of writing and publishing but Indian publishing houses can take a few pointers from this little piece of wonder.
Now, coming back to what really matters; the verses in the book are one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of reading by an Indian writer. Here’s a woman who not only recognizes her own emotions but also has the skill and talent to put them in to words, and how. There were only a handful of instances where I was left less than impressed. But if a first-timer can put out work of such quality you wouldn’t be fooling yourself for expecting great things from her, if she decides to carry on.
Where Axiom Of Oomph gets it absolutely right is that it found a writer who was very aware of her emotions and wasn’t threatened by the thought of putting it into words for the whole world to see. I come across writers and poets every day. Most of them have the skill to write good English. Few have the courage to write good literature. No matter what anyone says, a top tier university cannot teach you how to produce literature. It may open you up to that world but if you want to be a part of it, you have to shed your insecurities; make yourself vulnerable by showing your hand. And that is what Parna Banerjee Sarkar has managed with great success. I would obviously recommend you to the book in its entirety but it is my job to let you know that you can’t go wrong with “Celestial Body”, “Apathy”, “A Narrow Line” and “I Have Also Absorbed The Colours Of My Ink”.
Jia, a Chinese girl, loves an Indian boy, Jivan. Together they dream to build an edifice of love but the deteriorating Sino-Indian relations deter them. Time separates them. The novel depicts love and Sino-Indian relations, how the time changes and how they reunites.
Love Across The Borders is Sudam Chandra Panigrahi’s first attempt at published writing. And for what it’s worth, it’s better than many a first-time Indian-English books. As the title would suggest, it’s a story of forbidden love.
Where the story succeeds in, is by not making it yet another dragged out story about sad little teenagers in love (a plot that is unfortunately much too popular among Indian writers). It in fact, deals with world politics, social stigmas, cultural differences and an international fight for power. Across the barriers of cultural differences - Jia and Jivan find solace in each other from the terrors of Sino-Indian rivalrlies. A Chinese representative for Beijing Power and a local official of Indian firm- the only link was this singular truth- they stood by each other at the time of need. Soon it turned into a need of lifetime companionship and togetherness and the two decide to do just that. But apart from the country borders, they had to deal with the wrath of Chinese immigrants, local sentiments and the malicious bureaucrats.
It is, in a strange way, quite an intimate story of a love affair thwarted by Sino-Indian relationships, detachment and a censorious family with an astute rendering of communal stigma in a chalk and cheese scenario with shuddering sequence of events passing on the ups and downs of the central characters happenings.
The real flaw of the book is not the content but the presentation. That really does give away the fact that this was written by a first-timer. Since the 16th century, every story about forbidden love has been compared to Romeo and Juliet by a certain William Shakespeare. But that’s not really fair now is it? Love Across The Borders, in its own right, is worth a read.
As a fan of good literature, I have, more often than not, been disappointed with the Indian kind. Alka Dimri Saklani’s 45 Days in a Cancer Hospital does not fall into the majority. Although I wouldn’t call it a “medical” mystery per se, it has enough medical jargon to fool your average Joe. But throughout the novel I felt that the medicine bit was just a hook or just another layer to the story. In reality, it’s a mixture of drama and thriller – a recipe that has proven to be almost always successful, if done properly. And in spite of its flaws, 45 Days deserves that success.
The story is about a writer, Ashritha, writing a novel while she gathers real world intel, living for 45 days in Umeed hospital, in the proximity of cancer patients who have had their dates handed to them with their prescriptions. However, the hospital is so much more than nameless people dying alone in clean beds. This hospital has it all, a crazy dean of medicine to corrupt doctors waiting to cut you open and sell your body parts for a payday.
Salkani sure has the art of making the reader feel all kinds of creepy down and how. At one point in the story almost everyone seemed just as likely to be the suspect or the victim, just before it occurred to me that all of this could also just be in Ashritha’s head.
The strange characters – all with their idiosyncrasies seemed a little too gimmicky and over-the-top for my taste. On the other hand, the main characters are all well-formed, a commendable quality in a debut. The obvious flaw which, sadly, all but the best Indian English writers seem to have is the lack of complete mastery over the language. No matter what, some typically Indian colloquial phrases and terms creep into the writing which always manages to put me off. Of course, most Indian readers might be absolutely fine with this style.
If you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll know that I do not quantify my opinion because let’s face it that’s just stupid. Instead, I’m just going to say that 45 Days in a Cancer Hospital will be time and money well spent if you’re willing to look past its minor flaws.