Short Story Reads: Night in Tunisia and Other Stories by Neil Jordan

Over the years my shepherd like attitude to books has waned. No longer does my heart bleed if a page has a dog-ear. Placing a book under a heap of dozen other books to straighten out the dog-ear, applying steam iron on the page, binding books with cardboard hardcover, designing a separate book cover with … Read more

Poetry Reads: Basanti Hawa by Kedarnath Agarwal

There are innumerable things about the Hindi language that appeals to this writer’s heart.  Expressing in English has its joys in putting pen to paper, in arranging, rearranging words, in description, documentation, rhyme and flow.  But for the sheer spontaneity of conversation – Hindi it is. The following Hindi poem (featured here with my translation) is a school favourite. … Read more

Fiction Reads: A Tiger for Malgudi by RK Narayan

RK Narayan (1906 – 2001) Most of RK Narayan’s novels and short stories are set in the fictional, sleepy town of Malgudi, somewhere in south India. A Tiger for Malgudi is no exception. Even as an aging zoo tiger narrates its life history, the story’s climatic moments inevitably occur in the small town. Instead of … Read more

Poetry Reads: Jejuri by Arun Kolatkar

   Arun Kolatkar (1932-2004) was reclusive (didn’t own a telephone: ever), bilingual poet with rare gifts.  A clear demarcation of style and substance is evident in his Marathi and English works. Apart from wit, satire, and humour, Kolatkar’s English poetry has its unique punchlines, dream-scraping, and exaggerated comic imagery. A Sir J.J School of Art … Read more

Poetry Reads: When I Dance by James Berry

The second-hand book market in Pune has its share of hidden treasures. All one needs to do is linger in such surroundings, engage in some scouring, back-bending, explore untouched stacks and dusty corners, and who knows what you may come across? It was on one such lingering expedition that I happened to grab a copy … Read more

Poetry Reads: Celia Celia by Adrian Mitchell

It was on a visit to the city British Library that I came upon on a wonderful anthology called Poems on the Underground. That was when I chanced upon a particular Adrian Mitchell poem, among many other beautiful, varied reads. Poems on the Underground is pretty much a poetry-lover’s collector’s item.  The London Metro train … Read more

Fiction Reads: Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

In the summer of 1947, a gruesome, violent bloodbath ensues during the turbulent India-Pakistan partition, killing millions in its wake.  Menwhile at the border village of Mano Majra, life goes on as usual.  The residents time their daily routine of chores, meals, work, prayers and sleep to the sound of trains arriving-departing at the railway … Read more

Fiction Reads: Turbulence by Samit Basu

All passengers on a London-Delhi flight mysteriously end up with superpowers. Soon, the new, uncertain beings take sides. The meek are done away with and only a few remain of the lot. A battle for survival and domination ensues. Meanwhile, film, comic book, music and other popular culture references populate the plot, keeping it light … Read more

Author Quotes: Henning Mankell Quote on How Big is the World…

Sailing Boat, Mozambique Henning Mankell (1948-2015), the Swedish crime writer, narrated this incident at a literary festival. I happen to have a documented, undated magazine cutting of the same, paraphrased below.   Mankell was apparently interacting with an audience at Inhaca, Mozambique once. On an unexpected tangent, some curious teenagers, inadvertently infused a twist into the … Read more

Poetry Reads: I Like You to be Still by Pablo Neruda

Sometimes, a book finds you, like it wanted to be found. Pablo Neruda’s second collection of poetry lay furtively read and untouched in my bookshelf for over a year.  Yesterday night, as if in a haze I picked it up and discovered in euphoric shock what I had missed. It’s like I were asleep in … Read more