Archive for March 3rd, 2013

March 3, 2013

February Reading

My reading this month was determined by reviews, the Delhi Book Fair, and Delhi Comic Con, as will probably become clear.

Jhangir Kerawala, The Adventures of Timpa: The Red Hooded Gang, Operation Rescue, The Golden Horn, The Legacy of the Gods: The Timpa comics were inspired by the Tintin series, but set in Calcutta. Timpa is a teenaged? possibly? boy who solves crimes with the help of his very trusting policeman father and a grumpy grandfather who always seems to get things wrong. I’m writing a longer piece on them elsewhere, but for now know that I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Mridula Koshy, Not Only The Things That Have Happened: My review should be appearing in The Hindustan Times in the near future. When Koshy’s book of short stories came out a few years ago most of the Indian critical establishment was raving about her style. I somehow managed not to read If It Is Sweet but I think I will have to. At the level of the individual sentence Koshy is better than most writers I can think of. Not Only The Things … is a book whose plot sounds potentially very annoying and Indian Literary Fiction-y, but it manages simply by being playful and nuanced and gorgeously written to avoid that awful fate. I really, really liked it.

Roma Singh, The Magic Feather: Part of my bookfair loot. I talked about it here.

Francesca Xotta, Owl Ball: See above.

Dr Zakir Husain, Samina Mishra, Pooja Pottenkulam, The Bravest Goat in the World: See above.

Mark O’Connell, Epic Fail: An exploration of bad art gone viral. I wrote a column about Epic Fail here. It’s clever and personal as well as being very funny, and I really enjoyed it.

Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time: A reread, in honour of current events. I wrote about it here.

Gwyneth Jones, Divine Endurance: I can’t remember when I last bounced off a book so badly. I’ve enjoyed Jones’ writing, both fiction and nonfiction, before, and while I was wary of a book by a British author set in postapocalyptic Asia I was quite looking forward to engaging with the set of issues that that raised. But I could never enter the book even that much; it’s possible other people will enjoy this, but to me it felt like running repeatedly into a brick wall.

Anjali Purohit, Ragi-Ragini: I wrote about this for the column and will post it on the blog soon. Ragi-Ragini is a fictionalised memoir disguised as a recipe book, but the memoir parts do not only tell the story of “Ragini”, but (second-hand) that of her mother; and the whole is interleaved with poetry that traces the life of yet another woman. It’s a bit stilted or overwritten at times but it is also doing a number of things and it’s a lovely, warm book about female communities and some of the recipes look quite tasty as well.

Gail Carriger, Etiquette and Espionage: Reading the first pages of Carriger’s new series (set in the same universe as her Parasol Protectorate books but some years earlier) I had a sense of deja vu; surely we’d already seen our young heroine, a Disappointment to her Family, have a dessert-spillage related incident as our introduction to her? It’s possible that the series will pick up, but I found this first book weak. Plus, it is almost criminal to have 19th century fictional boarding schools for girls and boys to teach them things like espionage and hand-to-hand fighting (and curtseying) and not make use of that fantastic 19th century school story genre that already exists for you to play with. In short, I was underwhelmed.

Christian Morganstern, Sirish Rao, Rathna Ramanathan, In the Land of Punctuation: I loved this, and wrote about it here.

Vidyun Sabhaney and Shohei Emura, Mice Will Be Mice: I first discovered Sabhaney’s work in Blaft’s Obliterary Journal last year. Mice Will Be Mice has a more conventional narrative than her piece in that (about an exploding donkey); a lab experiment goes wrong, there are giant mice, there are some funny visual jokes and the solution is surprisingly simple. There isn’t much to it that I can see, but I enjoyed it anyway.