The Tribune - Spectrum

, September 15, 2002

Incisive, witty & analytical essays from a superb raconteur
Manju Jaidka

Step Across This Line: Collected Non-Fiction 1992-2002
by Salman Rushdie. London: Jonathan Cape, 2002. Pages. 454. Rs. 895.

O this is the water’s edge… this is where the land begins. Creatures from the watery kingdom climbing on to the dry terrain step across a frontier, willing to face the enormous risks involved." Thus begin the Tanner Lectures on Human Values that Salman Rushdie delivered at Yale earlier this year. Entitled ‘Step Across This Line,’ this eponymous section of Rushdie’s latest book lays bare a mind that is on the one hand poetic and reflective, and on the other incisive, witty and analytical.
Books received

Meet the author
"Every book has its life, its kundali"
Humra Quraishi
YOUR critics have pointed out that none of your subsequent works could match your debut novel Paro. Comment.
Well, every novel has a life of its own, a sort of autonomous existence. Paro reached out to a lot of people, and I’m grateful that people still remember it so many years later. Yet I do feel that I’ve grown as a writer.


A delightful account of an ace pilot
Himmat Singh Gill
Arjan Singh, DFC
Marshal Of The Indian Air Force
by Roopinder Singh. Rupa. Pages 88. Rs 95.

N these depressing days of a scam a day, a biography of a living legend of our armed forces, the first Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Arjan Singh, brings some hope that all is not lost yet. This intrepid soldier stands out as an example of how one man with his dignified behaviour and soldierly élan, can truly be called a leader of men and of a mighty force that he has so energetically lead with distinction in war and in peace over the last many decades.

Signs & Signatures
Paradox of the modern self
Darshan Singh Maini
HOUGH the self has always been a radical force in human history, its high place in the calendar of values today is a relatively recent phenomenon. The drama of its dialectic is best understood if we consider the operative energies which have at once released its poetry and its pathos in our times. Such, then, is the paradox of the modern self. It’s a force for our multiple freedoms — in the fields of art, literature, education, sex, feminist concerns, human rights etc, — as also an agency that has been grievously misused to undermine classical continuities and cultures.

Personalised travelogue
Chitleen K Sethi
by Pierre Loti. Translated from French by George A. F. Inman and edited by Robert Harborough Sherard. Rupa & Co. Pages 274. Rs 195.

ANY years after the major works on India’s fascinating tradition and history had been produced by British officers posted in the country, Pierre Loti, a French traveler, wrote India, forming a part of the vast amount of Orientalist literature by Europeans on India expounding her greatness. But today, a hundred years after it was first published in 1901, Loti’s work can be more easily classified as a highly personalised travelogue than anything else.


Write view
How Burma fell to British machinations
Randeep Wadehra

Actors on the Burmese Stage: A Trilogy of the Anglo-Burmese Wars
by Terence R. Blackburn, APH, N. Delhi. Pages: Vol. 1 – 71; Vol. 2 – 109; Vol. 3 – 73. Rs 500 per volume.

HIS was the period when, in C.A. Bayly’s words, "The Pax Britannica had begun". The rise of British power in the subcontinent looked unstoppable. In the 19th century three Anglo-Burmese wars were fought, viz., 1824-26, 1852 and 1885. Maha Bandula was the Burmese hero of the first war. The Ava-based ruling Burmese dynasty seized the Irrawady delta, the Tenasserim coast, and the Arakan bordering the East India Company’s territory.

Evolution of criminal justice administration in India
Jawahar Lal Dwivedi

The Constitution and Criminal Justice Administration
by Dalbir Bharti. APH Publishing Corporation, New Delhi. Pages 320. Rs 400.

HE book under review attempts to discuss and analyse the criminal justice administration (CJA) as applicable to India in the light of constitutional provisions referring to the Constituent Assembly debates and Supreme Court rulings. It establishes how the performance of the CJA has direct impact on the success of the Constitution.

Stories from the lap of nature
Jaswant Kaur

Tiger! Tiger!
by Pratibha Nath. Madhuban Educational Books. Pages 144. Rs 50

EADING these children’s stories reminds me of the childhood when we lived in a distant village of Punjab. And in the midst of green fields and mango groves was a small house wherein lived a dadi, always ready with her pitara of engrossing tales—tales of the sadhus, the fairies, the beautiful princesses and princes and tales of the animal world. Though very old, these stories— rooted in the past with relevance for tomorrow—were very close to human nature. Learning was, therefore, a wonderful experience.

A poet’s grief
R. P. Chaddah
Parting Wish — Poems
by Vijay Vishal. Writers Workshop. Rs 100.

HERE is a difference between solitude (which we all need) and being alone (when we fall prey to loneliness). In order to achieve the former, you tend to detach yourself from the world around you for a while; you need to overcome the dangers of isolating yourself by reaching out to people through your poems, if you are a poet. Parting Wish is one such collection of poems especially written to keep the memory of the poet’s wife afresh, ‘who smiled while alive and smiled out of poet’s life’ at a young age, leaving the poet with a blue chip of grief.