The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Art in the face of hunger
M. L. Raina

by Knut Hamsun. Translated from Norwegian by Robert Bly. Noonday Press, New York. Pages 240. $14.

N an earlier piece in these pages I invoked J. M. Coetzee’s remark that a literary classic is ‘what survives’ changes in the history of taste. Hamsun’s is one such novel still widely read more than a hundred years after its first publication in 1890. This latest translation indicates its power to affect the reader beyond its immediate time and place.

An interesting historical narrative
Padam Ahlawat

The Mangarh Chronicles
by Gary Worthington. Penguin Books, India. Pages 591. Rs 395.

ARY Worthington has produced a historical fiction of epic proportions. The novel is not confined to one period of history. The main story revolves around the Maharaja of Mangarh, a former princely state in Rajasthan. The year is 1975, when Emergency has been imposed and political leaders imprisoned. The Maharaja is also arrested and income tax officials come searching for his fabulous hidden wealth. Interspersed within this story are several other stories. These begin with the Indus Valley town of Kanur and go through different periods of Indian history. The one thread which links all these tales, sometimes remotely, is Mangarh.


Anecdotes from an eventful life
Punam Khaira Sidhu

From Reserve Bank to Finance Ministry and Beyond: Some Reminiscences
by M. Narasimhan. UBSPD. Pages 189. Rs 395

AMBRIDGE-Majlis Annual Dinner: Chief guest High Commissioner Krishna Menon and guest of honour Dr Todd, professor of chemistry who went on to win the Nobel Prize. Krishna Menon goes against convention and in his after-dinner speech gives a serious long account of India’s dams and projects. Dr Todd responds with an anecdote of a white man and an Australian aborigine. The aborigine was so impressed with the white man’s gun that he threw away his boomerang, which on its return felled him.

You can hate but not ignore Kant
R. K. Gupta

The Living Thoughts of Kant
by Julian Benda. Rupa, Delhi. Pages 228. Rs 150.

HE present work is part of a series aimed at presenting living thoughts of various leading thinkers of the world. Julian Benda (1867-1956), the author of this work, was a French novelist and philosopher. His other works include The Yoke of Pity, The Youth of an Intellectual and A Regulator in His Century.

Loose autobiographical musings
Akshaya Kumar

Real Time: Stories and Reminiscence
by Amit Chaudhuri. Picador India. Pages 184. Rs. 395.

N broad generic terms, both novel and short story belong to the realm of fiction, but this does not necessarily mean that a successful novelist would be equally at ease with writing a short story. The larger canvas of the novel affords room for building up a sustained narrative. A short story, however, requires skills of a different kind. The narrative of a short story has to be taut and precise. Not many situations can be carried together in a short story; ideally, only one situation corresponds to a short story.

What makes Indian culture tick
Rajiv Lochan

Indian Culture: A Sociological Study
by Dhurjati Prasad Mukerji, with an introduction by Ashok Mitra. First published 1948, this reprint, Rupa, Delhi, 2002. Pages 220. Rs 195

HURJATI Prasad Mukerji, one of the ancestors of present-day sociology in India, first came out with a draft of the book under review in 1942, at a time when Indian society was undergoing a considerable amount of ferment. The war in Europe that claimed a large number of Indian resources had been going on since 1939. Wartime shortages had begun to have a negative impact on the quality of life, such as it was in those days.

Balancing home and work

Women & Rural Entrepreneurship in India
edited by D. D. Sharma and S. K. Dhameja. Abhishek Publications, Chandigarh. Pages 232. Rs 495.

T is often said that to understand a civilisation, its excellences and its limitations, one has to study the history of the position and status of women in it. The concept of women’s empowerment, thus, carries a lot of significance and it has always been dependent on the prevailing models of development. This is what the book under review wants to prove.


Poetic and lyrical tribal tales

Harbir K. Singh

Painted Words
An Anthology of Tribal Literature
edited by G. N. Devy. Penguin Books. Pages 302. Rs 295.

RIBAL arts or artists interpret verbal or pictorial space in a very flexible frame. The main and beautiful characteristic of tribal art is its explicit manner of constructing space and imagery, which is almost hallucinatory. The book paints an attractive picture of tribals. It is a compilation of tribal songs and stories from different states of India.

Meet the author
An inscrutable success
Sanjay Austa
HO is the author of the bestselling Indian book? Amitabh Bachchan could well have asked this question on his popular TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati. And it wouldn’t have been a surprise if no one on the hot-seat could answer the question correctly even after exhausting all three lifelines. For the names that come easily to mind are of famous Indian writers who create history of sorts receiving crores of rupees in book advance.

Punjabi Literature
A biography of Tolstoy, in Punjabi
Jaspal Singh
OST Punjabi novelists weave their narratives around social themes. Occasionally a writer takes up issues concerning an individual and his existential problems. Inder Singh Khamosh from Barnala has done precisely that. He has written a biographical novel, Kafar Maseeha (Aesthetics Publication, Ludhiana), about the life of Leo Tolstoy, one of the tallest literary figures of all times who as a writer and reformer is worshipped by millions of people across continents.

Write view
Reliving the pain of Partition
Randeep Wadehra

Oh God, It is too Much….
by Jasvir Dosanjh. Mukta Publication, Delhi. Pages 96. Rs 150

HE story of Caravan, one of the stories in this book can be summerised thus: A train from Pakistan carrying Hindus and Sikhs has to stop at Raiwind for three days due to communications breakdown. Wadhawa Singh cannot bear to see the plight of his family in the heat and humidity of August. He decides to go to his friend Fazaldin’s house, which is nearby, to fetch water. The advice of securitymen and friends on the train is of no avail as Wadhawa has great faith in Fazaldin’s friendship.