The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, March 16, 2003

A migrant comes home
Rumina Sethi
My Brother’s Face
by Dhan Gopal Mukerji. Rupa. Pages 288. Rs 195.

OR a book that was first published in 1925, I was expecting to see a different kind of India. One has it figured out today that the Orientalist-Utilitarian attitudes always constructed India keeping in mind mere political expediency, and that to counter this construction, writers from the sub-continent had to decolonise the existing misrepresentations and, of course, come out with their own expansive constructs.

An accurate account of present-day Pakistan
Himmat Singh Gill
by Owen Bennett Jones. Penguin Viking. Pages 328. Rs 395
SOME countries have strategic importance thrust upon them, and Pakistan is a classic example of one such country. The war against the Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the American reliance on Pakistan, diplomatically and materially, as the former prepares to go to war with Iraq, and its elevation to the status of a nuclear-weapon state, have all combined to increase the importance of Pakistan in world affairs.


A chronicle of our times
Manju Jaidka

In Times of Siege
by Githa Hariharan. Viking, 2003. Pages 206.Rs 295.
The issues that In Times of Siege deals with are those which have been around for a while even as we stood by, watching helplessly.

ITHA Hariharan, who shot into prominence with her Commonwealth Prize-winning novel, The Thousand Faces of the Night, later followed by The Ghosts of Vasu Master and When Dreams Travel, is one of the leading Indian writers who write in English. Her latest novel, In Times of Siege, takes up a contemporary situation, focusing on a middle-aged professor in an open university in New Delhi.

Insight into mechanics of labour
M. Rajivlochan

Development and Deprivation in Gujarat: In Honour of Jan Breman.
edited by Ghanshyam Shah, Mario Rutten and Hein Strefkerk. Sage, New Delhi. Pages 345. Rs 580.

would recommend this book to anyone interested in Indian history and society for two reasons: one, that it celebrates the work of Jan Breman and, two, for its informative and high-quality essays. Born in a working class family in the Netherlands, Jan Breman chose the history and sociology of the labouring classes as his metier.


Fleeing the cage has its pains too
Cookie Maini

Desirable Daughters
by Bharati Mukherjee. Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 310, Rs 195.

LOSE on the heels of Manju Kapoor’s Difficult Daughters comes Desirable Daughters by Bharati Mukherjee, at any rate a progression in the fictional recasting of gender from the earlier title Enslaved Daughters by Sudhir Chandra. Interestingly, both the former books are a search for roots, and an endeavour at mapping gender identities.

Saga of Dostoevsky's tussle with the ideas of his day
M. L. Raina

Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871-1881
by Joseph Frank. Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford. Pages: X+784. $35

ORGES declared in 1922 that 'the self does not exist'. Derrida, Barthes and Foucault - to say nothing of their current academic legatees - go cock-a-hoop over the 'death of the author'. Still, ironically enough, lives of writers, painters and musicians continue to be written about and published by up-market publishers.

Write view
Different religions, common ideals
Randeep Wadehra

Ethical Perceptions of World Religions
by Dr Karam Singh Raju. Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Pages 332. Rs 350.

HENEVER an enlightened soul has tried to erase social stratification — be it creed-based or otherwise — he has been crucified and, posthumously, deified. Thence, in his name, a new religion, and hence an additional stratum, has been created. So today we have a plethora of religions, creeds and sects that preach essentially the same universal values and yet have managed to be at loggerheads with each other.

Chivalry in the exotic Deccan
Arun Gaur

When the Fight Was Done
by Frank Rogers. Penguin. Pages 281. Rs 250

HE title When the Fight was Done almost contemptuously (or self-mockingly or broodingly or nostalgically) does away with the content of the novel raising the pointer to the endnote—the invisible oblique epilogue—in one quick portentous sweep. What rich harvest awaits one (here Captain Robert—Robbie—MacKenzie of the Poona Subsidiary Force), when the much vaunted, much sought fight is done or possibly overdone?

Right to life is more than physical existence

Fundamental Human Rights, The Right to Life and Personal Liberty
by Sunil Deshta & Kiran Deshta. Deep & Deep, New Delhi. Pages 269. Price not mentioned.

HE Emergency clamped on the people of India by one of our former Prime Ministers and subsequently the 42nd amendment have been the starting point for many discussions. Some questioned the status of Articles 19, 20 and 21 during the proclamation of Emergency. It is basically these fundamental rights, especially Art 21, which the authors set out to explore. Written in a very technical language, you cannot simply browse though this book.

Looking for trouble on a holiday? Read on...
Deepika Gurdev

Holidays in Hell
by P.J. O’ROURKE. Grove Press. $20 (Singapore). Pages 272.

F you want a guided tour of he world’s most desolate, dangerous and desperate places, then P.J. O’Rourke’s bestselling Holidays in Hell is just the book for you. From Warsaw to Managua to Belfast, O’ Rourke takes his readers around the globe on a fact-finding, fun-filled mission. The result is a no-holds-barred romp through politics, culture and ideology.