A tragicomic soap opera
Amar Chandel
Doordarshan Days by Bhaskar Ghose.
Penguin/Viking, New Delhi Pages 238. Rs 395
Those born and brought up on a staple diet of private TV channels can scarcely believe that there was a time when Doordarshan reigned supreme, but they who were witness to that era would recall how it dominated one’s life. Bhaskar Ghose headed the organisation in the turbulent 1980s and played an instrumental role in all that it was notorious for. He has now penned those bitter-sheet memories in a no-holds-barred fashion and made it as racy as a spy thriller.

OFF the shelf
Gandhi’s friend and comrade
V. N. Datta
A Clear Star: C. F. Andrews and India, 1904-1914
Daniel O’Connor. Chronicle Books, New Delhi. Pages 300. Price not stated.
THIS work, a revised edition of the earlier expensive European version, includes new material on the Indian Church commentaries, which explore how a confirmed Christian missionary like C. F. Andrews wrestled with the idea of adjusting the missionary propaganda with his ideals of liberating India from the British rule.

Prism of life
Jyoti Singh
Voices in the City
Anita Desai Orient Paperbacks,
Pages 245. Rs 175.
Winner of the Sahitya Academy Award, Anita Desai’s Voices in the City is a novel based on the life of middle-class intellectuals. The story is woven around two sisters, Monisha and Amla, and their brother, Nirode, caught in the cross-currents of changing social values. Indian social milieu in transition—holding on to the traditional views, yet inclining towards the forces of modernity—is in focus.

The chosen few
Rachna Singh
25 Eminent Indians: 1947-2005
H. N. Verma and Amrit Verma
GIP Books. Pages 245. Price not stated
Everyone reads history, but only a few write history; and those who make history are rarer still.
The Vermas have put together vignettes of 25 Indians who have shaped the history of modern India. The historical canvas encompasses not only political figures but also they who have made a mark in science, humanities, fine arts, business and law.

Prove you are extraordinary
Bob Thompson
ive years ago, Yiyun Li had a problem: How do you persuade the literary world to take you seriously when you’re a 28-year-old native Chinese speaker trying to write in English, you’ve published exactly nothing and your training consists of a single adult-education class?

Central Asia centrestage
Parshotam Mehra
Central Asia: Pre-historic to Modern Times,
by B.G. Gafurov Vol. I, Maulana Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata, Shipra Publications, Delhi, 2005, pp. xxii + 464, price (2 vols) Rs. 2,500
This impressive tome is the English version published for the first time of the well-known Soviet Tajik Orientalist Babajan Gafurov’s magnum opus, Tazhiki. First published from Moscow in Russian in 1972, it appeared 17 years later from Dushanbe (1989); the book under review is based on the latter edition. Tazhiki is a well-researched, comprehensive historical account of all the peoples of Central Asia, and not of the Tajiks only.

Tales that left an imprint
Harsh A. Desai on the books that enthused him and fired his imagination in 2005
The other day I was sitting at the Leopold Café at Colaba, in Bombay with a wise man discussing books and he was telling me about his favourite books. He happily mentioned Lawrence Durrrell and George Elliot but his eyes really lit up when he started talking about Conrad and Melville; so I asked him.
  • Teacher man by Frank McCourt

  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion 

  • Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

  • The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

  • The Sea by John Banville

  • Two Lives by Vikram Seth

  • Memories of My Meloncholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

  • Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Picks from the world of non-fiction
Real-life narratives can often be more riveting than fiction. M. Rajivlochan on the tomes that created a buzz