Understanding Islam
Gayatri Rajwade
Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Times
by Karen Armstrong. Harper Press. Pages 249.
Religion needs introduction primarily because it can easily raise hackles today. The gentler and rational followers of Islam probably understand this better than any other people. Karen Armstrong’s biography of Prophet Muhammad is an excellent and simply written ‘source’ on a religion that preaches compassion above all else.

Books received: ENGLISH

Intellectual mystery
Aditi Garg
Special Topics in Calamity Physics
by Marisha Pessl. Penguin. Pages 514. £ 2.99.
THE hallmarks of a riveting mystery don’t let your thoughts wander and make sure that you keep turning the pages, not allowing you to put it down before you reach the very end. A sense of euphoria engulfs you and keeps you that way for at least some time. You can feel the anticipation, the hurt and the ecstasy of the characters as your own.

Examining inequalities
Ivninderpal Singh
Caste-based Reservations and Human Development in India
by K.S. Chalam. Sage. Pages 210. Rs 275.
Caste-based unrest in India is a common phenomenon and the latest clashes among Gujjars and Meenas in Rajasthan, which had started over the issue of reservation and turned into a bloody caste conflict over the former’s demand for inclusion into the Scheduled Tribe list, have once again brought this issue to the fore. What should be done to avoid such situations?

Surgeon’s-eye view of history
Himmat Singh Gill
The History of the Sikhs
by W.L.M’Gregor. Rupa. Pages 376. Rs 595.
Originally written in 1846 by a British army surgeon, who was present in the Anglo-Sikh wars of the time, and incorporating the biographies of the Sikh Gurus and Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, this reprint retains the original, somewhat quaint spellings, which have been reproduced in this review.

The doctrine of karma
Sunil Sharma
What you would Like to Know About Karma
by J.P. Vaswani. Sterling. Pages 161. Rs 85.
WHAT is karma? Is there life after death? Do we have any control over our destiny? These are some of the questions the mankind has pondered over since eternity. The theory of karma is a very complex topic, which the author has chosen to write about. It is as an ancient a topic as our civilisation, and as complicated as this universe.

Short stories in short supply
Zafri Mudasser Nofil
S the novel a preferred choice for publishers than the short story? Yes to some extent, say a few writers but according to publishers it all depends on the work and there are no generalisations. "Short fiction has always got the short shrift. I think in the West they have kind of settled the issue, but in India even today only a novelist is considered a serious writer of fiction," says Delhi-based author Shinie Antony, who has written two volumes of short stories—Barefoot And Pregnant and Planet Polygamous—and one novel, Kardamom Kisses.

A Bible for soccer lovers
M.S. Unnikrishnan
Almanack of World Football 2007
by Guy Oliver Headline London. £ 12.
THE World Cup Football Championship for the Jules Rimet Trophy offers such a wide and panoramic canvas that it provides fodder for many a book, though the Almanac of World Football 2007 beats them all, for the sheer volume of information it carries.

Heart-warming prose
Aparna M. Sridhar
Tarbela Damned – Pakistan Tamed
by C.N. Anand. Indialog Publications, New Delhi. Pages 192. Rs 195.
Tarbela Damned – Pakistan Tamed is a racy work of fiction set amidst political and social crises in the sub-continent. It is the kind of book one would want to read while waiting for delayed flights or on long tedious train journeys. It is a heady mixture of diplomacy, terrorism and inter-continental intelligence, with a fairy-tale ending in which India brings Pakistan to heel.

Real-life Bridget Jones not worried about Mr Right
A new study has crushed the Bridget Jones myth by suggesting that many single women are happy with their status, and get all the closeness they need from friends, family and so-called ‘buddies’. Dr Roona Simpson interviewed dozens of women about their lifestyles and attitudes and found that the vast majority were too busy with their careers and social lives to be bothered about their Mr Right.

Back of the book

  • The Adoption by Dave Hill
    Headline. Pages 312. £ 2.99

  • Companions of Paradise
    by Thalassa Ali, Headline. Pages 334. £ 6.00