Grief of a nation
Himmat Singh Gill

The Ministry of Special Cases
by Nathan Englander. Faber and Faber.
Pages 339. Rs 695.

It is a bad period in the history of Argentina that Nathan sets his first novel in. In these hard times, when a military coup has just taken place and those without an identity card are picked up and disappear without a trace, Kaddish Poznan earns a living in Buenos Aires visiting cemeteries in the dead of night along with his son, Pato, where both (the former willingly and the latter most unwillingly) chip off from tombstones the names and any visible links of the disreputable ancestry of those who today are the rich and affluent and who do not want to own up their dead.

Romantic reminiscences
Romancing with Life: An Autobiography
by Dev Anand. Penguin Books India. Pages 438. Price 695.
The image of Dev Anand, for me, always coalesces with the image of ‘Raju’ of Guide who with his magical chant brings rain and succour to a parched famine-struck terrain. The role of ‘Raju’, incidentally also won critical acclaim for Dev Anand who hitherto had been just a romantic hero with a ‘puff’, stylised dialogue delivery and a winsome smile. But this is not his only claim to fame. This Gregory Peck look-alike has given some endearing performances in films like Baazi, Jaal, Jewel Thief, Tere Ghar ke Samne et al.


Tale of love and virtue
Sarah Bakewell
by Carol Birch. Virago.
Pages 435. £14.99.

There has never been a dull time for slang in the English language. A time traveller going back 200 years might miss everything that’s gnarly and banging about our own world, but he could join a crowd of blowsabellas, bene-feakers, twiddle-poops and niffy-naffy fellows (slatterns, counterfeiters, sissies and time-wasters), order up a tiddly (drink), and, if so inclined, between sips he could admire the innkeeper’s Newgate knockers (curly, oiled moustaches).

Smart biz choices
D. S. Cheema

Wal-Smart: What it Really Takes to Profit in a Wal-Mart World
by William H. Marquard.
Tata McGraw-Hill. Pages 272. Rs 450.

Giants like Wal-Mart have changed the traditional rules of the economic game. There is no parallel of Wal-Mart as a business entity in the history of business. Founded by Sam Walton 37 years ago, it is perhaps the only MNC, having direct or indirect impact on the lives of such a large number of human beings around the globe.

Reigniting flagging confidence
Arifa Akbar
It is a story that could reignite the flagging confidence of the most dejected aspiring novelist. The frustrated efforts of Catherine O’Flynn, a former postwoman who tried and failed 15 times to get her work published, were finally rewarded last week when her first book was shortlisted for the £25,000 Costa Book Awards.

Racism subtle and crude
Anita Inder Singh
The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain
by Arun Kundnani
Pluto Press, London. £15.99

Is Britain becoming a more racist society? Currently immigration is taking place against a background of increasing racism. Arun Kundnani of the Institute of Race Relations in London argues that a new form of racism, directed against immigrants, especially from its former colonies, is emerging in Britain.

White truth
Gitanjali Sharma
by Sudha Murty. Penguin Books. Pages 154. Rs 150

The writer has had a purpose for writing this book. At the onset, she mentions she has devoted this book "to all those women in our country who suppress their emotions and suffer silently because of leukoderma." As you turn one page after the next, you realise that from each line of Mahashweta emanates the sincerity of her purpose.

Gandhi’s global impact
Mahatma Gandhi's images and examples of the use of his ideas in several countries outside India, including in conflict zones such as the West Bank, have been collected in a unique book. The book, edited and compiled by Vijay Rana, a former BBC journalist of Indian origin and the editor of, is a collection of images of Gandhi's statues, murals, graffiti, wall paintings and posters.

Hill street blues
It is Hillary Clinton’s lifelong discipline and self-control that comes across in both books, writes Leonard Doyle
Hillary Clinton: Her way
by Jeff Gerth & Don van Natta Jr.
John Murray. Pages 438. £20.

A Woman in Charge
by Carl Bernstein. Hutchinson.
Pages 628. £25

Before casting her vote backing the war in Iraq, Senator Hillary Clinton was invited to read a top-secret intelligence assessment about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. She never bothered, and went on to give George Bush the authorisation he was seeking to invade. Six senators who read the report voted against the invasion. 

Back of the book
Sovereignty, Power, Control: Politics in the States of Western India
by John McLeod. Decent Books. Pages 306. Rs 620

In Sovereignty, Power, Control, John McLeod uses the princely states of the Western India States Agency (now in Gujarat) as a case study to examine the triangular relationship among the Indian princes, the politicians of the states’ people’s movements, and the British. He argues that the princes were motivated by the desire to safeguard their sovereignty; the politicians by a quest for a share in power in the states; and the British by a policy of maintaining control.