OFf the shelf
The world of a writer
V. N. Datta
A Writerís People: Ways of Looking and Feeling by V. S. Naipaul. Picador.
Pages 192. £10.99.
WHEN we review a book it is natural to ask, "What is the authorís intention in writing his book, and what is the meaning and significance of his work. Is he saying something new, or saying what has been said or is he pouring the old wine in new bottle, of course, with changed labels." The author V. S. Naipaul, a Noble Laureate for Literature, makes it clear, "I wish only, and in a personal way, to set out the writing to which I was exposed during my career.


Books received

Spiritual odyssey
Harbans Singh
Limping to the Centre of the World
by Timeri N. Murari. Penguin Books. Pages 287. Rs 350.
PILGRIMAGES have to be difficult or else little merit will accrue to the pilgrim. However, a pilgrimage to the Mount Kailas, the abode of Lord Shiva, is doubly so not only because of cruel message that the mountains deliver to the arrogant that nature canít be mastered but also because of the new dimension that they add to the life of the pilgrim. Even those brought up as agnostics and those who have learned to be skeptics often come back calm, serene and acutely aware of being shorn of pretensions.

Road to safety
H. Kishie Singh
Your Childís Road Safety Handbook by Harman Singh Sidhu.
ArriveSafe, Chandigarh. Pages 98. Rs 185.
A good instruction book on traffic discipline, in which the subject matter is comprehensive and just about every aspect of road safety is covered. However, the instructions in the book are terse, and in large font which makes it easy to read and understand. To make it more interesting for children, the book has self-explanatory colourful illustrations.

Homecoming of a storytellerís son
Hugh Thomson
In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah. Doubleday.
Pages 424. £12.99.
THERE comes a time when even travel writers no longer feel like travelling; they return home, exhausted, to explore their roots. Tahir Shah, who has described his exotic adventures in Peru, India and Ethiopia, has reached that stage. His previous book, The Caliphís House, began the process, describing life in his home in Casablanca. But a recent experience in Pakistanís North West frontier accelerated it.

A noteworthy literary life
Alok Bhalla
Sant Singh Sekhon by Tejwant Singh Gill. Sahitya Akademi,
New Delhi. Pages 126. Rs 40.
ThIS year one can expect a number of seminars, lectures and theatrical performances in Punjab celebrating the birth centenary of one of the most versatile and innovative of the Punjabi writers of the 20th century. Tejwant Singh Gillís informative, scholarly and comprehensive monograph is the first to begin the process acknowledging Sant Singh Sekhonís literary achievement. The bookís modest aim is to provide an introduction to Sekhonís life and works.

City of undying memory
Shahira Naim
Shaam-e-Awadh:Writings on Lucknow
Ed. Veena Talwar Oldenburg. Penguin. Pages 273. Rs 395.
This unique collection of writings strings together gems written in diverse formats belonging to different periods in a matchless manner to produce a marvel that captures the very soul of the city. The pages present a myriad images and metaphors of "the city of undying memory" as the editor aptly describes Lucknow.

On the road to better governance
V. Eshwar Anand
Splendour in the Grass: Innovations in Administration
Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances. Penguin. Pages 305. Rs 495.
In the past four years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken several measures to streamline the administrative system. He has motivated officers of the all-India services to contribute their best and make a significant impact on peopleís quality of life. Last year, he had instituted the Prime Ministerís Award for Excellence in Public Administration to develop a competitive spirit among the officers and improve governance with new techniques and strategies.

Indians best in buying books: Jeffrey Archer
verwhelmed by the response that he got in India, best-selling British author Jeffrey Archer said the people of the country bought books like in no other nation. "Indians buy books like no other nation," Archer, who is on a six-city tour of India, said at the launch of his new work of fiction ó A Prisoner of Birth, in Gurgaon last week.