Visionary educationist
Reviewed by Raghuvendra Tanwar
Understanding Politics and Society: 1910-1997
By Hardwari Lal. Edited by Prem Chowdhary. Manak Publications. Pages 423. Rs 700.
HARDWARI LAL was a man whose presence could never be ignored; he lived an eventful life rarely sparing the chance of calling a spade a spade, taking on Chief Ministers and Judges alike. Defiance was virtually in his genes. In the foreword to this interesting compilation of some of Hardwari Lal’s essays contributed mainly to leading newspapers, Khushwant Singh notes: "Hardwari Lal was a true son of the soil an icon of defiance ... all said and done he was a Jat, violence and litigation were in his blood." Litigation, yes; but violence, no — he was a man of words and never of violent actions.

Classic retold
Reviewed by Uma Vasudeva
Playground: Rangbhoomi
By Premchand. Trans. Manju Jain. Penguin Books. Pages 641. Rs 550.
THE title itself means, "The arena of life" — which is so apt to the entire book. It is life playing itself in its arena and in many shapes, forms and emotions. The novel is a resounding proclamation of a resolve that the battle of freedom from the British Empire will continue notwithstanding the absence of prominent leaders, including Gandhi. As Soordas soliloquises on his deathbed, they will continue to fight with renewed strength and unity and will recoup their forces even though they are defeated.

Books received: english

Wry take on office infidelity
Reviewed by Viv Groskop
The Forgotten Waltz
By Anne Enright. Jonathan Cape. Pages 240. £ 16.99.
IT has become fashionable lately to complain of "fiction fatigue". David Shields’ book Reality Hunger argued that we’ve all had enough of novels. His bone of contention? Their plots and tricks are fake and phoney and can’t tell us anything about real life. "Conventional fiction teaches the reader that life is a coherent, fathomable whole," writes Shields, when really, life "flies at us in bright splinters".

Painful division
Reviewed by Ashok Kumar Yadav
The Partition of India
By Ian Talbot and Gurharpal Singh. Cambridge University Press. Pages 206. Rs 695.
THIS book tends to peep into the annals of history and politics of the Asian sub-continent. As the title of the book suggests, it deals with the pulsating events leading to the segregation of two great communities and the resultant bifurcation of Bharat known the world over for its cultural affluence and rich heritage. It tends to drive that Partition was the most traumatic event of the century, while Independence was the most significant turning point in Indian history.

Shells and pebbles
Reviewed by Shalini Rawat
First Proof 6: The Penguin Book of New Writing
Penguin Books. Pages 217. Rs 250.
THE enchanting world of words throws new surprises both for the reader as well as the writer at every corner. The sculptor of words looks deep within the dark recesses of his mind, for therein lie memories. He forages through them, waiting and examining the ones which reflect more vividly on their surface the passage of time. Like the strangely shaped shell on the shore, a lustrous pine cone on a secluded path or a shiny pebble on a stream bed, one of these suddenly catches his fancy.

talking of the times
The lighter side...
The humorous side of Pakistan's troubles comes forth in Tender Hooks
Shilpa Jamkhandikar
HEN Pakistani author Moni Mohsin was struck with a familiar case of writer's block, she turned to humour to cure it. Rather than writing a serious novel about what ails Pakistan, she told the story of a nation in turmoil through the eyes of Butterfly Khan, a socialite whose social life suffers because of fundamentalists and terror threats. Tender Hooks is her third novel, based on characters that were part of a column she used to write for a Pakistani newspaper, The Friday Times. Mohsin speaks about her book and why she chose humour as a means to tell Pakistan's story.

Epic moment
British author tackles five-book epic that covers a century, 20 years at a time
Mike Collett-White
T 71, bestselling British author Jeffrey Archer is tackling his biggest project to date — a five-novel saga called The Clifton Chronicles that sweeps through the 20th century and into the 21st. The first instalment, Only Time Will Tell, has just been published, and follows Harry Clifton, whose angelic voice is his ticket into a good education and out of grinding poverty. He befriends Giles Barrington, born into a wealthy family, and falls in love with his sister Emma, but a tragic twist of fate threatens his happiness and the story ends with World War II looming over the lives of the entire cast.

Mastermind of the 9/11 attack, Osama bin Laden, spawned a vast booty of books
...and the darker
Osama: The Making of a Terrorist
by Jonathan Randal
this book by a former Washington Post correspondent chronicles Osama's combat experiences as an anti-Soviet jehadi, his growing radicalisation and the role that various mentors and surrogate fathers played in his evolution.

Books received: english