Philosophy as politics of the real
Reviewed by Shelly Walia
The New French Philosophy
By Ian James
Cambridge: Polity Press. Pages 221. £16.99
Ian James, a major theorist who teaches French at Cambridge, in his book The New French Philosophy, emphasises the relevance of recent French theory in transforming society, and in accounting for the experience of a world in collision. In recent years, formalism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis and deconstruction failed in provoking dissidence and political radicalism, motives which were significant with the so-called demise of Marxism.

Crusader on the move
Reviewed by Kanwalpreet
Didi, A Political Biography
By Monobina Gupta. Harper Collins. Pages 216. Rs 299
Mamata Banerjee, "Didi", as she is lovingly called by one and all, is a complex subject to write on. Working consistently, she has risen from being a grassroots party worker to become, at present, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, a state which was the bastion of the Communist Party of India Marxist, (CPM), since 1977. Monobina Gupta chose Didi as her subject to look into the personality who has managed to oust the CPM from power with her relatively new political party, the Trinamool Congress. It is a strange journey of a lady who does not boast of any mentor and claims to live for "Maa, maati, manush". Such politicians are the need of the hour, yet Monobina Gupta tells us all with a pinch of salt.

Varied shades of life
Reviewed by Aditi Garg
Difficult Pleasures
By Anjum Hasan. Penguin Books. Pages 250. Rs 399
Happiness and despair, surprises and the mundane, tears and laughter; all form an inseparable part of everyday life. There is no such life as an ordinary life, there are only stories waiting to be told. Even the most staid faces hide troubling secrets and untold joy. Expect the unexpected to be discovered in the most unlikely places. These human stories bring to fore the many faces people wear to make life worth living. From small children to the young and the aged, all leave behind a rainbow of tales spanning every known human emotion.

Power of nonviolence
Reviewed by Balwinder Kaur
After Gandhi: Brave Torchbearers of Nonviolent Resistance
By Anne Sibley O’Brien and Perry Edmond O’Brien
Hachette India. Pages 198. Rs 350.
On May 2, 2012, the world watched Aung San Suu Kyi take oath to become a member of Parliament and the Leader of the Opposition. After two decades as a political prisoner, she is finally in a position to actively participate in the governance of her beloved Myanmar. This event, along with many other such victories big and small; have proven that Gandhian values remain supremely relevant and effective even in this day and age. After Gandhi: Brave Torchbearers of Nonviolent Resistance by Anne Sibley O’Brien and Perry Edmond O’Brien chronicles a hundred years of nonviolent resistance after Mahatma Gandhi.

Actor of substance
Nonika Singh
on’t let her frail looks befool you. Gifted actor Shernaz Patel is every inch a woman of steel. This no-nonsense actor who loves to "provoke people" may be a shy person in real life but on stage she is transformed into an uninhibited being who slips into her parts with no holds barred. Yet, quiz her on some of the unprintable words that she dares to mouth, as demanded by the wide variety of characters that she essays, and she shoots back, "If some of my roles make the audiences squirm… so be it. I offer no apology for that means they are missing the point that the play is making."

Revisiting ancient India
Reviewed by Kanchan Mehta
Prophets, Poets, & Philosopher-Kings: Sketches on India’s Spiritual & Literary Heritage.
By Abhijit Basu, Celestial Books. Pages 181. Rs 145
The treasure trove of India’s spiritual and literary heritage, bursting with endless perspectives is worth revisiting time and again. Likewise, the present book, a collection of retrospective, critical, scholarly and absorbing essays, centred around ancient Indian poets, prophets and philosopher-kings, provides revealing insights into ancient India.

The Ps and Qs of parenting
o your homework, eat whatever is on the table and don’t ever try to be naughty. Parenting has moved beyond the reprimands and stern etiquette codes to become an art of mindfulness, analysis and complex psychological healing. The mantra in the new nuclear home is freedom and sensitivity; it spares the rod and allows the child to discover its own identity through the roller-coaster of life, said New York-based clinical psychologist and writer Shefali Tsabary, who works with families to promote mindful living and conscious parenting across the world. "Conscious parenting puts the onus of the child’s development on the parents - and is challenging. Parents have to know more to influence their children in this world of Internet," said Tsabary. Tsabary in her new book, The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, (released in Indian stores recently), tries to move the epicentre of the parent-child relationship away from the parent-to-child "know-it-all" approach to one of mutual growth.

A tale of survival in a North Korean jail
Madhusree Chatterjee
wentysix-year-old Shin Dong-hyuk may not be as famous as Dith Pran, the Cambodian labour camp survivor in the 1984 screen drama, The Killing Fields, but his true survival story as a condemned political prisoner in North Korea who escaped is as powerful as it is unbelievable. Shin, who was born in one of the six sprawling Gulag-style, no-exit political prisons located 55 miles (88 km) north of Pyongyang, is the new North Korean labour camp hero in award-winning writer and veteran journalist Blaine Harden’s latest bestseller, Escape from Camp 14.

short takes
Of poetry and mystery
Reviewed by Randeep Wadehra
Everything begins elsewhere 
By Tishani Doshi
Harper Collins -India Today. 
Pages 87. Rs. 299
Love, longings and memories can be articulated in a number of ways ranging from crass and clichéd to subtle and sublime. In this anthology, words morph into vivid images that flit across our mindscape and leave behind a stunning effect ever so subtly. The poem, Ode to Drowning, is a beautiful interpretation of a lovelorn’s longings. Tishani Doshi builds up the atmospherics by quoting the Tamil devotional poet Nammalvar. Thence begins a picturesque portrayal of the many-hued love wherein "blue-skinned gods/with magical flutes/seduce the virgins to dance" because "there can be no love without music/No rain without peacocks/ perched in branches". The poet continues, "It’s that old idea of drowning/in another to find the self". The ‘drowning’ motif persists in her next poem, Lesson 1: Building a Bridge between the Past and the Future, "‘Come through the gates of drowning’/the teacher says/so we cross with lotus rafts/and abandon them at the water’s edge/where love’s refrain is whispering: The world begins and then it ends. Begins and ends again".

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