Reliving the nightmare of brutality

Reviewed by Rumina Sethi

Dreaming  of Baghdad.
By Haifa Zangana. 
Trans. by the author with Paul
Hammond. Women 
Unlimited,  New Delhi. 
Pages 169. Rs 375.

OO often, literary studies have advanced themselves as part of higher learning while remaining deaf to the roaring turmoil of global resistance to domination and exploitation. That struggle must continue, and if writers are to align themselves with it, they must begin by returning to the place where the people dwell. Haifa Zangana’s Dreaming of Baghdad belongs to that literary genre of political activism that refuses to allow the personal to remain separate from the political. This is a memory narrative about the times before the first and the second Gulf wars. Iraq had metamorphosed from a safe haven where women had walked free to a derelict environment where they faced every kind of discrimination and abuse. Zangana’s Iraq (before the occupation) is one in which one could speak of liberalism and secularism; the other Iraq that imprisons her, in contrast, is a dangerous place to be born in.

From suppression to empowerment
Reviewed by Aradhika Sharma
Bonsai  Kitten.
Lakshmi Narayan. Leadstart 
Publishing  Pvt Ltd. 
Pages 291. Rs 195

, wives and compromises; Dominance and submission; approval sought and given or withheld; lives wasted with the wrong partner but lived anyhow with or without joy: That’s marriage! And that’s the relationship Laxmi Narayan explores through her book Bonsai Kitten. The name is quirky but it describes Divya’s (the protagonist’s) situation. The dark, delicate girl is chosen by and married to a man at a young age so that he may mould her to his liking. Divya is given into the custody of an insensitive, selfish person who denigrates instead of empowers; a man who destroys confidence instead of building it up.

Tales of the mundane and the macabre
Reviewed by Balwinder Kaur
Lost Libido and Other Gulp Fiction
By Salil Desai. Fingerprint! Publishing. Pages 288. Rs 195.
HE everyday lives of normal people comprise of a series of rather repetitive and mundane tasks but every once in a while there is an event. This event even in a life utterly average can yield a story worth telling. A brief moment of heightened emotion and astonishing circumstance. One extraordinary day, out of multiples of 365. Be it orchestrated or accidental, fuelled by motivations genial or criminal, caused by actions unwitting or deliberate, these events (both surprising and planned) occur. The predicaments range from the familiar to the shocking. And make up the most extraordinary days of otherwise ordinary people living in urban India.

Man who could have been President
Reviewed by Parbina Rashid
A Life in  Politics: Selected Speeches and Lectures, 1979-2004
By PA Sangma. Harper Collins. Pages 489. Rs 799

T was the smiling face and the name of the author on the cover page that made me pick this up from the heap. After all, it is the name that finds a mention whenever one talks of achievers from the region that I come from.

Want to read a politician like a book?
Reviewed by Abhishek Joshi
Machiavelli for Moral People. By Pavan Choudary. 
Wisdom Village Publications. Pages 145. Rs 125

HEN Jesus warns his followers in the Bible that they should go into the world like doves but should beware of the serpent, He means that the clear-spirit of the dove cannot succeed till it understands the serpent's evil mind and evil designs.

Serious, informative and fun
How to Climb Mont Blanc  in a Skirt,
By Mick Conefrey. Oneworld £8.99

HE male dominance of his earlier work, The Adventurer's Handbook, made Conefrey realise that he needed to redress the balance and consider the many – largely forgotten – female explorers who have traversed deserts, seas and continents.