Taken at the Flood—A Memoir of a Political Life: Vasanth Kannabiran

Review by Kamakshi Balasubramanian Originally published in The Book Review, Vol. XLIV, No. 8, August 2020. Reprinted with permission from The Book Review Literary Trust. Vasanth Kannabiran’s latest book, described in this edition’s back cover as "a feminist memoir", is a great deal more. There are at least three major narrative strands in the book: …

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War and Peace: Leo Tolstoy

Such a joy to have read Tolstoy's absolute, unparalleled, masterpiece now, without the spectre of deadlines and exams. This time around, I wonder what, if anything, I even got out of this work of extraordinary simplicity and power in my earlier readings, when I was a student of literature. Many critics and commentators have written …

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The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

Kamakshi Balasubramaniam Terse and lyrical, Galloway’s novel about the siege of Sarajevo shows with deep poignancy how war shortens lives but  expands to the point of unbearable pain each moment lived in anticipation of tragedy. A man’s life consists of fetching drinking water daily for his family and a neighbor. He must avoid becoming a …

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We Have Never Been Well-Read: Franco Moretti’s Pact with the Devil

This is a useful excerpt from the article you can access via the link below. New ground is better than common ground: not “I haven’t read that yet—let’s discuss something else” but rather “I may never read that, so tell me about it, it sounds interesting.” http://quarterlyconversation.com/we-have-never-been-well-read-franco-morettis-pact-with-the-devil Having now read Andrew Seal's (high-brow and apt to …

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Reading the greats (from Kamakshi)

At this time, I am in the process of gathering my thoughts to write about teaching Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel.  I have an ongoing blog, one section of which is dedicated to books and authors I taught in the IB (International Baccalaureate) program. http://englishaba.blogspot.in/2013/05/the-butler-did-it.html I am going to try and keep my posts brief here, …

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