We are Displaced—My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World: Malala Yousafzai (with Liz Welch)

Review by Mohan Raj A longer version of this review was originally published in The Book Review, Vol XLIV, No. 2-3, Feb-Mar 2020.  Reproduced with the permission of The Book Review Literary Trust. Displacement──within and across countries──of large numbers of people, owing to political instability or civil strife, is a fact of contemporary life. UN statistics …

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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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Alexander Hamilton: Ron Chernow

“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known / When I was young and dreamed of glory / You have no control: / Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” These lines are from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton, which was inspired by this biography. The quote seems appropriate. Although Alexander Hamilton was one …

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Maya Angelou

“The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.” Three strong black women stand out in this first volume of Maya Angelou’s …

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My Name is Gauhar Jaan! The Life and Times of a Musician: Vikram Sampath

Review by Sadhana Ramchander I have been fascinated by Gauhar Jaan's life ever since I came to know about her. I bought this hard-bound book in the bookshop A A Hussian some years ago but it sat on my shelves for a long time. I finally read it, and am so glad I did because …

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A Book of Silence: Sara Maitland

“It is quite hard to remember which came first—the freedom of solitude or the energy of silence. … I became less driven, more reflective and great deal less frenetic. And into that space flowed silence: I would go out into the garden at night or in the early morning and just look and listen… . …

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32 Yolks: From my Mother’s Table to Working the Line: Eric Ripert

With Veronica Chambers “Only if you cook what you love and truly understand will people be happy with your food.” Good food—how it can sustain you, both physically and emotionally—is the centre of these memoirs. Eric Ripert, a well-known chef, writes about growing up in France and Andorra, and his early years in the kitchens …

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A Broken Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen’s Secret Chord—Liel Leibovitz

“Lots of writers have dared walk up to the edge of reason and stare into that great chasm, into the abyss. Very few people have got there and laughed out loud at what they saw. It’s the divine comedy.” —Bono, on Leonard Cohen You either love or hate Leonard Cohen’s music. I bought Songs of …

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The Lights of Pointe-Noire: Alain Mabanckou

Translated from French by Helen Stevenson Alain Mabanckou left Congo in 1989, when he was 22, and didn’t go back for 23 years, not even when his mother died. Refusing to accept her death, he keeps up the myth that she is alive and well. “The truth was I dreaded coming face to face with …

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Abburi Chayadevi (1933-2019): A writer who never stopped asking questions

Review by Sadhana Ramchander In 2016, when Anuradha Gunupati and I met 83-year old Abburi Chayadevi to tell her about our plans to publish a book on her writing and craft, she asked, “Why do we need this book? I am already suffering from fame.” I was delighted to find that she still asked questions! …

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