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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Indian women tell their stories

The Inner Courtyard: Stories by Indian Women, edited by Lakshmi HolmströmIn Other Words: New Writing by Indian Women, selected by Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon “Women in India have traditionally been teller of tales. They have used not only the mythic materials of the epics in their local versions, but the lives of gods and …

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10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World: Elif Shafak

Tequila Leila, the prostitute, is dead. She has been murdered and her body dumped in a wheelie bin in Istanbul. She realizes “with a sinking feeling that her heart had just stopped beating, and her breathing had abruptly ceased, and whichever way she looked at her situation there was no denying that she was dead.” …

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Natural-Born Heroes—The Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance: Christopher McDougall

On 23 April 1944, a group of British operatives in Crete captured the German General, Heinrich Kreipe, from under the noses of 100,000 German troops, search planes prowling the mountains, and patrol boats checking the shore. Without a shot being fired, the General—a survivor of the Great War who was awarded an Iron Cross—had disappeared. …

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The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo: Germano Almeida

Translated from Portuguese by Sylvia Glaser “The reading of the last will and testament of Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo ate up a whole afternoon. When he reached the one-hundred-and-fiftieth page, the notary admitted he was already tired…[H]e complained that the deceased, thinking he was drafting his will, had instead written down his memoirs.” Which …

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Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line: Deepa Anappara

When children start to go missing from a basti (slum) near Mumbai, three nine-year-olds from the basti decide to investigate. Jai watches crime shows on TV and fancies himself as Sherlock Holmes or Byomkesh Bakshi, a fictional Bengali detective. Pari is a bright girl, and although Jai designates her as his assistant, she tends to …

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A Beginner’s Guide to Japan: Pico Iyer

Review by B.V. Tejah Some travel books are well-suited for pandemic lockdowns. We find ourselves locked inside, while our minds can soar to distant places. These books make us ponder over the nature of faraway cultures; they would be a useless tourist guide and would not include maps. Pico Iyer’s wonderful, odd little book (240 …

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Men without Women: Haruki Murakami

Translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goosen “Here's what hurts the most," Kafuku said. "I didn't truly understand her—or at least some crucial part of her. And it may well end that way now that she's dead and gone. Like a small, locked safe lying at the bottom of the ocean. It hurts …

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