New Delhi, Jan 7 The year begins with hard-hitting tales of politics, terror and mind-numbing Punjabi short stories on partition. Here are five books that stimulate the mind:
1. Book: "Invitation"; Written by Shehryar Fazli; Published by Westland Ltd; Rs.495
Set in the 1970s Pakistan, it is the story of politics, power brokers, high society, fast life, the night life of Karachi and the men who enjoy the perks that wealth brings.
At the root of the story is Shahbaz, a young Pakistani who returns home to Karachi after 19 years in exile to find a society preparing for democracy. The city seethes with tension, corruption and changing power equation between the dominant establishment of west Pakistan and the Bengalis of east Pakistan. Shahbaz's family connections ensure him a place in the high society of Karachi and he is soon sucked into the glitter and tumble of Pakistan.
This is a story of Shabaz's journey into the turbulent politics of his homeland - and of his redemption.
2. Book: "The Siege of Warwan"; Written by Maj Gen. (retd) G.D. Bakshi; Published by Harper Collins-India; Rs.299
The book is an action-packed thriller set in the snowbound valley of Warwan in Kashmir. Warwan has become a coveted base for jehadi militants because of its strategic location along the border. Its inhabitants have been brutalised by aggression for years. The lone outpost of the Indian Army, led by a young, idealist and brave Maj Dushyant (Dusty) Bharadwaj, is fighting this wave of terrorist incursion.
In the course of his crusade, Dusty meets Ayesha, a doctor with a troubled past. While Dusty fights the terror cells, Ayeshya battles her own demons of longing and pain for one who left her to join the jehadis. Their paths cross when Dusty rescues Ayesha from a demonic terrorist Kari Hanzala in a Bollywood type rescue mission.
3. Book: "Blue Blood"; Written by Uttara Chauhan; Published by Penguin India; Rs.250
This is a collection of short stories that peels back layers of history to reveal the myths and stories of tribulations of the erstwhile royalty of India, grappling with the banalities of life.
The title story narrated by an elderly tour guide narrates the story of Anne Beckford, a European woman who married an Indian Maharaja for love.
In the story "The Birthday", a disinherited gay prince returns to his ancestral home for the centennial celebrations of his great-grandfather, a war hero. With nuanced characters and intricate plots, the eight tales capture the personal triumphs and tragedies of the former royalty.
4. Book: "Stories of the Soil (classic Punjabi short stories)"; Edited and translated by Nirupama Dutt; Published by Penguin-Books India; Rs.350
It is a collection of over 40 classic Punjabi short stories combining the rich oral tradition of "kissas" from Western literature. They are haunting tales about partition like in a "Matter of Faith" by Gulzar Singh Sandhu where a tragedy is viewed through the eyes of a child.
5. Book: "Nanovation: How a Little Car Can Teach the World to Think Big"; Written by Kevin & Jackie Frieberg and Dain Dunston; Published by Penguin Books-India; Rs.450
The writers take readers to behind-the-scene struggle of the Tata Group to get the little car Nano, the biggest innovation in the auto industry in the recent decades, rolling.
The book is much more than the creation of safe affordable transportation. It is a story about a diverse and far-reaching movement about how we are changing our ideas about design and products. It explores the making of the car and how it encouraged the employees of the Tata Group to mount adversities and risks.