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Archive for the ‘south asian author challenge’ Category

I did it. I read my ten books:

  • Age of Shiva by Manil Suri (read 02/2010)
  • Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta (read 03/2010)
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (read 08/2010)
  • The Immortals by Amit Chaudhuri (read 11/2010)
  • Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet by Kashmira Sheth (read 11/2010)
  • Half a Life by V.S. Naipaul (read 11/2010)
  • Magic Seeds by V.S. Naipaul (read 12/2010)
  • Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie (read 12/2010)
  • Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins (read 12/2010)
  • Delhi Noir edited by Hirsh Sawhney (read 12/2010)

While I did read the number of books I said I would, and certainly didn’t lack for possible titles to choose from, I don’t think I’m going to do this challenge again in 2011. I did have fun with it, but it turns out I really prefer to read books as the mood strikes me, and not feel like I “have” to read something that meets certain criteria in order to “succeed.” That’s just too much like school for my taste. But I think it’s great that there are so many different kinds of reading challenges out there, and I’m terribly impressed by the people who organize them and the people who take part in them. So well done Swapna, and thanks for letting me play along in 2010. I hope your challenge sticks around for a long time!

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I really enjoyed this book, and it has only fueled my desire to go to India. Which is strange, really, since a goodly portion of this books concerns gangsters, dancing girls, and the Shiv Sena; none of these are particularly tourist-friendly–well, the dancing girls might be, if you’re a male tourist.

My favorite part was the Bollywood section, of course. It was fascinating to read about how a film gets made: how the script develops, how casting is determined, how financing is secured, how the shooting proceeds, and how all of these things can change on very short notice. It was even more interesting because I’d actually seen the film in question (“Mission Kashmir”). I knew a little bit about Sanjay Dutt and his legal troubles, but not to the extent that they were explored here; a lot of the Hrithik Roshan information I already knew because I have read this charmingly silly and rather gossipy book (it also had a description of Preity Zinta and the gangsters, which I need to go back and look at again).

I feel a little bit like I’ve done the Suketu/Vikram trifecta, since I’ve now read Maximum City, seen “Mission Kashmir,” and read Sacred Games (which I should write a *real* review for). It was very interesting to see where they all overlapped and where they diverged. I should point out that I have also read and loved Vikram Chandra’s other two books, that I have seen other Vidhu Vinod Chopra films, and that I’ve read some of Anupama Chopra’s books and articles too, so I’m not a total n00b.

But what I really identified with is the adolescent Suketu’s move from then-Bombay to New York, and his struggle, upon returning years later to Mumbai, to find his lost childhood. You can’t go back, no matter how much as you might want to. All you can do is hope that things haven’t changed so much that you’re hopelessly lost while also harboring a nagging suspicion that you *ought* to know this place and just…don’t. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it, but read this book to get an inkling. (We won’t even dwell on the agonies of what it’s like to move to an entirely different country where you don’t speak the language and generally stick out like a sort thumb, but needless to say, he nails that too.)

It’s big, it’s sprawling, it covers both the sacred and the profane–it’s just like Mumbai, in other words. And I want to go there some day.

Suketu Mehta’s site

Source: borrowed from library

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This is just where I’m keeping track of the books I have read/plan to read for the challenge, but of course I may change my mind and read other things! I either own them or have them on my library request list. In no particular order:

Fiction:

  • Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan
  • Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
  • Trespassing by Uzma Aslam Khan
  • In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
  • Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah
  • The Wish Maker by Ali Sethi

Non Fiction:

  • Untouchables: My Family’s Triumphant Journey out of the Caste System in Modern India by Narendra Jadhav
  • Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents by Minal Hajratwala

Books read:

  • Age of Shiva by Manil Suri (read 02/2010)
  • Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta (read 03/2010)
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (read 08/2010)
  • The Immortals by Amit Chaudhuri (read 11/2010)
  • Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet by Kashmira Sheth (read 11/2010)
  • Half a Life by V.S. Naipaul (read 11/2010)
  • Magic Seeds by V.S. Naipaul (read 12/2010)
  • Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie (read 12/2010)
  • Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins (read 12/2010)
  • Delhi Noir edited by Hirsh Sawhney (read 12/2010)

Rereads, which I’m not counting in my totals, but for completeness’ sake:

  • The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri (read 02/2010)

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I’m excited about this for two reasons: One, I love this literature. Two, it’s my first challenge!

I’m planning on reading (at least) 10 books. My goal will be to read new books/authors, and to read books that have been living unread on my shelves, rather than rereading books I already love; if I do reread anything, I won’t count it.

When: January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010
What: Books by South Asian authors (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka)

More information here and here

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