Browsing: Books

All about books with a South Asian touch or by Indian or South Asian writers.

2 A Family Snapshot from Akhil Sharma

‘Family Life’, Akhil Sharma’s new novel, is devastating – about the unpredictability of life, of how 3 minutes can change it forever.

Yet it is also about the resilience of the human spirit and how we can keep raising the bar on the amount of grief and pain we are able to tolerate – all for love. And sometimes for guilt.

Deceptively small, ‘Family Life’ comes with a lot of turbulence packed into it – each page takes you into human lives which are raw and conflicted.

0 In Other Words: Jhumpa Lahiri Falls in Love – with Italian

Without language, there is emptiness, a void. Each of us has a unique memory of our earliest words, the numbers, nursery rhymes. In invoking those we get a word picture of our childhood, our deep joys, our irrational fears. The language that we speak gradually becomes a layering, a part of us, an extension of everything we do. ‘In Other Words’ is Jhumpa Lahiri’s first book in Italian.

0 Book People – Browsing the IAAC Lit Fest

What’s better than reading a book? Having the author read it to you! At the Indo-American Arts Council Literary Festival 2015 at Hunter College, book-lovers binged on new books, authors old and new and discussions on everything from the state of the kitchen to the state of the world.

0 Bombay Boys in New York: Salman Rushdie & Suketu Mehta

It’s been called a ‘jugalbandi’ – this evening dedicated to Bombay shared by the two writers – Salman Rushdie and Suketu Mehta. When the two were introduced to the audience by writer Amitava Kumar, he put it succinctly: ” Master story tellers – they are the djinns of stories!

0 Gita Mehta and Eternal Ganesha

When the writer Gita Mehta was growing up in Orissa, a small ancient image of Ganesha was unearthed in a mound of dirt as the foundations of their family home were being laid. “I’ve always kept the Ganesha which came out of my parents’ home,” confided Mehta when I interviewed her once in New York. “That is the one image that goes with me wherever I go. He came out of the Indian soil so to me he’s like an umbilical cord that connects me to India. So it doesn’t matter where I live – he is my India.” A lovely book from 2009, to check out this Ganesh Chathurthi.

1 Aasif Mandvi is No Land’s Man – It’s all Halal in the Family

Aasif Mandvi is the quintessential immigrant – he belongs nowhere and everywhere. He has knocked around three continents – Asia, America and Europe – and appropriated a bit from each of his hometowns – Dhule in Gujarat, Brampton in the UK and Tampa and New York in the US. Being brown, being different, being Muslim, he’s had a tough time and so many of us will identify with his story because in many ways it is our story too.

4 A Merry Christmas in the Kingdom of Books

Happy Holidays everyone! Nothing says Christmas quite like Patience and Fortitude, the two wonderful marble lions outside the New York Public Library, with their holiday wreaths! I always love taking a break from work and stopping by to pat them and sit by their side for a while. Having seen them and the holiday crowds swirling around – it really does seem like Christmas!

Well, here’s a Xmas gift for you from the literary lions – the NYPL’s Holiday Book List Generator!

0 Vikas Khanna’s Himalayan Journey

Vikas Khanna has scaled new gastronomic heights with his latest cookbook, ‘Return to the Rivers – Recipes and memories of the Himalayan River Valleys’, written with Andrew Blackmore-Dobbyn. This is a wonderful read not only for passionate cooks but also for those newbie chefs whose idea of cooking is heating up the remains of last night’s takeout. The stories will draw you into the kitchen…

9 Jhumpa Lahiri: The Next Rushdie?

Without a doubt, she’s a literary rock star.

Jhumpa Lahiri receives the kind of frenzied adulation reserved for celebrities. Her new novel ‘The Lowland’ has created a buzz in the US, with reviews carpeting every media from The New York Times to the most obscure little blog.

She was nominated for both the Man Booker and the National Award – and ‘The Lowland’ had hardly even hit the stores! Her book tour took her to several American cities and social media lit up with Jhumpa talk.

Few writers of Indian origin command this kind of fanfare – except perhaps Salman Rushdie. So is she the next big Indian writer after Rushdie, in terms of international standing?

5 The Writer-Healers

“Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passports, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”

– Susan Sontag.

This quotation begins Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography of cancer, ‘The Emperor of All Maladies.”

In this series we pay tribute to five physicians who preside over ‘the kingdom of the sick’ with not only their healing hands but their powerful words: Drs. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Atul Gawande, Abraham Verghese, Sanjay Gupta and Sandeep Jauhar.

2 Siddhartha Mukherjee: Battling the Emperor

There were no writers or physicians in Siddhartha Mukherjee’s family. He grew up in New Delhi where his father Sibeswar Mukherjee worked for Mitsubishi and his mother Chandana was a school teacher. His parents still live in Delhi.

“We spoke Bengali and English at home, our house was immersed in books,” he recalls. “I have a very intimate relationship with Bengali literature, particularly Tagore, and I would say my interest besides reading at that point of time in my life was music. And so, my memory of my household is of one immersed in books and music.”

0 Sandeep Jauhar – The Human Factor

Doctors are considered omniscient Gods but are actually very human, and no one conveys this truth better than Dr. Sandeep Jauhar. He is Director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, specializing in novel therapies for acutely decompensated heart failure.

It is hard to believe that this accomplished cardiologist once was a conflicted intern and probably no physician has been able to capture that coming of age story more evocatively than Jauhar in his remarkable first book, ‘Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation.’

0 Atul Gawande: A Checklist for Success

Dr. Atul Gawande, in today’s lingo, is one cool dude. After all, which other noted surgeon listens to Bruce Springsteen as he performs surgery in the operation theater? As the lanky iconic writer-physician told a room full of fans at the New York Public Library, he’s in surgery twelve to fourteen hours and music helps him and his team get through the day.

“For me music is an important tool for doing that,” he said. “Number one, if I pick the music really well, then the nurses and the anesthesiologists that I want are likely to pick me for my room and I get known a little bit for my playlists, and get certain people I want coming in the door if I pick the music well. You do five cases in a day, it’s a long day. It definitely keeps me going. It’s great!”

4 Abraham Verghese: The Healing Touchstone

The case of the invisible patient, the I-patient who exists just on the physician’s computer monitor as so much data, while the real live patient in the bed is ignored, has become an important issue for Verghese, both in work and his writing.

“I think that there’s a very special transaction that takes place between physician and the patient during the course of a careful examination,” he says. “It’s during that exam when the physician touches you and pulls your eyelid down and looks into your eyes and thumps on your chest – that’s when a very ritualistic bond is formed and if you shortchange that by just sitting behind your desk and saying ‘Let’s send you for this test, let’s send you for that test,’ you have essentially shortchanged yourself from an important transaction.”

2 Siddhartha Mukherjee: Chasing Cancer

‘The ‘Emperor of All Maladies’, subtitled A Biography of Cancer, won the Pulitzer Prize for Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. This week it won the 2011 PEN/E.O Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. An interview with this award-winning author about the writing of the book.

The challenge of ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’ was that in taking on such a formidable foe, Mukherjee had to create a complex tapestry which was by no means linear. It went all over the map, backwards, forwards, even sideways, zig-zagging between the impersonal and the very personal, between a clinical trial with 10,000 patients to the emotional tale of one particular patient. “The challenge was to take all that and make narrative out of it – it really is the most invisible thing in the book, it is the bones of the book,” says Siddhartha Mukherjee.

8 Books in the Age of Internet

As an immigrant writer from India, I well remember my first day in New York City.
Overwhelmed by the enormous skyscrapers, fast moving crowds and nonstop traffic on Fifth Avenue, I suddenly came across an ocean of calm, an iconic, strikingly beautiful Beaux-Arts building at a height, with cascading stairs below it.

At the foot, on either side were two life-size handsome marble lions. Patience and Fortitude.

8 Destiny or Choice?

When Sheena Iyengar went to Spain, people sometimes came up and asked her for a lottery ticket. “Because that is what blind people do in Spain,” she explains. “They sell lottery tickets. And when I was in Japan, random people would come up to me and take my hands and start putting them on their backs or on their necks because they expect blind people to perform magical massages.”

These people would have been stunned to learn that though Iyengar is blind, she is a noted researcher, a professor at Columbia and the author of a critically acclaimed book ‘The Art of Choosing’, in which she dissects and analyzes choice – the ability one has to take on destiny – or even competing brands of cola.

In life, how much can you choose and how much is pre-destined? Can you fight circumstances or is your role pre-ordained?And if you have the power of choice, how do you choose wisely?

3 Chitra Divakaruni’s One Amazing Thing

A gossamer web of stories ensnares the reader in ‘One Amazing Thing,’ Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s new novel, taking you into distant lands, hidden places in the heart and into the hidden strengths people have.

Nine very different people drawn by chance or luck or destiny into the same spot just as disaster strikes. They are all gathered for obtaining visas to India in the basement of the Indian consulate in an unnamed American city when a powerful earthquake strikes. ALSO LISTEN TO A LIVE INTERVIEW WITH CHITRA DIVAKARUNI

0 Atul Gawande’s Secret for Success

So powerful is Dr. Atul Gawande’s writing that Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s partner, sent him a $20,000 check without ever having met him, after reading ‘The Cost Conundrum’ his piece about healthcare in The New Yorker, the Huffington Post reports.

Gawande, being Gawande, did not accept the check personally but donated it to Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Surgery and Public Health for an international project.
Gawande’s passion and commitment comes through in his latest book.

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