WHEN two young men start questioning life or death where does it lead them? Will and Hand are two young typical Americans, pretty much involved in their routine lives. Suddenly life goes for a spin when they lose their best friend in a meaningless accident. As the two try and make sense of this unhappy event and come to terms with their grief, they find no solace. So they decide to embark upon a tour of the world, within a week and try and offload a huge amount of cash. With this gesture they hope to be able to alleviate and find an answer to their grief. But from the word go both find that there are no perfect answers or complete solutions to the subtler issues. In almost indirect references both Americans reconfirm the fact that many of the young in that country know so little of the world or its history outside of America. There are situations in their hectic whirlwind travel that would make one blush at their ignorance. The author has captured a very personal story at different levels where grief, pathos, ignorance and sometimes introspection are wonderfully juxtaposed against each other.
You Shall Know Our Velocity, Dave Eggers, Penguin, Rs. 395.
IN an era when it's all right to come out, one would expect some sensitive fiction on homosexuality. Unfortunately, the issue still being in its nascent stage in this country, whatever little has been written for a general audience, remains typified. Any great story has to touch some chord somewhere and all stories that connect have a universal theme. Unfortunately, for this book, it fails on both counts. An uninspiring storyline, some tardy writing and absolutely no sensitivity makes it a mushy read. The only redeeming feature in this mess is the presence of a gutsy woman who is ready to experiment with life at different levels and brings a touch of brutal honesty to an otherwise mediocre story. If the author intended to draw attention to the painful life that many gay men lead, often bowing to family pressure to get married and try to lead "normal lives", he's just about missed the point. But yes, it does take you on a guided tour of the gay subculture that exists in Mumbai.
The Boyfriend, P. Raj Rao, Penguin, Rs. 250.
THIS book is definitely not for the cordon bleu chef. What marks its presence is its simplicity in presentation and the incredible accessibility of the ingredients used in the everyday recipes that are made in most Indian homes on a day-to-day basis. Here is a book that also to some extent demystifies the intricacies of cooking regular Indian food for those who are not familiar with many of the nuances involved. So even as it introduces you to the benefits of palak paneer or tandoori chicken, it also tells you how and where to source your materials and gives out some of the simplest methods in cooking them up. Even for those who cook regularly, the book has some interesting dishes which can be rustled up in a jiffy.
Indian Everyday, Anjum Anand, Headline, price not stated.
WAS Moses one man or two different people? Was he the single most influential figure to lead and found the great monotheistic religions of the world? Did he reveal the divine plan at Mount Sinai? Graham Phillips has used some interesting allegories, with painstaking research into these questions and has fielded a whole new angle to the advent of Moses. This is a historical work of monumental research but often employs a detective's technique to question some of the standard and accepted theories on Moses. Phillips argues that Moses was not one man but two, who lived at different times one a Hebrew priest called Kamose who first discovered God and inspired the Israelites with a new religion, and the other the Egyptian prince Tuthmose. He also contends that the most holy place was not Mt. Sinai but another ancient religious site in the kingdom of Edom. This is a well-written account and for those interested in the history of religion, a definite read.
The Moses Legacy, Graham Phillips, Pan, £7.99.
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