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Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Book review: The Last Courtesan by Manish Gaekwad

This woman`s life It cannot be the easiest of things, to write your mother`s memoir. All the more when your mother happened to be India`s last tawaif or courtesan. Manish Gaekwad, though,  has turned a steady gaze on his mother`s colourful life and written up the account with unflinching honesty. Ultimately, what comes through is…

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Books: Best Indian Fiction of 2022

Best Indian Fiction  of 2022  Even as we were emerging from the pandemic, blinking in the bright light, my reading through the year continued to be both substantial and satisfying. This is a listicle of Indian fiction of 2022 that fulfilled my one-point criterion: it touched a chord with me. Valli.  Written by Sheela Tomy,…

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Opinion: No catchers in the rye anymore

No catchers in the rye anymore Just the other day, a line in a news report caught my eye. The article was an update on the death, five years ago, of a courageous activist who had been dear to us here in Bangalore. The case was proceeding at a pace that would put most common…

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Book review: The Odd Book of Baby Names by Anees Salim

A bleak kind of hope Anees Salim`s new book is laced with equal amounts of melancholia and quirk, with the former gaining a slight edge over the latter, which will not surprise the writer`s fans one bit. The plot hinges on a slender story, that of an erstwhile ruler lying in a comatose state in…

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Opinion: Is Age Just a Number? Well, Yes and No.

Is age just a number? Well, yes and no There`s age-shaming of women on Big Boss, there`s age-shaming in the workplace, there`s age- shaming on the runway, there`s age- shaming on the streets. And given that a report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation titled `Elderly in India 2021` has put the ageing…

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Feature: Best Fiction of 2021

LISTICLE: BEST OF 2021 FICTION The year had its fair share of good, even very good fiction, with historical fiction gaining a slight edge over the others. These are the books that made an impression on my twin avatars of reviewer and reader. The Heart Asks Pleasure First. Karuna Ezara Parikh, in her remarkable debut…

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Humour: The Song That Reduces Anxiety

                                  Weightless worries during Covid times In which soothing music increased, not decreased, worry My sleepless nights are getting to be a matter of concern for my kith and kin. I`m a certified worrywart and the Virus-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named has worsened my…

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Book Review: Dara Shukoh, The Man Who Would Be King by Avik Chanda

A mystic’s misfortune Dara Shukoh’s vision for a just, tolerant, secular and humane India seems today as unrealised as his dream of becoming the king.  A contemplative ‘what if’ nebula hangs over Avik Chanda’s gripping book on Dara Shukoh. Dara was Emperor Shah Jahan’s eldest, most favoured son and heir apparent. He, however, does not…

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Book review: A Secret History of Compassion by Paul Zacharia

  Sending up everything and everyone A scathing look at life. The reader`s first reaction on reading A Secret History of Compassion is to muse over the probability that Paul Zacharia wrote up the story,  then dipped it into a vat of caustic soda. Everything is grist for his mill, or rather pen, here: writers,…

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Travel: Thotlakonda, Andhra Pradesh

    History on a hill Thotlakonda in Andhra Pradesh is today a hazy hark-back to its glorious Buddhist traditions   It’s a hot day, a very hot day in fact. The sun glares down mercilessly and I`m glad of the foresight to have carried a hat. There is a strong breeze blowing, though, carrying…

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