Week after week, since we launched in February 2007, Lounge columnist Gouri Dange has helped you cope with the travails of parenthood. She has the expertise and natural knack for understanding human failings and insecurities. In her debut novel 3, Zakia Mansion, Dange uses that knack to write the story of Shaheen, who goes through life from one heartbreak to another and ultimately finds strength and contentment by coming to terms with the burden of her memories. Dange’s language is unpretentious and conversational. Don’t look for literary gymnastics; this 163-page novel is meant to be a breeze.
The works of Vinay Lal, a professor of History at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), are specialized in history of the Indian diaspora across the world. His new book, The Other Indians, encompasses his research work on the emergence of the Indian community in the US, with a focus on post-1965 communities. Some of the areas he tackles are: early students and rebels; the emergence of new South Asian communities and the politics and future of Indians in the US. Written in a language and style that suit both general readers and classroom reading, Lal also includes some photographs and a useful resource guide on the subject.
The colourful characters who populate No. 44 Scotland Street acquire more charm and mystery in this fourth book in a series set in this address, by Alexander McCall Smith, the Rhodesia-born, British best-selling author. Smith’s wit and canny sense of characterization is amply evident in The World According to Bertie, reminiscent of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (1998) and Tears of the Giraffe (2000). The title character, Bertie, is an Italian-speaking prodigy, who is smothered by his pushy mother. Residents of Edinburgh are likely to recognize many of the places mentioned in the book because Smith was inspired by Edinburgh’s New Town to write this series. This is classic Smith, and if you’re a fan, don’t miss it.
Pallavi Aiyar, the Mandarin-speaking China correspondent of The Hindu, writes about China through an Indian perspective in her book, Smokes and Mirrors. It is reportage, travelogue and memoir—the hybrid genre typical of most foreign correspondent writing. Aiyar’s focus is on the contradictions that China faces today with modernity, communism and capitalism fighting to claim their role in the country’s present and future. It’s also a book about India vis-à-vis China, and she revisits the obvious and already much-discussed failings and achievements of both countries.