Ode to madness
The themes in American novelist Alice Sebold’s new book, The Almost Moon, are similar to those in her acclaimed best-seller The Lovely Bones (2002)—dysfunctional family life and human violence. The novel begins on a stark note, with Helen, the protagonist, gagging her mother to death. What follows is an exploration of the relationship between the daughter and the dead mother and of the hell of clinical madness. With this raw and powerful story, Sebold goes deeper into the subjects that she’s adept at, although leading critics in the US still places The Lovely Bones above The Almost Moon.
Veteran research scholar, librarian and book critic Girja Kumar looks scathingly at Mahatma Gandhi’s relationship with the many women he was surrounded by in Brahmacharya Gandhi & his Women Associates. Although tedious in parts, it’s a well-researched book, with interviews from associates of the women he features—Nilla Cram Cook, a 20-something New Yorker who was enamoured by Gandhi and turned half ascetic after she came to live at the Sabarmati Ashram; Saraladevi Chowdharani, Gandhi’s “spiritual wife” and Rabindranath Tagore’s niece; Jayaprakash Narayan’s wife Prabhabati and of course, Kasturba Gandhi. It was tough to be a woman associate of Gandhi—being celibate being one of them—and Kumar, while documenting the various relationships, reprises that.
In the art world
Actor David Thewlis is known for his role of Professor Lupin in the Harry Potter films (he has also acted in Mike Leigh’s Naked, the Cohen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski and in a brilliant, lesser known performance as Kinsky, a reclusive pianist absorbed in his private musical reveries in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Besieged). He’s also a painter—a part of his personality that drives his debut novel, The Late Hector Kipling. It’s about a disillusioned, wasted painter, “a northern bloke”, who hits jackpot when one of his paintings sell for a phenomenal price and the superficial, often murky world of art takes over him. A telling portrait of the inner workings of the contemporary art world, The Late Hector Kipling is also about an ordinary man’s tragic journey.
A self-help book for business leaders, Power and Influence: The Rules Have Changed seeks to equip entrepreneurs to create success in the digital world. Robert L. Dilenschneider is a leading communications expert in the US and he uses his won experiences in the transitional years when digital technology took over the world as well as knowledge gleaned from 1000 drivers of change in all fields of business, to formulate 10 universal principles or “power tools” to attain success in a technology-driven, volatile economy. He also includes anecdotes and insights that further illustrate ways that can help new leaders acquire and amplify their power. There are examples of visionaries the author has encountered during his career, as well as ordinary people whose prior know-how and good sense enabled them to succeed.
Artist K.G.Subramanyan needs no introduction to art enthusiasts. One of the pioneers of the Baroda School of art, he has experimented with various media while retaining a reverence and love for India’s traditional and folk imagery. This pictorial book, K.G.Subramanyan: Painted Platters, tackles just one aspect of Subramanyan’s art—his paintings in gouache on terracotta plates that he did for two decades, from 1980 to the early 2000s, also known as the ‘sara’ paintings. The author, art historian R.Sivakumar, worked closely with the artist during this phase, and he documents over 100 works and analyzes them in their socio-economic and cultural context. Filled with artistic jargons, it’s likely to bog down the average art lover, but is of use to historians, students and connoisseurs.