Books of the week: From The Last Days of Mandelstam to On the Trail of Buddha, our picks

Our weekly roundup of books that should be on your radar.

Aarushi Agrawal November 01, 2020 12:01:16 IST
Books of the week: From The Last Days of Mandelstam to On the Trail of Buddha, our picks

We love stories, and even in the age of Netflix-and-chill, there's nothing like a good book that promises a couple of hours of absorption — whether curled up in bed, in your favourite coffeehouse, or that long (and tiresome) commute to work. Every Sunday, we'll have a succinct pick of books, across diverse genres, that have been newly made available for your reading pleasure. Get them wherever you get your books — the friendly neighbourhood bookseller, e-retail website, chain store — and in whatever form you prefer. Happy reading!

For more of our weekly book recommendations, click here.

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– FICTION

The Last Days of Mandelstam
By Vénus Khoury–ghata; translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan
Seagull Books | Rs 499 | 120 pages

Translator Teresa Lavender Fagan translates French-Lebanese author and poet Vénus Khoury–ghata’s novel. Set in 1938, it details the last days of Russian poet and essayist Osip Mandelstam. The 47-year-old has been arrested by the Stalin government during the 1930s repression and sent into exile. He’s now in a transit camp near Vladivostok. In his prison cell, Mandelstam is lost in a world of ghosts, seeing scenes from his life pass before him.

Read more about the book here.

Uttara Kaanda
By SL Bhyrappa; translated by Rashmi Terdal
Westland Publications | Rs 599 | 356 pages

Journalist Rashmi Terdal translates eminent Kannada novelist SL Bhyrappa’s novel into English. Uttara Kaanda, based on the final volume of Valmiki’s Ramayana, is Bhyrappa’s retelling of the epic, where he humanises the gods. In it, Sita looks back on her life, abandoned first as a child and now by her husband. As they return from the exile, Rama is anointed king of Ayodhya, but a pregnant Sita is sent away to live in the forest, her exile not over yet.

Hidden in Plain Sight
By Jeffrey Archer
Pan Macmillan India | Rs 450 | 400 pages

Bestselling author Jeffrey Archer’s latest novel is the second to feature William Warwick, who’s now been promoted to Detective Sergeant, and reassigned to the Drugs Squad. They’re tasked with apprehending the drug dealer Ahmed Rashedi who operates out of South London. As the investigation progresses, William runs into old enemies and new. He’s also planning his wedding with fiancé Beth, but an unpleasant surprise awaits them at the altar.

Read more about the book here.

Insomnia: Army Stories
By Rachna Bisht Rawat
Penguin Random House India | Rs 299 | 208 pages

Author Rachna Bisht Rawat’s collection of short stories details facets of army life. Among others, they tell of a retired General who is haunted by the voices of dead men; soldiers of two enemy nations manning posts in Siachen who form a strange connection; a young Lieutenant who is watched over by three men as he’s dying in Arunachal Pradesh’s jungles; and the invisible people a girl awaiting brain surgery at the Lansdowne Military Hospital talks to.

Read more about the book here.

– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

On the Trail of Buddha: A Journey to the East
By Deepankar Aron
Niyogi Books | Rs 1,995 | 310 pages

Indian Revenue Service officer and travel writer Deepankar Aron details his search for the spiritual, philosophical, and cultural links between India and East Asian civilisations. The book details the wandering monks of Asia and the temples and monasteries they visited, the statues and frescoes in grottoes and museums, the common gods and goddesses of an ethnically diverse people, and more.

Read more about the book here.

– NON-FICTION

Fossil Free: Reimagining Clean Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World
By Sumant Sinha
HarperCollins India | Rs 699 | 372 pages

Sumant Sinha is an entrepreneur in the clean energy sector. In this book, he shares his vision for clean and affordable energy solutions. He details the challenges, realities, and complexities of the global and local energy industry, assesses trends driving energy transition, and discusses what’s needed to make the shift to sustainable energy sources. He discusses decentralised smart grids, electric vehicles, energy storage, and more as pathways to this transition.

Read more about the book here.

Kaddish: Pages on Tadeusz Kantor
By Jan Kott; edited by Piotr Kloczowski; translated by Jakob Ziguras
Seagull Books | Rs 399 | 64 pages

Translated by Jakob Ziguras and edited by Polish essayist and professor at Warsaw’s National Theatre Academy Piotr Kloczowski, this book presents 20th-century theatre critic Jan Kott’s meditations on Tadeusz Kantor (1915-90), renowned for his revolutionary theatre performances in his native Poland and elsewhere. Kott describes ‘the experience of Kantor’ and discusses the philosophical question: What can save the memory of Kantor’s ‘Theatre of Death’ — the Image, or the Word/Logos?

Read more about the book here.

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