The next batch of books arrived with the Bil*
Dork by Sidin Vadukut: I love Sidin’s columns in Mint so I was keen to read this one though I had been warned it wasn’t all that. And sadly, the detractor was right. On a positive note, it is a good example of how to write in a colloquial voice and still be writing in English (as opposed to bad grammar, typos etc. that gets passed off as the common man’s English). I think it was aiming to be something like Bridget Jones’s Diary for guys. Only it ended up more like Mr. Bean. The protagonist was not so much annoying as too caricature like and therefore impossible to identify with. Maybe Mr. Bean is the guy’s version of Bridget Jones in which case maybe this book works for the male gender. Unfortunately Sil bought the sequel too which I shall now feel obliged to read.
Princess of Shadows by Indu Sundaresan: I had asked for Twentieth Wife but this one – the last in the series – was the only one available. I love historical novels and although this one takes quite a few liberties in terms of plot, the historical details in terms of the running of the empire, architecture, and the anecdotes the story is built out of are well researched. I love that it’s opened up a fascinating period of history and humanised the Mughals, including Aurangzeb who, because I grew up in Maharashtra and spent 10 years reading the same history of Shivaji over and over, had been etched in my mind as a villain. I had also been kind of cynical about the Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal love story but now I’m more of a believer and I really want to see the Taj and visit Delhi. Ah one more thing to do with my babies when they grow up.
On Balance by Leila Seth: This one is an autobiography and I got it on the recommendation of Dipali. The author is Vikram Seth’s mother but more to the point, the first female high court judge in India. I was a little disappointed starting out because the language was simple and the anecdotes a little ordinary but by 50 pages I was quite into it and as it progresses it gets really interesting – particularly the parts about being the lone woman in the legal arena at her time, the insights into how the courts and the upper judiciary function as well as how she dealt with the interesting choices of her children as a mother.
Jimmy The Terrorist by Omair Ahmad: A really well-written novella about the birth of a criminal, written in a style that reminds me of Salman Rushdie’s. Wasn’t crazy about the end, felt that it should have been elaborated more but then I read that this was originally a short story that he expanded and it made sense why it seemed to end a little too soon. But worth reading anyway.