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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Trip to India via the Library

Posted by Alana T.

Recently, just by chance, I've taken home a number of library books and a DVD set in India.  The stories are quite different, but have a very similar timbre.  Request one from the library and take a journey

The Case of the Missing Servant and The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall.  "India's Most Private Detective", Vish Puri  is a fascinating guy.  Imagine Agatha Christie's Poirot, but as an Indian who is addicted to street food and is fond of strange disguises.   His idiosyncratic employees assist him in solving crimes that are baffling and more than a bit bizarre.  These books are quick, entertaining reads that provide a light-hearted, but down-to-earth picture of life in India.

Six Suspects by Vika SwarupThe author of Slumdog Millionaire follows up his first novel with this dark, but fascinating story set in big-city India.  A rich and totally corrupt man is murdered at his birthday party, and six people at the party are arrested as suspects for the murder.  The six are from all walks of life (from a poor slum dweller to a Bollywood star) and all have motive.  The book follows the events leading up to the murder as told by each suspect.  The final resolution is a jaw dropper.  Highly recommended.

The Warrior (DVD, 2001)   The main character is a warrior for hire for the local (and cruel) chieftain.  He decides to give up his violent ways and redeem himself, but his past won't let him go.  There is very little dialogue but the stunning scenery and wonderful cast make the story easy to understand.

Also Recommended:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy  A profoundly sad story about twins (a boy and girl) set in Kerala, India.  Winner of the Booker Prize in 1997.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel  The main character, Pi Patel, lives the first 16 years of his life in India, but then things take a tragic and fascinating turn when the family emigrates to Canada. Winner of the Booker Prize in 2002.

Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni  "A reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, The Mahābhārata".  The story is told from the point of view of the main character, Princess Panchaali, a woman fated to change the course of history.  She marries five brothers (all at once!), lives for a time in the beautiful palace of illusions, and then, because of her and her husband's choices, war shatters and destroys everything.  An engrossing selection of historical fiction.

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