Bookless In Baghdad

Bookless in Baghdad
by Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor is once again at his provocative best. In the title essay, we learn the steep price paid by some Iraqis just to obtain a book; what does it mean when selling books, essentially selling culture, out of one’s own library is the only way to put bread on the table? Later, Tharoor reminisces about growing up with books in India and the central position of classics like the Mahabharata in developing his own literary identity. The poignant homage to Chilean poet Pablo Neruda recalls his incendiary deathbed challenge as an oppressive military regime invaded his home: “There is only one thing of danger for you here—my poetry!” 
“The defining features of today’s world,” Tharoor writes of the global stage, “are the relentless forces of globalization—the same forces used by the terrorists in their macabre dance of death and destruction.” His astute views on Salman Rushdie, India’s love for P. G. Wodehouse, Rudyard Kipling, Aleksandr Pushkin, John le Carré, V. S. Naipaul, and Winston Churchill make for fascinating reading. His insightful takes on Hollywood and Bollywood will intrigue even the most demanding cinephile. Together, these thirty-nine pieces reveal the inner workings of one of today’s most eclectic writers.

The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone
by Shashi Tharoor

For More Than Four Decades After Gaining Independence, India, With Its Massive Size And Population, Staggering Poverty And Slow Rate Of Growth, Was Associated With The Plodding, Somnolent Elephant, Comfortably Resting On Its Achievements Of Centuries Gone By. Then In The Early 1990S The Elephant Seemed To Wake Up From Its Slumber And Slowly Begin To Change Until Today, In The First Decade Of The Twenty-First Century, Some Have Begun To See It Morphing Into A Tiger. As India Turns Sixty, Shashi Tharoor, Novelist And Essayist, Reminds Us Of The Paradox That Is India, The Elephant That Is Becoming A Tiger: With The Highest Number Of Billionaires In Asia, It Still Has The Largest Number Of People Living Amid Poverty And Neglect, And More Children Who Have Not Seen The Inside Of A Schoolroom Than Any Other Country.

So What Does The Twenty-First Century Hold For India? Will It Bring The Strength Of The Tiger And The Size Of An Elephant To Bear Upon The World? Or Will It Remain An Elephant At Heart? In More Than Sixty Essays Organized Thematically Into Six Parts, Shashi Tharoor Analyses The Forces That Have Made Twenty-First Century India And Could Yet Unmake It. He Discusses The Country S Transformation In His Characteristic Lucid Prose, Writing With Passion And Engagement On A Broad Range Of Subjects, From The Very Notion Of Indianness In A Pluralist Society To The Evolution Of The Once Sleeping Giant Into A World Leader In The Realms Of Science And Technology; From The Men And Women Who Make Up His India Gandhi And Nehru And The Less Obvious Ramanujan And Krishna Menon To An Eclectic Array Of Indian Experiences And Realities, Virtual And Spiritual, Political And Filmi. The Book Is Leavened With Whimsical And Witty Pieces On Cricket, Bollywood And The National Penchant For Holidays, And Topped Off With An A To Z Glossary On Indianness, Written With Tongue Firmly In Cheek.

Diverting And Instructive As Ever, Artfully Combining Hard Facts And Statistics With Personal Opinions And Observations, Tharoor Offers A Fresh, Insightful Look At This Timeless And Fast-Changing Society, Emphasizing That India Must Rise Above The Past If It Is To Conquer The Future.


Show Business
by Shashi Tharoor

Critically injured, Indian film superstar Ashok Banjara lies suspended between life and death in the intensive care unit of a plush Bombay hospital, watching the final rerun of his life. Visitors come and go, talking, confiding, pleading with him to rise from his coma, but there is no reaction from Banjara, a prisoner of the technicolor film that plays inside his head. He encounters again all the people he used along the way in his successful film career – his father, a principled politician whose desire to see his son follow in his footsteps is, ironically, fulfilled at the cost of his own aspirations; Maya, his wife, a film star herself who gives up a promising career to live in the shadow of her husband’s superstardom; Pranay, the archetypal cinema villain, who has always loved Maya and can no longer watch from the sidelines as her life is destroyed by the man who snatched her away; Mehnaz Elahi, India’s sexiest screen heroine and Banjara’s mistress; Ashwin, his devoted younger brother, whom Ashok can only betray…and many others who had supporting parts in his life but whose confessions now change the script forever. As a backdrop to these unforgettable characters a private retrospective of his major hits unreels – gaudy, exuberant, beguiling – a never-ending celluloid fantasy that took over his life completely and transformed it into an astonishing, compelling lie. With irrepressible charm and a genius for satire, Tharoor portrays the Indian film world with all its Hollywoodesque glitz and glamour, egos and double standards, as a metaphor for Indian society and no doubt all societies. Onscreen fiction and offscreen reality intertwine seamlessly to weave a tapestry of power andprivilege, seduction and betrayal, politics and intrigue, that is at once colorful, entertaining, and deadly serious. Show Business is many books rolled into one: it is a story about the telling of stories; it is a wonderfully funny tale about the romance and folly of cinema; it is a novel on an epic scale of ambition, greed, love, deception, and death. And, perhaps most important, it is a fable for our time which teaches us that we live in a world where illusion is the only reality and nothing is as it seems.

The Great Indian Novel
by Shashi Tharoor

In this award-winning novel, Tharoor has masterfully recast the two-thousand-year-old epic, The Mahabharata, with fictional but highly recognizable events and characters from twentieth-century Indian politics. Nothing is sacred in this deliciously irreverent, witty, and deeply intelligent retelling of modern Indian history and the ancient Indian epic The Mahabharata. Alternately outrageous and instructive, hilarious and moving, it is a dazzling tapestry of prose and verse that satirically, but also poignantly, chronicles the struggle for Indian freedom and independence.

India
by Shashi Tharoor

At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, a new nation was born. It has 17 major languages and 22,000 distinct dialects. It has over a billion individuals of every ethnic extraction known to humanity. It has a population that is 32 percent illiterate, but also one of the worlds largest pools of trained scientists and engineers. Its ageless civilization is the birthplace of four major religions, a dozen different traditions of classical dance, and 300 ways of cooking a potato. Shashi Tharoors INDIA is a fascinating portrait of one of the worlds most interesting countriesits politics, its mentality, and its cultural riches. But it is also an eloquent argument for the importance of India to the future of America and the industrialized world. With the energy and erudition that distinguished his prize-winning novels, Tharoor points out that Indians account for a sixth of the worlds population and their choices will resonate throughout the globe. He deals with this vast theme in a work of remarkable depth and startling originality, combining elements of political scholarship, personal reflection, memoir, fiction, and polemic, all illuminated in vivid and compelling prose.

My Dateless Diary
by R K Narayan

An unusual and witty travel book about the United States of America. At the age of fifty, when most people have settled for the safety of routine, R. K. Narayan left India for the first time to travel through America. In this account of his journey, the writer’s pen unerringly captures the clamour and energy of New York city, the friendliness of the West Coast, the wealth and insularity of the Mid-West, the magnificence of the Grand Canyon…Threading their way through the narrative are a host of delightful characters—from celebrities like Greta Garbo, Aldous Huxley, Martha Graham, Cartier Bresson, Milton Singer, Edward G. Robinson and Ravi Shankar to the anonymous business tycoon on the train who dismissed the writer when he discovered Narayan had nothing to do with India’s steel industry. As a bonus, there are wry snapshots of those small but essential aspects of American life—muggers, fast food restaurants, instant gurus, subway commuters, TV advertisements, and American football. An entrancing and compelling travelogue about an endlessly fascinating land.

One Bullet Away
by Nathaniel C. Fick

If the Marines are “the few, the proud,” Recon Marines are the fewest and the proudest. Nathaniel Fick’s career begins with a hellish summer at Quantico, after his junior year at Dartmouth. He leads a platoon in Afghanistan just after 9/11 and advances to the pinnacle—Recon— two years later, on the eve of war with Iraq. His vast skill set puts him in front of the front lines, leading twenty-two Marines into the deadliest conflict since Vietnam. He vows to bring all his men home safely, and to do so he’ll need more than his top-flight education. Fick unveils the process that makes Marine officers such legendary leaders and shares his hard-won insights into the differences between military ideals and military practice, which can mock those ideals.

In this deeply thoughtful account of what it’s like to fight on today’s front lines, Fick reveals the crushing pressure on young leaders in combat. Split-second decisions might have national consequences or horrible immediate repercussions, but hesitation isn’t an option. One Bullet Away never shrinks from blunt truths, but ultimately it is an inspiring account of mastering the art of war.


Spoils
by Brian Van Reet

“The finest Iraq War novel yet written by an American”– Wall Street Journal, 10 Best Novels of the Year
“An electrifying debut” (The Economist) that maps the blurred lines between good and evil, soldier and civilian, victor and vanquished.
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence
It is April 2003. American forces have taken Baghdad and are now charged with winning hearts and minds. But this vital tipping point is barely recognized for what it is, as a series of miscalculations and blunders fuels an already-simmering insurgency intent on making Iraq the next graveyard of empires.

In dazzling and propulsive prose, Brian Van Reet explores the lives on both sides of the battle lines: Cassandra, a nineteen-year-old gunner on an American Humvee who is captured during a deadly firefight and awakens in a prison cell; Abu Al-Hool, a lifelong mujahedeen beset by a simmering crisis of conscience as he struggles against enemies from without and within, including the new wave of far more radicalized jihadists; and Specialist Sleed, a tank crewman who goes along with a “victimless” crime, the consequences of which are more awful than any he could have imagined.

Depicting a war spinning rapidly out of control, destined to become a modern classic, Spoils is an unsparing and morally complex novel that chronicles the achingly human cost of combat.


Riot
by Shashi Tharoor

The renowned Indian author of Why I Am a Hindu delivers “a splendidly readable novel of memorable characters and complexity” (The Washington Post).
 
A highly motivated, idealistic American student, Priscilla Hart had come to India to volunteer in women’s health programs. Instead, she wound up dead. Had an indiscriminate love affair spun out of control? Had a disgruntled, deeply jealous colleague been pushed to the edge? Or was she simply the innocent victim of a riot that had exploded in that fateful year of 1989 between Hindus and Muslims?
 
Experimenting masterfully with narrative form in this brilliant tour de force, internationally acclaimed novelist Shashi Tharoor chronicles the mystery of Priscilla Hart’s death through the often contradictory accounts of a dozen or more characters, all of whom relate their own versions of the events surrounding her killing. Like his two previous novels, Riot probes and reveals the richness of India, and is at once about love, hate, cultural collision, the ownership of history, religious fanaticism, and the impossibility of knowing the truth.
 
“A multilayered narrative that sheds light on many contemporary issues on history, politics and culture of India . . . A love story of cross-cultural beings.” —Rupkatha Journal
 
“A thoughtful, sociologically precise novel about the religious tensions racking the subcontinent . . . Tharoor’s story is about a larger topic than the undoing of one innocent American—it is about the potential fragmentation of the secular Indian republic, a tragedy in the making.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“Tharoor has once again proved his formidable intellectual prowess and creative acumen . . . A story of ignited passions and communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.” —Taylor & Francis Online
 

IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq
by IraqiGirl

I feel that I have been sleeping all my life and I have woken up and opened my eyes to the world. A beautiful world! But impossible to live in.

These are the words of fifteen-year-old Hadiya, blogging from the city of Mosul, Iraq, to let the world know what life is really like as the military occupation of her country unfolds. In many ways, her life is familiar. She worries about exams and enjoys watching Friends during the rare hours that the electricity in her neighborhood is running.

But the horrors of war surround her everywhere—weeklong curfews, relatives killed, and  friends whose families are forced to flee their homes. With black humor and unflinching honesty, Hadiya shares the painful stories of lives changed forever. “Let’s go back,” she writes, “to my un-normal life.”

With her intimate reflections on family, friendship, and community, IraqiGirl also allows us to witness the determination of one girl not only to survive, but to create, amidst the  devastation of war, a future worth living for.

“Hadiya’s authentically teenage voice, emotional struggles and concerns make her story all the more resonant.” Publishers Weekly

“Despite all the news coverage about the war in Iraq, very little is reported about how it affects the daily lives of ordinary citizens. A highschooler in the city of Mosul fills in the gap with this compilation of her blog posts about living under U.S. occupation. She writes in English because she wants to reach Americans, and in stark specifics, she records the terrifying dangers of car bombs on her street and American warplanes overhead, as well as her everyday struggles to concentrate on homework when there is no water and electricity at home. Her tone is balanced: she does not hate Americans, and although she never supported Saddam Hussein, she wonders why he was executed… Readers will appreciate the details about family, friends, school, and reading Harry Potter, as well as the  ever-present big issues for which there are no simple answers.” —Hazel Rochman, Booklist

“IraqiGirl has poured reflections of her daily life into her blog, reaching all over the  cyber-world from her home in northern Iraq. She writes about the universals of teen life—school, family, TV, food, Harry Potter—but always against the background of sudden explosions, outbursts of gunfire, carbombs, death.… [A]n important addition to multicultural literature.” —Elsa Marston, author of Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories About Teens in the Arab World

“A book as relevant to adults as teenagers and children. Hadiya’s clear, simple language conveys the feelings of a teenager, offering a glimpse into the daily life of a professional middle-class Iraqi family in an ancient-modern city subjected to a brutal occupation.”
—Haifa Zangana, author of City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman’s Account of War and Resistance



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