In fine print: China, Kashmir, Islam and life

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Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s take on China, Kashmir’s street protests, a woman trying to cope with ghosts from her past and a lottery win that changed a teenager’s life. Cool off this weekend in the mid-summer heat with an arm load of books that looks beyond the obvious.

1. Book: ” On China “; Written by Henry Kissinger; Published by Penguin-India; Price Rs.899
For the first time, in a full length book, Henry Kissinger writes about China, the country he has known intimately for decades and whose modern relations with the West he helped shape.
Drawing on historical records as well as his conversations with Chinese leaders over the past 40 years, Kissinger examines how China has approached diplomacy, strategy, and negotiation throughout its history, and reflects on the consequences. For more than 20 years after the Communist Revolution in 1949, China and most of the Western world had no diplomats in each other’s capitals and no direct way to communicate.
Then, in July 1971, Kissinger arrived secretly in Beijing on a mission which quickly led to the reopening of relations between China and the West and changed the course of post-war history.

2. Book: ” Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifida in Kashmir “; Edited by Sanjay Kak; Published by Penguin-India; Price Rs.299
In the troubled history of contemporary Kashmir, the summer of 2010 will be remembered as a watershed. Protests against the “encounter” killings of civilians turned into an unprecedented display of courage, as a new generation took to the streets, their only weapons – stones – in their hands. It has been called Kashmir’s Intifada, marking a paradigm shift from armed militancy to mass rebellion.
This was also accompanied by a remarkable explosion in the writing on Kashmir, in a new language of ideas that bypasses the old and parochial ways in which Kashmir has been seen and understood.
The pieces in this volume voice the rage and helplessness sweeping through the valley while also offering rare insights into the lives of those caught in the crossfire. With contributions from journalists, academics and artists, the book is a timely collection of contemporary writing about Kashmir.

3. Book: ” The Good Muslim “; Written by Tahmina Anam; Published by Penguin-India; Price Rs.499
One hot afternoon in a remote Bangladeshi village, a telegram arrives for Maya Haque. Eight years before, a devastating war tore Maya’s country – and her family – apart. Now she realises it is time to return home at last. Maya arrives to find that everything has changed.
Her old friends have been seduced by the lure of new money, her city’s streets have been renamed and the freedom she had once yearned for is a long-forgotten dream.
Worst of all, her beloved brother Sohail has become a stranger to her, abandoning his liberal beliefs to become a strict religious leader. As she attempts to come to terms with her brother’s radicalism, Maya will be forced to rethink what it means to be a good daughter, sister, friend and citizen – and to be a good Muslim.

4. Book: ” A Scandalous Secret “; Written by Jaishree Misra; Published by Harper-Collins India; Price Rs.299
They had the perfect marriage….glamour, money, and a beautiful home, the golden couple of Delhi, Neha and Sharat, appeared to have it all. But a dark secret from Neha’s past is about to resurface, a heartbreaking moment in her past that she has tried to block out.
While studying at Oxford, a naive 18-year-old Neha became pregnant and made the difficult decision to give the baby up for adoption, vowing never to contact her child again.
But now, years later, her little girl – Sonya – is now a fully grown woman and determined to find her birth mother. With the foundation of Neha’s and Sharat’s world rocked to its very core, will Sonya’s arrival in Delhi push it over the edge?
And as Sonya begins to confront Neha, can mother and daughter allow themselves to forgive and forget?

5. Book: ” Chopped Green Chillies in Vanilla Ice Cream “; Written by Sam Mukherjee; Published by Rupa & Co; Price Rs.146
Chinmoy Bose, a slightly overweight adolescent, is uprooted from his beloved neighbourhood in Kolkata when his parents win a lottery. Childhood friends are distanced and school ceases to be vernacular.
The despondent teenager arrives at the uppity Vanilla Apartments where he meets the best friends of his life and acquires the nickname, Tiger. He savours every single day of his new found existence with four spirited boys, Kirit, Robin, Signal and Pluto.
Vanilla Apartments is a multistoreyed behemoth of white cement that resembles a massive block of vanilla ice cream. It houses misfits and wannabes; islands and archipelagos. Quidnuncs and vamps complete the equation. Their spicy lives are like chopped green chillies in vanilla ice cream and there is never a dull day in the high-rise.
Tiger’s journey with his friends is full of admiration as well as controversies. He nurtures the dream of going to America one day. But a surprising betrayal threatens to alter the course of his life.

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