Category Archives: New Releases

October releases – Ten books to look out for

The weather is changing, slowly and gradually as October starts. It’s time for Navratra, Durga Puja and Dussehra and  of course, the wedding season to start.  And it’s also time for the monthly post informing you about books releasing this month! October seems to be an exciting month for Literature as we have releases from best selling authors like Elizabeth Gilbert, John Grisham, Stephen King, Helen Fielding and some interesting debuts from new comers too.

1. THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS by Elizabeth Gilbert, Bloomsbury Publishing

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The Signature of all Things is the story of inquisitive, independent and intelligent Alma Whittaker. The book is fantastic. Fiction and philosophy and science- all rolled into one. Quite different from Eat, Love, Pray and this is a very promising work. You can also check out my review of the book here.

More about the book: Excerpt | Book Trailer | Reviews on Goodreads

Buy the book from: Flipkart | Amazon

2. DOCTOR SLEEP by Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton

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Doctor Sleep is the sequel to Stephen King’s 1977 novel, The Shining. The Shining is the same horror story that inspired the movie starring Jack Nicholson. Doctor Sleep follows the story of Dan Terrance (boy protagonist of The Shining) who is now middle aged and works in a nursing home, providing comfort to the dying with the help of his mental abilities. There’s also a cat who can foresee the future and Abra Stone, a twelve year old girl, who shows remarkable psychic ability.

A short 11 minute mp3 excerpt from the first chapter is available here and which can be downloaded (Source: Official Stephen King Website). You can also watch Stephen King read out from the book in this youtube video.

Also, do not forget to check out this scary book trailer below:

Pre order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

3. MAD ABOUT THE BOY by Helen Fielding, Random House

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Among all October releases, I’d been quite excited about this book since some time. Until of course I learnt that Mark Darcy is dead in the book (*sniff*) and Bridget Jones is a widow. However I do want to read about Bridget Jones again whose bumbling manners made a fan out of every person who read Bridget Jone’s Diary.

It seems the release may be slightly delayed as early issues of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy were mistakenly printed with a 40-page extract from actor Sir David Jason’s memoirs, which hit bookstores on the same day.

Now, here’s a video of Helen Fielding reading out from the book!

Pre order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

4. SYCAMORE ROW by John Grisham, Hachette India

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Sycamore Row is the sequel to Grisham’s A Time to Kill, which was a hugely popular novel, made into a film later on, starring Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Samuel Jackson. Sycamore Row sees Jack Brigance coming back into action, making the book a power packed legal thriller.

More about the book: Excerpt | Interview with John Grisham

Pre order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

5. BLEEDING EDGE by Thomas Pynchon, Random House

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Pynchon’s latest book is a detective story, with the September 11 attacks and transformation due to the internet being the two major themes. Noted for his dense and complex novels, as per reviews, Pynchon has let the paranoia flow in this book too. The book is loaded with cultural references and verbal sass.

More about the book: Excerpt | GoodReads

Order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

6. VICIOUS CIRCLES by Wilbur Smith, Pan Macmillan

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October seems to be the month for sequels. Wilbur Smith is back with Vicious Circle, the sequel to his novel Those in Peril. 

You can also listen to an excerpt from the book, narrated by John Lee here.

Order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

7. THE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT MOON by Fatima Bhutto, Penguin India

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Fatima Bhutto is the granddaughter of former Pak PM Zufikar Ali Bhutto, niece of Benazir Bhutto and daughter of Murtaza Bhutto. She is a writer and journalist, being very active in Pakistan’s socio-political arena although not associated with any political party. Her most famous work is a memoir, called Songs of Blood and Sword and The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is her first foray into Literary Fiction. It’s a story about love and life and how war makes a person forget the present and choose hope over love.

Pre order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

8. SITA: AN ILLUSTRATED RETELLING OF THE RAMAYANA by Devdutt Pattanaik, Penguin India

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Mythology seems to be trending among Indian authors, especially after books by Anand Neelakantan, Ashok Banker and Amish Tripathi becamebest sellers. However, Devdutt Pattnaik has probably been one of the first successful authors in the mythology genre. Not having read any of his other books and tired of the same brahminical renderings of the Ramayana, I hope this one shall be different, especially because it seems to be from the view point of Sita.

Do check out the book trailer below!

Pre order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

9. THE GIRL FROM NONGRIM HILLS by Ankush Saikia, Penguin India

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The Girl from Nongrim Hills is a thriller set in the city of Shillong. Ankush Saikia is the author of two other books, Jet City Woman and Spotting Veron and Other Stories. 

Order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

10. HOW NOT TO MAKE MONEY by Raj Kundra, Random House India

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Fiction by celebrities often tends to be disappointing. However I hope this will not turn out to be one too. As you probably know, Raj Kundra is the same one who’s Shilpa Shetty’s husband, owns Rajasthan Royal along with other businesses and has been in the news some time back in the betting scandal. The story is a thriller, involving three friends in London, two of whom are smugglers while the third is a lawyer. The story is based on the Missing Trader Fraud that led to big losses for the governments of UK and Europe in the 2000s.

Order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

Book Review: The Competent Authority by Shovon Chowdhury

The current status of our chaotic country seems to be an extremely fitting time for this book to be written. With our country riddled by dishonest, utterly inept politicians, a failing bureaucracy, a police willing to act only at particular instances, a media perpetually high on steroids, shrewd spiritual leaders (better to call them businessmen, no?) and people divided by stupid things like caste and religion, the book ‘The Competent Authority’ by Shovon Chowdhury is a commentary on the prevailing social and political conditions in India.

With 452 pages and a small sized font, at first this book seemed to pose a challenge to me. Lately, things have been hectic and I have found it hard to sustain the energy to write on this blog, after a long day and the commute in the metro. However this book is anything but boring.

The book The Competent Authority is a witty take on life in the year 2050 in a scenario when cities like Delhi and Mumbai do not exist (at least not in the same form we know them today) because of a war with China (they got nuked). Bengal has declared itself to be a Chinese protectorate and India is controlled by a bureaucrat known as the competent authority, with the PM only being a figurehead(Oh well, not that it is quite different in real life too). The competent authority is invisible to the public and is a megalomaniac with a desire to go down in history as the one who successfully spurred economic growth and reconstruction. Not satisfied by the ongoing reconstruction efforts which have managed to do little ‘re-construction’, the competent authority wishes to ‘re’-start the ‘re’-construction process completely. This, he aims to do so, at great cost, even if you disregard the whole madness of his scheme. Essentially, this is a story of how he is stopped from carrying out his mad plans.

There are many interesting characters who join him, especially Ali – an Al Queda member who isn’t much of a terrorist, Banani – a school teacher who is not as helpless as her husband seems to think, Pande – the epitome of the paunchy Indian policeman or Pintoo – a character without whom the book would be incomplete. Actually, the book would be incomplete even if one of the other characters were to be removed.

The writing is funny and simple, neither compromising on the laws of language (or the ‘literary’ quotient, if you may choose to call it so) nor becoming obtuse to the reader. At the start, one may get a little confused when so many characters are introduced at quite the same time. However, the author has listed all the characters in the book at the start, describing them in a short and funny way.The Author has made fun of everybody, whether it be spiritual leaders running a business in the name of faith, bureaucrats, Bengalis, communists, capitalists, dynasty politics, right wing fundamentalism and even Honey Singh (Yey!).

This is a satire but at the same time, the book becomes sensitive at certain places, giving time to the reader to meditate and take it all in, the whole meaning of life, hidden somewhere in between the different layers of sarcasm, speculation and irony. Extremely poignant are two scenes, one in which Gandhi talks about himself and what’s he done, to Chatterjee, who’s been sent into the past to save Gandhi. The other scene has one of the central characters losing his hand. The book also leaves you with a positive message, albeit a little cliched.

About the book: The Competent Authority | Shovon Chowdhury | Aleph Book Company | Fiction | 452 pages | Rs. 495.

Note: A review copy of the book was provided by the publishers, Aleph Book Company.

Debut Author Interview #3: Shovon Chowdhury and The Competent Authority

I had started the Debut Author series so that the readers of the blog could get to know about the authors also, apart from new books. At the same time, it is important to talk to debut authors who are unique just because they bring something new to the table. I have been trying hard to talk to interesting debut authors and I hope you are liking this feature till now.

Today, we learn more about Shovon Chowdhury, new author on the block. Chowdhury does not seem to be one of the new (and typical Indian MBA/Engineer) authors who ‘write’ books to satisfy a particular segment of the population.

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Shovon Chowdhury is at his witty best when he answers some of the questions I pose to him. Do read my review of his latest book ‘The Competent Authority’ before reading this.

1. Tell us something about yourself.

I was born in the UK, and came back to Calcutta when I was 10, because my parents wanted me to be an Indian citizen. So I’m a reverse immigrant – the opposite of Jhumpa Lahiri, or Shilpa Shetty’s husband. I didn’t run away. They made me run back. I had to take a crash course in Bengali. I think I know Hindi as well, but other people don’t always agree. 

We’ve lived in Delhi for the last twenty years. I know it has its problems, but I’m very fond of it. When people complain about Delhi, I always think, they should have lived in Calcutta under Jyoti Basu. It was a place were you couldn’t breath without Party permission, and anyone who did any actual work was viewed as an enemy of the people. Also they painted the tip of the Shahid Minar red, lending a whole new meaning to the term ‘erecting a monument.’

2. What inspired you to write this book?

The news, mostly.

3. Is the Competent Authority based on a person in real life?

I’m not supposed to talk about that. I could be arrested for sedition, or under Section 66A of the IT Act for ‘causing inconvenience’. But he’s real, alright. Who do you think comes up with all the procedures for spectrum allocation? Who was in charge of disbursing Rs 70,000 crores in Maharashtra for irrigation, leading to a 0.1% increase in irrigated area? Who declared Section 144 for 30 days in the town of Thiruvananthapuram, to prevent Dengue? Who do you think makes sure Durga Shakti Nagpal’s transfer orders are properly drafted? He’s all around us.

4. The ending seems a little abrupt? Will we ever come to know what Banani manages to do? Are you going to write a sequel?

I always wanted to end it that way, from day one. Don’t ask me why. I know it’s very simple, but sometimes, life is simple.

I think that’s it for Banani. But you shouldn’t worry. She looks like a delicate flower, but she can take care of herself.

Regarding the sequel, yes, but it’s more of an equel. It describes events that happen at the same time, in Calcutta. That’s where Sanjeev Verma the mining magnate disappears to. I caught a lot of flak for poor writing and loose ends, because he vanished suddenly. I was hoping people would miss him. Apparently some people did. Next time I’ll add a footnote.

I thought Calcutta under Chinese rule might be a fun place to visit. Both parties are equally horrified. Plus there’s the Kolkata Knight Riders under Chinese management, and the lamentable imitation of a Royal Bengal Tiger.

5. What happened to Ali?

He’s roaming the villages of Bengal, spreading the songs of Bob Marley.

6. Was this book difficult to write?

Not at all. I finished it at least six times.

7. The book has released at quite a fitting time. We have Loksabha elections coming soon and everything seems so wrong with the world. Was this release date deliberate?

I took eleven years to write it. The timing had nothing to do with me. I was still messing about with it, because it needed improvement. David just snatched it away from me and sent it for printing. It’s like an exam. At some point, they take away your answer script.

His answers are much like his debut novel, The Competent Authority- witty, playful and yet say a lot. Order a copy now and read this book!

The author on social media-

Follow on twitter: @shovonc

Blog: www.shovonc.wordpress.com

Debut Author Interview #2 & Book Review: Supriya Dravid – A Cool Dark Place

A Cool Dark Place by Supriya Dravid is a very interesting novel. Essentially, it is about Zef and her family. No, wait. It’s about Zef’s family and how she comes to terms with her family and it’s history. Like they say, you can never truly escape your past. It’s about Don, her grandfather who’s charming and at the same time, notoriously selfish in the way he wants to hold on to his daughter, who is Zef’s mother. It’s also about her relationship with Gravy, a man she’s always thought of as her father. Most of all, it’s about finding yourself through the past as memories keep traveling back and forth.

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Supriya Dravid says, “I’ve been writing all my life. It is the only thing I don’t fear. I wanted to write this book as I was coming out a tough relationship, and I wanted to create another future that I would be happy to look forward to. And this book was just that. It gave me something to wake up for, and gave me a new drive to live, breathe and engage with these characters at all hours of the day – when I was awake and even in my dreams. I wanted to create this parallel universe that I could escape into and this book did just that. Even though the book has a dark tone, it was a happy preoccupation for me.”

Zef, the main protagonist (No, wait, that would be Don, he manages to be omnipresent, much to his daughter’s annoyance) is a young girl with a family which undergoes a series of tragedies. Mostly created because of one man that is Don. The book starts on a somber tone with Gravy’s death and her mother is severely heart broken. This is when the both of them really start talking and her mother walks into the past, narrating bits and pieces to escape the void that has been created by Gravy’s suicide. But wait, let me not give away the whole book because there’s a lot of things that both the reader and Zef discover as the story moves on.

I asked Supriya, “Zef is an interesting character but we learn more about her family than her. You haven’t really shown us her life apart from that with her family. Was that deliberate?”

She answers, “Yes, that was deliberate. Mostly because the book is not about Zef, it is about her family as seen through her eyes. It is about how she makes sense of her world through the chaos that descends in their lives, and its impact on her. The madness that ensues does not allow her to escape her family’s past – at least for the moment.

I loved the characters in the book. They are all eccentric and endearing at the same time. I really liked Zef’s mother. She loves with no holds barred. That is primarily her philosophy of life. Gravy is a sweet character about whom you learn a shocking secret. Zef’s grandmother is another curious character in the book. But the one guy who beats them all is Don, Zef’s grandfather. I think he is the reason Zef narrates this tale.

“Yes he is so bloody psychotic, isn’t he? Some aspects of Don’s life are loosely based on my maternal grandfather. But a lot of it is also imagined and inspired by many other interesting people I’ve met”, says Supriya Dravid.

I wonder if Supriya Dravid will write a sequel to this book. I sure would want to see Zef again, but this time with her future as the main theme of the book rather than the past.

“The thought did occur to me and a lot of people have asked if I will do a sequel. To tell you the truth, I haven’t really thought of Zef’s future. A lot of it has to do with allowing the reader to imagine the impact on what she has learnt and what she has chosen to keep as a secret will have on her future. I think some stories should not be meddled with any more. I want to let it lie (for the time being at least). They need to breathe and exist just as they were meant to be. I’d like to explore another story with a different tone, texture and a narrative that stretches and terrifies me at the same time.” says Supriya.

Dravid’s writing is beautiful. There is a natural flow in her words and her descriptions are profound. There are some books you read just because you want to appreciate the beauty of the written word and this is one of them.

Random Trivia: Supriya David’s favouri authors and books are Dom Moraes, DBC Pierre, Jim Carroll, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Truman Capote

About the book: A Cool Dark Place | Supriya Dravid | Random House India | Fiction | 256 Pages

Note: An advanced review copy of the book was provided by the publishers, Random House India.

Book releases in September – Fiction

August was an exciting month with so many book releases. However, September doesn’t look too bad either, with books by Margaret Atwood and Jhumpa Lahiri set to release. Check out the book releases in September below!

1. MADDADDAM by Margaret Atwood, Bloomsbury Publishing

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Maddaddam is the concluding book of the speculative trilogy which began with Oryx and Crake and continued with The Year of the Flood. I have to say this, I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ impressed and made me cringe at the same.

Related: An Excerpt from the book on Speakeasy, The Wall Street Journal.

Check out the Book trailer on youtube!

 

Buy the book from Flipkart | Amazon

2. THE LOWLAND by Jhumpa Lahiri, Random House India

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The Lowland is the story of two brothers, Udayan and Subhash Mitra, growing up in the 1950s in Calcutta. The two brothers are opposites and as the 1960s progress, they move apart in politics, with one brother committing himself to a radical communist group while the other goes off to University in America.

Pre order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

3. THE KILL LIST by Frederick Forsyth, Random House India

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The Kill List is another fast paced suspense thriller from Frederick Forsyth, revolving around Tracker, a US marine who is bent upon tracking down the Preacher, a terrorist radicalizing young Muslims to carry out assassinations around the world. The movie rights to the book have already been bought.

Related: An excerpt from the book on DNA.

Pre order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

4. THE LONGEST RIDE by Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central Publishing

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The latest book by Nicholas Sparks is about two couple, separated by years and experience but whose lives converge unexpectedly. In his usual style, the book promises to be as romantic as the rest of his books. An Indian edition is yet to be released and there’s no pre order link available yet. Wait for an affordable Indian edition to be released, unless you are a die hard fan of Nicholas Sparks and can’t wait to get your hands on the book.

In that case, you can buy the book on Flipkart.

5. NEVER GO BACK by Lee Child, Random House India

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Jack Reacher goes back into his past in this action packed thriller, as he is accused of a sixteen year old homicide. Lee Child makes him question who he is, his past and the future ahead.

Related: Lee Child talking about the book.

Pre order the book from Flipkart | Amazon

6. ENON by Paul Harding, Random House

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Pulitzer prize winning author Paul Harding follows his book Tinkers with Enon, a story of a father’s grief over the death of his daughter, which threatens to derail everything in his life. Again, I am not sure when an Indian Edition is releasing.

Related: Paul Harding talks about his book in this video.

Pre order the book on Amazon.

Lady, you’re not a man !

I finished reading ‘Lady, you’re not a man’ by Apurva Purohit, on a journey back from Mumbai.

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I went to Mumbai as I was one of the 25 shortlisted persons for Bloomberg TV’s show ‘The Pitch’. The fact that I didn’t make it to the top ten meant that I did not have a return ticket planned and paid for. There was also the possibility of staying an extra day in Mumbai, the next day being a holiday for ‘Rakshabandhan’. It also meant a chance to meet up old friends, make some new ones, spend some time watching the waves lash on to the shore at Marine Drive,most importantly a break from the ‘adult’ world that I suddenly felt thrust into, after my post graduation, which sometimes felt a little stifling after all the freedom I got at MICA. Hence, I was looking forward to spending time in Mumbai. Mumbai, that supposedly safe and sound place. The city that never sleeps.

And while I was re-blogging a poem called ‘Free’ (oh, the irony!) on this website on Independence Day, a journalist was being gang raped in the city that never sleeps. The fact that she was a photo journalist assumes more importance than the person she is. Why? Because, most of the times, our professions define us, some thing without which we’d be quite lost. Your profession gives you independence and a lot of times, it becomes a quiet source from where to derive strength and confidence. But what if our identity gets lost some day? What to do, if it’s just not safe any longer? Do you sit at home, ‘protected’ ? Of course, that would be an equally foolish thing to do, considering the number of rapes that happen AT home.

This was supposed to be a straight forward review of the book ‘Lady, you’re not a man’ and a Q&A with the author, Apurva Purohit, CEO of Radiocity. However, after hearing the news about the recent gang rape in Mumbai, I guess this has turned out to be something more.

The book Lady, you’re not a man by Apurva Purohit is about how women face a lot of challenges both at home and at work. Prime among them, are concerns of the glass ceiling, stereotyping of women, safety of women in the workplace, handling both domestic and professional life at the same time, etc. Apurva Purohit regales you with witty stories which illustrate her reasoning. Her writing is smart, crisp and funny. She tells you how you can succeed even if there are some odds stacked behind you. It’s also how, as a woman, you need to realize that even men face stereotyping and certain things are unfair to men too.

The book is quite relevant to women like me who are working and especially to others who are  both married AND working. If you take me for an example, I work in the FMCG Industry. It being only 4 months since I joined, I am at a Management Trainee position, at a stage where I am expected to learn the in and outs of the market, work in the same way that my sub ordinates would work, till I am deemed ‘ready’ to be given the responsibility of managing people. It’s not a proper ‘corporate’ job (the definition of ‘corporate’ being a job in an air conditioned office), according to my mother, much to her annoyance. It involves  getting your hands dirty handling distributors, salesmen, store owners every day and not to forget, travelling to all sorts of neighborhoods in Delhi. But wait, I like my job. It’s challenging and I get to see lot of places that I would never normally visit. I am also learning things about marketing and consumer behavior which I never would in a class room. To tell you the truth, I get some kick out of trying to prove that I can do it too, in spite of being a female and hence, ‘the weaker sex’, although it’s a little unfortunate that there’s a need to prove this. (Blah 😛 )

After reading the book, I got in touch with Apurva Purohit by email and asked her some questions. Being a true professional, she got back to a lowly blogger (It’s not like this blog is the ‘Time’ magazine) like me, quite quickly.

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The first question I posed was, “Somehow, at the workplace, I have felt the need to work harder than the men around, as if to prove that women can also be professional. Isn’t it unfair that stereotypes of women ‘not being serious about work’ and only interested in ‘talking on the phone’ exist and we need to doubly work to overcome them?”

Yes, firstly stereotypes do exist and we all have to work hard to overcome them. So the hysterical female boss, the kitty party attending housewife, the over protective mom are images that we need to deal with. Having said that I think society stereotypes everyone , so even men have stereotypes operating against them. I think we just need to recognize that women haven’t been specifically singled out for this dubious honor!”, she answers.

But at the same time, I face a risk everyday (as do so many women), just because of the fact that I am a female and the next person on the street could be a potential rapist/molester (although I do still have more hope from men that not everybody is bad after all).

She continues, ‘I see a lot of women today enthusiastically picking up the gauntlet of entering male dominated industries. Working with the organization to neutralize external negative factors is one way to tackle this issue; so asking for pick-ups and drops to ensure safe travel, ensuring the organization is taking necessary precautions in selecting the right travel partners etc are some of the things women in these industries should certainly push for. I think today there are very few jobs that women cannot do because of physical limitations and those jobs in an innovation or knowledge based economy are becoming fewer in any case.”

She is right in what she says. Organizations need to step up the way they treat their female employees and the facilities they provide. And it is probably up to us to demand for them, although in certain cases, it feels stupid doing so. I am not sure whether any grocery shop owner, out of the 20 shops that I visit on a normal day, would take me seriously me if I were picked and dropped at each place. And very unfair to my male colleagues who do the same job and get the same pay. At the same time, I don’t want to be ‘protected’ all the time. Rather than me always worried about how I will reach home late at night, I want the men on the streets to be afraid of me and the police.

My mother has palpitations when she comes to know I am going to come home late. My father conveniently (and very diplomatically) disappears behind the newspaper when we have a fight, as to why I can’t sneak out from work and go shopping with her. She has come to terms with my job now but she is always worried. I don’t blame her but I wish I could allay her fears and wish for a safe place to live and roam around.

My next question is, “Sometimes, parents seem to be the biggest obstacles to a career when they prevent you from doing things which may not be ‘safe’ but are still important for you to do your job properly. How do girls deal with them?”

“I think we all need to co opt our family members into our careers so that they become equal partners in its success and failure . This can happen only if we discuss everything about our jobs with them and ask for help . I see many young girls today don’t want to tell their parents things in a false sense of protecting their privacy and the poor parents are unable to judge what is required to do a job properly . As parents they will worry about safety and such issues especially with girls. It is the women’s job to allay this fear”, says Apurva Purohit.

‘Lady, you’re not a man’ is an interesting and quite apt title for the book. The title feels like an extremely sarcastic male (or female) telling you that you can’t do shit because you’re not a man.

Apurva Purohit explains, “Through this title I am trying to say two things  1 ) I am telling the women that you don’t have to be male like to succeed and 2) I am equally telling society and people who have often taunted women that you can’t do this because You are not a Man, that we women can do equally well just the same.”

I ask her about the hardest part of writing this book. “I have been used to writing a blog which is actually an exercise in saying the maximum in very few words ( 300-400 words) so actually writing a full chapter around one message  which required  more verbosity without becoming boring was the biggest challenge”, she says.

She has managed that quite well. This book says what it wants to say without boring you. There are enough real life stories, in her witty voice, to make you identify with the woman. What I liked most was that she encourages women not to feel guilty about their life choices, whether you are working or not working, having a baby or choosing not to have one, going to the post office party cum networking event or staying home to look after the ‘home’. We are not superwomen and we don’t need to constantly feel bad about not being able to fulfill everybody’s expectations. At the same time, she asks women to behave like true professionals and not expect to be treated with extra ‘care’ something I agree with. How can we expect to be treated as equals if we demand special privileges (passed on as a result of our conditioning in a patriarchal culture) which are not really required?

I tell Apurva Purohit she’s come a long way. To lighten the Q&A, I ask her if there were to be a movie made on her, who would she cast as herself.

She appears to be humble as she says “I don’t think I have come a long way or anything. I got into leadership roles very early in life and as they say you become competent through practice and 10000 hours of doing something.  Having run organizations or departments for the last twenty odd years has made me good at what I do ! I can’t think of  a film being made on something like this but I like the strong Hollywood actresses like Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon and Sandra Bullock .. so possibly them…”

I ask her what she does in her spare time. “I am very  much a homebody and I like spending as much time as I can at home with my family and some very few close friends. I enjoy reading a lot, specially crime fiction which is my passion, and love travelling. My holidays with my family are my one big luxury and I also have a weakness for heritage jewelry.”

This is where I stop talking about ‘Lady, you’re not a man’. Every time there’s a rape, I feel uncomfortable and disturbed. I can only hope that things will be better one day and we won’t have to feel scared most of the time, irrespective of whether we are doing our jobs or having fun roaming around in the streets. At the same time, a salute to all the women who want to make a change by fighting back, whether it is the 22 year old photojournalist or a friend who ‘accidentally’ gives a whack (I am hoping it was at a place where it hurts the most) with her umbrella to the man who passes by and calls her ‘mast’ (nice). Kudos to all the women who brave the streets every day. A change can only come when we go out into the streets instead of ‘safely’ sitting in our homes.

I am hopeful of a change. Till then, as my friend Hirak keeps telling me, ‘Chin up, be brave, be beautiful!’

(Beauty is often a reflection of what you are feeling inside yourself, not your face or your figure.)

Note: A copy of this book was provided for review by the author/Rupa publications.

‘I’d much rather the book was viewed in its own right’ – An Interview with Samantha Shannon

Very rarely, does a 21 year old manage to get a break in the Literary world. A three book deal (out of a seven book series) with Bloomsbury Publishing is what has shot Samantha Shannon, a student of English language and literature at St. Anne’s College till recently, to sudden fame. Out of all the books releasing in the month of August, the first book of the series, The Bone Season (releasing on 20th August, 2013), seems to be most eagerly awaited by literature lovers around the world. On top of it all, the movie rights to the book have already been bought by Imaginarium Studios. And yet, Samantha has just graduated from College.

Very kindly, Samantha answered some questions in an email interview to Books and a lot more.

Source: The Bone Season Facebook Page

Source: The Bone Season Facebook Page

 “It’s such a huge relief. There was a point at which I was worried I wasn’t going to pass my degree — my mind was often on the book, not my studies — but fortunately I ended up getting the grade I wanted,” said Shannon, on being asked about how it feels to have graduated.

No doubt, she is relieved, having done with graduation and now, she has the release to look forward to. There are also enormous expectations. She had been touted as ‘the next J K Rowling’, even before her books have released.

On being asked about it, Samantha said, “The ‘next JK Rowling’ tag originally came from the similarity of the book deals: seven fantasy books with Bloomsbury. There’s really nothing more to it than that. I don’t think The Bone Season and Harry Potter are particularly similar — I’d much rather the book was viewed in its own right. Besides, why do we need a new JK? The original is wonderful as she is.”

What she says is true. Every book has a right to be viewed as a piece of unique writing. No doubt, The Bone Season promises to be unique and magical. I ask her how her writing was discovered by Bloomsbury.

“The Bone Season got some attention at the London Book Fair 2012; my agent took it there shortly after he took me on as a client. He also sent the manuscript to Alexandra Pringle, who is editor-in-chief at Bloomsbury. Alexandra doesn’t normally publish fantasy, with the exception of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, so when she offered me the deal it was a huge surprise — I couldn’t quite take it in. It’s still overwhelming over a year late”, she replied.

Samantha continues, “It doesn’t really stick to one genre — I just wrote the story I wanted to write, regardless of what I call ‘genre etiquette’. I think boxing books into categories discourages experimentation in fiction.”

The Bone Season, is essentially a series about Paige Mahoney, who works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The year is 2059 and a security force, known as Scion, controls most of the major cities of the world.

The work Paige does is not ordinary. She breaks into the minds of others to look for information. She is what is known as a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and clairvoyants are outlawed in this world. But then she is kidnapped and arrested, and the prison is a separate city-Oxford, not on the map and an otherworldly race known as the Rephaim. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army and Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. If she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

I am curious about the main character, Paige Mahoney. I ask her whether she’s a strong character and if she’s been modeled on somebody in real life.

“No, I didn’t — she’s completely imaginary. Paige came to me very suddenly; her voice just appeared in my head and flowed on the page. She is ‘strong’ in that she’s relatively independent, plucky and has a powerful sense of what she perceives as right and wrong, but she’s also very vulnerable — she has a lot to learn, both about others and about herself. Under all the bravado there’s a young woman who isn’t sure of her place in the world,” says Samantha.

I ask her about her favorite parts of the book.

“I have a few favorite parts, but the one I most liked imagining was when Paige enters a butterfly’s dreamscape. I also really love the dialogue between Warden and Paige. They’re polar opposites in many ways, but it’s one of my great pleasures to write the interaction between them. “

I wanted to know about her, what made her tick. “If I’m not writing I’m usually reading. I’m very book-orientated”, she says.

It’s not easy to be a published writer by the age of twenty-one. Many people harbor a dream of writing a book someday but never really sit down and write. Instead, they wait for that ‘perfect’ moment when a great plot line will strike and words will automatically flow. Some who do write, lose heart when publishers do not think the writing is worthy enough to be published.

Samantha advises, “Don’t be afraid to experiment, be open to constructive criticism, and most importantly, don’t give up at the first hurdle.”

Now that she is free from college and studying, Samantha has already started work on Book 2 of the series.

She informs, “I’m working on Book 2 in the series at the moment. I want to give my full attention to The Bone Season and its sequels for the foreseeable future, but I do have a couple of other ideas for novels up my sleeve — but I’m unlikely to write them until after this series is complete. “

It looks like we’ll have to wait a while for those other ideas from this talented writer. But thankfully, we have a whole new series from her to look forward to and devour!

If this interview with Samantha Shannon is not enough for you and you want to know more about her, you can follow her on Twitter (@say_shannon) or on her blog. Her Pinterest page is also quite interesting, with information about her characters in the book!

The Bone Season, releases on 20th August, 2013. Check out the trailer of the book below:

You can also pre-order the book using the links below: