Archive for ‘Book Nerds’

October 5, 2015

Invisible Threads

Invisible Threads

Former investment banker turned psychiatrist, Lucy Beresford will be at Asia House on 6th October (evening) discussing her book, Invisible Threads a fictional book drawing on the author’s experiences in India.

Although a fictional book, Lucy did a sabbatical at a clinic in Delhi and was introduced to women coming from desperate, violent

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September 30, 2015

Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years

AS Dulat Kashmir The Vajpayee Years Launch LondonThe truth can be elastic as it sometimes depends upon the perspective and knowledge of the person making the claim, however, Mr A S Dulat, formerly the head of India’s intelligence agency (Research & Analysis Wing) can perhaps claim to know the truth more than most of us. Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years by A S Dulat was launched in London last week at a lovely event at the Taj St James’ Court with guest of honour, Dr Farooq Abdullah (former Chief Minister of Kashmir, the Indian side).

It was a packed event with people standing at the back of the room. I had encouraged Mr Dulat to launch his book in London and as adorably humble as ever, he said ‘who would want to come to that?’ Loads of people was my reply! A couple of months later and there we were celebrating.

Kashmir is a well known and forever difficult subject for Indians and Pakistanis and often the

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September 5, 2015

Do It Like A Woman

Do It Like A Woman Caroline Criado Perez

The last event I attended on the final day of the Edinburgh International Book Festival was an event centred around feminism: In Praise of Pioneering Women by Caroline Criado-Perez.  Caroline was catapulted into media attention after she started the campaign to put an inspirational woman on the £5 note.  Her campaign led to her being viciously trolled on social media and subsequently the Crown

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September 5, 2015

Meera Syal at The Edinburgh International Book Festival

Meera Syal House of Hidden Mothers

Poor Meera Syal, the expectations were so high from the audience around me and indeed myself that she would be incredibly sharp and witty and have us in stitches that once the discussion started and it became clear that it was all about surrogacy and motherhood (the main subjects her fictional book centres around) we were a little disappointed.

Of course Meera should want to promote her new book, The House of Hidden Mothers, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just not

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August 27, 2015

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Bidisha & Mohammed Osborne

Yasmin Alibhai Brown and Bidisha

For a few seconds, time stopped and the audience dropped a collective jaw as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown asked if we knew that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s brother was a Muslim convert, Mohammed Osborne. No we didn’t! But…but… how did that happen?

exotic_england_ Yasmin Alibhai Brown

It was a sell out session with the charismatic journalist and writer,

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August 23, 2015

The Challenge of Things, A C Grayling

AC Grayling The Challenge of Things

Professor of Philosophy, A C Grayling gave a wonderful presentation of essays yesterday afternoon at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. His new book is a collection of essays of a variety of subjects quite like in the ‘pre-novel’ era when essays were highly regarded.

An example of of one of his adapted essays: In the future would developing countries look to China as a model for development rather that the West and democracy? The Chinese model works well

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August 22, 2015

Forensic Science with the C.S.Aye Team

Val McDermid

Without the snazzy graphics and collagen-filled lips of the real C.S.I. the totally fabulous C.S.Aye team consisted of internationally acclaimed crime writer, Val McDermid and forensics expert extraordinaire, Niamh Nic Daeid who often appears on BBC Radio 4 to explain forensic science to the general public with ease and she was interviewed for the wonderful Life Scientific programme.

The hour in their company at the Edinburgh International Book Festival event flew by and it was full of fascinating information about a world that most of us are rarely touched by but nonetheless find

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August 20, 2015

Why Did Europe Conquer The World?

Why did Europe conquer the world

In 1914, 84% of the world was under colonial rule from a European nation. Quite an achievement considering that Europe makes approximately 8% of the world’s land mass. These were some of the attention-grabbing opening lines of economic historian, Philip T Hoffman’s event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

How did that happen?

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August 18, 2015

Mecca, The Sacred City?

Mecca the Sacred City by Ziauddin Sardar

Ziauddin Sardar at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015

I arrived at the Edinburgh International Book Festival today for my first book event of this year’s packed programme, brolly in hand and wearing two layers of cashmere. Yes, it is August, welcome to Summer in Scotland.

Ziauddin Sardar’s new book, Mecca The Sacred City was the topic of discussion and the charismatic author was full of hilarious anecdotes and opinions of Saudi Arabia that mirror my own. Of course, unlike him, I’m not a respected scholar nor have I spent time living there.

It is in the direction of Mecca and the Ka’aba that all Muslims turn to when (or if) they pray. Mecca is the birth place of the Prophet and pilgrimage to the Ka’aba is one of the five pillars of Islam, a duty for all Muslims. So why do the guardians of the holiest sites in the Islamic behave like ‘cultural terrorrists’? Ziauddin Sardar is no fan of

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May 18, 2015

Dispatches from the Kabul Cafe with Heidi Kingstone

Dispatches-Kabul

As the Asia House Lit Festival draws to an end, A personal highlight for me was to hear Heidi Kingstone in conversation with Jemima Steinfeld. Both women have written accounts of working abroad and in this conversation we were treated to Heidi’s memories of being a war correspondent in Afghanistan and a reading from her new book, Dispatches from the Kabul Cafe.

Heidi began by explaining the phenomenon, Kabubble, which arose

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May 5, 2015

The Ninth Asia House Lit Festival

UK writer Hanif Kureishi in conversation with Razia Iqbal about new book 'The Last Word'Razia Iqbal is BBC Special Correspondent and presenter of Talking Books. Headline event for opening night of Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival @ Asia Ho

Hanif Kureishi in conversation with Razia Iqbal from last year’s festival.

London’s incredible Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival begins this week – don’t worry, you still have time to get a ticket as it runs from 7 – 18 May.

The line up is as impressive and diverse as ever and launches on 7 May with the acclaimed author Xue Xinran who will be celebrating the release of her new book, Buy Me the Sky. Xinran will be discussing the new generation of China which is such a fascinating topic, we can’t wait to attend.

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June 30, 2014

The White Tiger

The White TigerTigers are synonymous with India to the point of boredom.  It is my irrational rejection of tiger references in literature that led me to ignore The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga for years.  Man Booker Prize winner? Meh, so what, I thought, it’s probably full of quaint stereotypes from cover to cover.

I’d forgotten about it entirely until a friend recently recommended it to me and then I happened to find a copy on my bookshelf (not by magic my sister must have bought it).  Well, quite simply: I loved it.  I loved the style of writing, the perspective it is written from, the observational humour is wicked and I loved reading about Delhi (currently my third home city). 

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May 13, 2014

Pakistan: Literary Treasure Trove

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Kamila Shamsie at Asia House

Last week Bunty and I spent the evening at Asia House for the continuing literature festival sponsored by the Bagri Foundation. The festival is on until 21st May and there are still many wonderful events to attend! www.asiahouse.org and follow on twitter @asiahouseuk @festofasianlit

Multi award winning writer, Kamila Shamsie was the star of the evening and new writer, Omar Shahid Hamid was introduced and interviewed in Extra Words, a new segment created by Asia House to focus on new talent at the festival.

Kamila was asked all about her new book, A God in Every Stone (I’m reading my signed copy, review to follow asap!). Breathtaking in scope from

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May 10, 2014

Life And Laughter With A Diplomatic Wife

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Author Brigid Keenan is a charming, witty writer who knows exactly how to recall a lifetime of wonderful and disastrous events as the trailing wife of a diplomat.  I read her book Diplomatic Baggage after meeting Brigid at a dinner party one evening in London. We created instant warmth as we exchanged stories of India.

Packing Up – Further Adventures of A Trailing Spouse is Brigid Keenan’s latest book about her life in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Palestine.

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May 9, 2014

The Last Word: Hanif Kureishi

UK writer Hanif Kureishi in conversation with Razia Iqbal about new book 'The Last Word'Razia Iqbal is BBC Special Correspondent and presenter of Talking Books. Headline event for opening night of Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival @ Asia Ho

Hanif Kureishi with Razia Iqbal Photography by Nick Cunard http://www.nickcunard.co.uk

A superstar author never shy of sharing his opinion, Hanif Kureishi opened the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival with an evening full of laughter and delight.  The writer was interviewed by BBC special correspondent Razia Iqbal who effortlessly kept her own presence on stage and steered the discussion that gave interesting insights into the way Hanif writes, his life and opinions.

The evening began with Hanif Kureishi reading an excerpt from The Last word, his latest novel about a young English

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April 19, 2014

Free Women

the golden notebook

I just finished reading Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook.  It is a wonderfully bold book charting, amongst other important events and cultural/social changes, the freedom of women.

Free to have careers, sex and their own opinions it is set during the evolutionary stage of female emancipation that we, women of today, can relate to even though the book is set from the 1930s onwards.  This was a groundbreaking novel when it was published in 1962 and I would say it still strikes a chord today. 

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March 23, 2014

Asia House Literature Festival 2014

asia house litfest

The Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival is back in May and what a programme they have in store! The Chatterjis Blog will cover the event as official bloggers for the festival which includes writers from over 17 different Asian countries.  In addition to a regular festival format a new series, Extra Words will introduce debut authors from Pakistan, Nepal and Thailand.

the last word

The festival officially opens on 6th May with high profile writer, Hanif Kureishi who will talk about his new book The Last Word.  There are a few pre-festival events in April that sound fabulous too.  On 10th April there is an event called Separations discussing what happens when a country suffers from political divisions.  Featuring Korean writers Kyung-sook Shin (2011 Man Asia Prize winner) and Krys Lee and Pakistani writer Qaisra Shahraz whose work focuses on women and partition it should be a lively evening.  Why Do Indians Vote? Democracy in India is another pre-festival

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January 31, 2014

The Penultimate Truth

The Penultimate Truth Philip K Dick

Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick had a visionary imagination far beyond his generation.  If  Sci-Fi isn’t a genre you’re interested in The Penultimate Truth might be a good book to dip your toe into.

I am a card carrying Sci-Fi fan (you’d never guess looking at me!) as I feel it opens up a parallel universe for the human imagination to explore and wonder, frequently laying the foundation to inspire scientists or technology experts to catch up.  Published in 1964,

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January 26, 2014

The Pursuit of Love

The Pursuit of Love Nancy Mitford

I started reading Nancy Mitford and took an interest in her after hearing about her on the BBC Radio 4 Great Lives programme.  She sounded so wonderfully witty, sharp and unsentimental that I decided to buy a few of her books.

The Pursuit of Love is a as much as finding love as it is about celebrating the love that an extended family can bring. If you are lucky enough

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November 28, 2013

Home by Toni Morrison

home toni morrison

Like many bloggers, I am a closet novelist. Ah yes, that theory that we all have within us one great story. I can write! I am interesting! Funny, dramatic, sensational. First I will win the Costa book awards and then Booker to prove I’m not winning just because I am of the gentler sex (ha!)

Then, I read something by Toni Morrison and my god, will she metaphorically dedicatedly superliciously crap all over that fantasy.

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November 13, 2013

Platform by Michel Houellebecq

platform
Well it’s been a long time since I read such crap. I’m not an avid reader of the french novel or peruser of their “great” cinema but apart from a few notable classics (in French but not necessarily from France, Camus coming to mind) I’ve always had a narrow-minded notion that The French are inherently sexist and it won’t wash well with me.
I know beauty is subjective but when Depardieu is cast alongside Audrey Tatou a little piece of me sighs in that awful way I used to when

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May 29, 2013

The Case Against God

the_god_argument a c grayling

I have only been starstruck twice. Once was when I walked alongside David Beckham and my wonderful friend Darren pushed me slightly into him. The second was last night at the Southbank Centre when I went to see the eminent philosopher Prof AC Grayling discuss his new book, The God Argument.  I would happily marry them both (although Becks mate, you will have to promise not to open your mouth).

What an incredible person Grayling is – to harbour such a brain that tackles the greatest metaphysical problems of our time, he has the impossibly rare talent of being able to speak to us, his audience, in such terms that has us laughing from beginning to end.

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May 15, 2013

The Forty Rules Of Love

forty rules of love elif shafak

I just finished reading The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.  The author is one of the high profile names that participated in this year’s Asia House Festival of Asian Literature.

This is the first book I have read by Elif Shafak and I was drawn to it as I read the back cover and saw three words: Sufi, Rumi and Shams…sold!!  This book is like Kryptonite for my sister full of spirituality and love.

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May 8, 2013

Asia House Festival of Asian Literature

fal_banner__gallery_image

Freedom is the theme of this year’s Asia House Festival of Asian Literature, the seventh annual event. From 7-22nd May, some of Asia’s greatest literary exports will join some of the best British Asian writers and thinkers to discuss freedom in all its forms: freedom of expression, education, travel, justice, freedom to read the truth and to live in our chosen ways.

Taking place in a few venues in Central London the programme and events for adults and children is varied and wonderfully diverse.  Want to know how to get your work published in Asia or the UK? Want to see a curry demonstration from Michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar?

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May 8, 2013

Opening Night With Michael Palin

Michael Palin John Swannell

The Asia House Festival of Asian Literature got off to a roaring start by hosting an audience with the wonderfully charming Michael Palin at the Commonwealth Club, London.

Palin was launching a new book, The Truth, excitingly his first foray into fiction. The audience, however, were keen to grill him about his travels. He handled everyone’s question with the same wit and eloquence that we are used to seeing on screen, even though surely he must have been asked some of these questions thousands of times.  Palin had us all captivated

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May 4, 2013

Guest Post: Asia House Literature Festival

The Bastard of Istanbul Elif Shafak

Women, Freedom and the Islamic World

The diversity and eloquence of this all-female panel gave a fascinating insight into what female freedom means in Muslim states today

By Hannah Thompson

Asia House is no stranger to distinguished figures discussing complex issues, and this, the second event in this year’s Festival of Asian Literature, was no exception.

Although technically a pre-event (the festival proper begins on May 7th, with guest Michael Palin, no less) the guests were just as renowned and the topic just as wide as if a central element of the festival itself. Women, freedom and the Islamic world – one could hardly have chosen a more expansive, nebulous discussion, and yet the writers on the panel addressed the idea with characteristic thoughtfulness and poise.

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Chaired and led by journalist and presenter Samira Ahmed, the panel included Turkish author Elif Shafak (The Bastard of Istanbul; Honour), Iraqi political activist and author Haifa Zangana (Dreaming of Baghdad) and Iranian journalist and self-professed “memoirist” Kamin Mohammadi (The Cypress Tree).

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April 18, 2013

50 Shades of Feminism

fifty shades of feminism book cover

At work we are all reading 50 Shades of Feminism – less than £10 and in hardback (unless you prefer Kindle) so get your copy asap, you will love it.  I would recommend this book particularly if like me, you have a short commute to work and love to read little bite-size nuggets of delightfully well-written essays.

This book is written by 50 authors, young and old, and from all different backgrounds

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December 16, 2012

Mansfield Park

mansfield park

Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s least likeable books amongst die hard Austen fans.   I only decided to re-read Mansfield Park as it was the first Jane Austen book I saw on my bookshelf.  I have a guilty confession that I am suffering from period drama withdrawal symptoms ever since series three of Downton Abbey ended (over all it was pretty awful I hope there won’t be a series four).

The main character, Fanny Price, at once invokes sympathy and hatred and frustration.  What a reaction towards a fictional character, such is Jane Austen’s skill! 

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August 28, 2012

Red Heat: Consipiracy, Murder and the Cold War in the Caribbean

This wonderful book on political history by acclaimed author, Alex Von Tunzelmann (interviewed last year for the Chatterjis Hall of Fame) is set at a cracking pace like a thriller except, unfortunately for a certain part of the world, these events actually took place.

The USA, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and their past and present leaders are the central characters.  The author charts the rise of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, the glamorous ladies man

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August 14, 2012

Fifty Shades…..Too Many

Well I just wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Fastest selling paperback of all time selling 40 million copies worldwide, UK’s top 5 best selling book of all time and everyone’s talking about it. There will even be an adaptation to film.

Have you read E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey? What did you think?

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July 3, 2012

The Great Gatsby

Classic literature has always been a thorn in my side. I love modern literature and have often shied away from the wordy and lengthy writing as well as the endurance that comes with classics.

So recently, I took it upon myself to start wading through my list of classic books that I want to read before the big 40, starting with “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925.

Normally, I can read a book within days, but this took me 6 weeks to read…….

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February 7, 2012

Happy 200th Birthday Dahls Chickens

Dahls Chickens is, of course, the way that the lovely Big Friendly Giant refers to Charles Dickens which still makes me smile.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Charles Dickens and what better way to celebrate than to READ him!  If you are a beginner, may I please recommend Great Expectations, which has all the language, character and mood of a Dickens book to set you up to becoming a fan.

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January 25, 2012

Satanic Publicity Machine

It’s been hard to get away from all the Salman Rushdie news for more than a week now.  The infamous author was due to appear at the Jaipur Literature Festival and decided not to attend at the last minute due to threats on his life which were subsequently discredited.

The fuss created by Salman’s author friends spilled into hysterical in my opinion. 

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January 17, 2012

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Agatha Christie is always in vogue (even now, her books are being serialised in the UK with fortnightly magazines detailing the plots, characters and Christie’s life). But have you actually read her work?

We all love watching Suchet as Hercule Poirot and indeed, he stars in my recommended book to you, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which is widely considered to be Christie’s finest work.

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January 12, 2012

McBooks From McDonald’s

I didn’t know the sad statistic that one in three children in the UK do not own a book.  Whether this is due to poverty or parents such as Victoria Beckham who famously does not read is unknown but help is coming from an unlikely corner: McDonald’s.

From now until 7th February

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December 21, 2011

Confessions Of A GP

If you are looking for a light hearted read that gives insight into the world of GP’s, Benjamin Daniels’ book, Confessions of a GP is worth a read.

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December 8, 2011

The Dispossessed

What is about South Asians and science fiction?  They just don’t get it.  I cannot believe that there is anyone alive that doesn’t love Star Wars (Empire Strikes Back is my favourite).  How can you possibly not be excited by Captain Picard’s adventures through space on the Enterprise?  And don’t get me started about Dune, which I not only loved reading as a child but also loved watching David Lynch’s film adaptation with a young  Kyle MacLachlan.  Now, we obviously get into more respectable territories

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November 13, 2011

A Lovely Conversation

A lovely conversation between Kiran and Anita Desai was published in last week’s Guardian and I wanted to share it with you.

I have the Desai collection and have enjoyed the books, so am looking forward to Anita Desai’s new book “The Artist of Disappearance”.

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October 13, 2011

A Rage in Harlem

This book opens with a scene where our hero is “raising” 10 dollar bills by turning them into 100 dollar bills.  “Poppycock!”, I thought aged 16 when I first attempted to read this book (well, the Scottish equivalent of poppycock, anyway).

Having been forced to give the book another chance by my sister I can confirm what a joy it is to have read “A Rage in Harlem” by Chester Himes.  The characters, dialogue and scenes are magnificent to read in a New York drawl. 

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October 7, 2011

South Asian Literature Festival

Apologies for the London-centric post but the South Asian Lit Fest begins tomorrow with a great line up of authors, discussions and events from tomorrow 8 October all the way to 24 October.

I was going to go to Scotland on Monday but will now stick around

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