On the (book)shelf

Titles available at Books n Beans (Lahore) or through www.vanguardbooks.com

On the (book)shelf

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Hilary Mantel
Fourth Estate [hardback], 2014
PRs 995

A brilliant and transgressive collection of short stories from the double Man Booker Prize-winning author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Hilary Mantel is one of Britain’s most accomplished and acclaimed writers. In these ten bracingly subversive tales, all her gifts of characterization and observation are fully engaged, summoning forth the horrors so often concealed behind everyday facades. Childhood cruelty is played out behind the bushes in “Comma”, nurses clash in “Harley Street” over something more than professional differences, and in the title story, staying in for the plumber turns into an ambiguous and potentially deadly waiting game. Whether set in a claustrophobic Saudi Arabian flat or on a precarious mountain road in Greece, these stories share an insight into the darkest recesses of the spirit. Displaying all of Mantel’s unmistakable style and wit, they reveal a great writer at the peak of her powers
What people are saying: “The tone is at once droll and terrifying; Mantel is playing around with the theme of choices or doors that people walk through in life; she’s also explicitly venting her rage at Thatcher. That she manages to do all this – juggle the metaphorical meditations and political commentary in a darkly comic short story – is breathtaking” (NPR Books).

Iqbal: The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician

Zafar Anjum
Random House India [hardback], 2014
PRs 995

Allama Mohammad Iqbal, whom Sarojini Naidu called the ‘Poet laureate of Asia’, remains a controversial figure in the history of the Indian subcontinent. On the one hand, he is considered the ‘Spiritual Father of Pakistan’. On the other, his message of Eastern revivalism places him in the ranks of the twentieth century’s major intellectuals. Iqbal’s tragedy was that after his death, he was made the national poet of Pakistan and largely ignored in India. In his time, he was lauded as much as Tagore, but today India celebrates Tagore while Iqbal has been banished from her consciousness.
This meticulously researched biography will redress that erasure. This is the story of Iqbal’s evolution as a poet, philosopher and politician. While his role in the struggle for India’s freedom and the Pakistan movement are well known, not much is known about his personal life. This book highlights some of the least known facets of the poet’s life: how did a nationalist poet transform into a poet of Islamic revivalism and global revolution? How did three years in Europe change Iqbal’s political and philosophical outlook? Why did he start writing in Persian during his stay in Europe? Why did his first marriage fail and how did his romantic relationships affect him? What exactly was the poet’s role in bringing about Partition? Written with the passion of an ardent devotee, Zafar Anjum’s Iqbal answers all of these questions – and many more – in this carefully told biography.

The Age of Wrath: A History of the Delhi Sultanate

Abraham Eraly
Penguin Books (Viking) [hardback], 2014
PRs 1,395

From Abraham Eraly, the acclaimed author of three books on Indian history (including The Last Spring: The Lives and Times of The Great Mughals), comes an invigorating portrayal of a fascinating period of South Asian history. The Delhi Sultanate period (1206–1526) is commonly portrayed as an age of chaos and violence, of rapacious, plundering kings, turbulent dynasties, and the aggressive imposition of Islam on India. But it was also the era that saw the creation of a pan-Indian empire, on the foundations of which the Mughals and the British later built their own Indian empires.
The encounter between Islam and Hinduism also transformed, among other things, India’s architecture, literature, music and food. Eraly brings this period vividly alive, portraying the many kings – mad, brilliant, astute, and cruel – who ruled during this period, and discussing the political, social and cultural developments that transformed India. Combining erudition with powerful storytelling, analysis with anecdote, The Age of Wrath is a superb book.
What people are saying: “In the liberal ways of the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughals lie a few lessons for us today. Some of them having been just brought home by Eraly through a book that is engrossing, enlightening” (The Hindu).

Jim Corbett of Kumaon

D C Kala
Penguin Books and Ravi Dayal [paperback], 2009
PRs 495

Jim Corbett (1875–1955) was born in Naini Tal and spent most of his life in the hills of Kumaon. He is considered a hero for keeping the forested area intact and tracking and killing man-eating leopards. Jim Corbett of Kumaon, the first extended biography of the great man, was originally published in 1979 and remains an important and pioneering source book. It evokes Corbett’s life and world with unrivalled knowledge and authenticity, perhaps because the author too belonged to the mountains of Kumaon and Garhwal so loved by Corbett. This revised edition will be widely welcomed by a new generation of readers.