Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 in Books

Yeah it's 2007! A whole new year of halcyon days where I am curled up with a goodish pile of great reads and a few (very few) dark chocolate bars -- that's the sum of my new year resolution and ambition. :) Hmm, maybe I am the bookworm the husband calls me. Maybe.

But before one moves on to a new and exciting literary year, I'd really like to note down my Top 3 favorite reads of 2006. All fiction, of course, though I have begun making some rather gradual forays into non -- which was my 2006 new year resolution. (I really liked "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer on Mormon fundamentalism.)

OK. Without further ado, here they are:

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Yikes, I just checked the copyright page and realized that this book was first published in hardcover in 2003! So this is hardly a new book. The story is Amir's divided in three parts: his childhood in pre-Taliban Afghanistan; his coming-of-age in America, where he fled with his father after the Russians occupied Kabul; and finally, Amir's middle age in 2001 in California and Taliban-ruled Kabul. Hosseini imparts a freshness to the age-old themes of love and betrayal and redemption by setting them in the backdrop of a Kabul that's unfamiliar to most of us. A timeless tale poetically wrought that rends your heart. This one squeezed out quite a few tears.

2. Ravan and Eddie by Kiran Nagarkar
This one came out in 1995. Sigh, I know, late discovery. But I absolutely LOVED this book and am sold on Nagarkar. Can't wait to see what else he's written before and since. Found this one during my last Mumbai trip, but I am sure I can find more on Amazon. Cutting to the chase: this is a satirical take on the bawdy crazy chawl life of Mumbai and mostly focuses on the adventures of prepubescent Ravan, a Maratha Hindu, and Eddie, a Catholic. The tale commences when 1-year-old Ram falls from a chawl balcony. Eddie's dad, Victor, who was busy checking out Ram's mom's bosom, catches the little boy, but dies instantly, thereby causing Ram's name change to Ravan. Watching the scenario enfold, Victor's heavily pregnant wife goes into labor and Eddie's born. Fun start, hah? Unputdownable.

3. five point someone by Chetan Bhagat.
I swear I read a lot of nondesi authors last year. Guess I just liked the desi ones better. This is another fun book that I picked up in India reciting the trials and tribulations of three students trying to survive the experience that's IIT. Hostel life, friendship, love, cafeteria food, all comes under hilarious scrutiny. But the book also spotlights an academic culture that prizes cramming and unquestioning obedience above originality and curiosity.

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