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New non-fictions are simplifying realities for drawing room talk

Delhi,Art/Culture/Books, Sat, 24 Mar 2012 IANS

New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) Drawing-room flavoured - that's the buzzword among non-fiction writers this season as they go in for brevity, easy and interesting reads on subjects as complex as India's growth story and even foreign policy.


To rope in more young readers between 21 and 35 years, writers are using common examples from school book history, smart phrases and relating it to the realities around us.



Writer Amit Chaudhuri says his new non-fiction, 'Calcutta', is an impressionistic biography of the city of Kolkata and its transforming ethos through a series of relatable essays that comment on the city during the time of change from one government to another between 2001-2011.



Tearing down of old houses is one such reality. 'One home was torn down by promoters and the windows were stacked on the pavement. I thought I should buy one of these,' the Kolkata-based writer said offering insight into one of the essays in his book.



Chaudhuri's 'window shopping' experience becomes a portrait of Kolkata's tenuous link with its crumbling colonial heritage. In one essay, the green French windows become a journey to explore the city's past - the old European-style buildings, the derelict Chinsurah-Chandanagore colonial townships and even the fabled Chinsurah oils (religious paintings) which is a dead tradition.



The Chinsurah oils, which very few people know of, now find pride of place in editor and arts connoisseur Aveek Sarkar's home.



'It sounds gripping and kind of surreal... but easy to understand,' a 21-year-old student of English literature at Delhi University told IANS during Chaudhuri's recent book reading session here.



Writer and parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor says his new book, 'Pax Indica' (Pax India) slated to be published in June tries to engage minds who 'like having intelligent foreign policy conversations in their drawing rooms'.



'My aim was not to write a mighty tome,' Tharoor said at a book reading event.



Tharoor, a former minister of state for external affairs, explains that his book is 'about India's place in the 21st century... it's coming of age' and what kind of foreign policy India should have with countries like Pakistan, China and the smaller neighbours.



'India's relations with neighbours have been poorly managed. Pangs of proximity afflict each of them in their relationship with India... we need to look forward to a inter-collective South Asian future,' he said, pointing out the changing trends in India's place in South Asia with the melting of several barriers.



'Foreign policy is of immense importance to students of politics and international relations,' Nikhil Kalra, a 23-year-old student of political science in a Delhi University college, who was present at the book reading at India Habitat Centre, said later.



Writer-commentator Gurcharan Das's yet-to-be published new book 'India Grows at Night' is an engaging study of the county's growth and the inherent dichotomies in the shining India story. 'My book explains the private success and public failures,' the writer said at the book reading forum. 'India's success is bottom up whereas China's success is top down success,' he said, summing it up for a young audience.



Young writer Palash Krishna Mehrotra in his new book, 'The Butterfly Generation', paints the portrait of young India, between 21 and 35, that is gradually moving away from the old order.



'We are without doubt the international pioneers of a new genre: sit-down rock 'n' roll... This is a generation that finds many things about the family, religion and community stifling and silly,' Mehrotra says.



William Dalrymple is bringing back a slice of sub-continental history and the beginning of the great game of espionage in the Himalayan region is his racy non-fiction, 'The Return of the King: Shah Shuja and the First Anglo-Afghan War' - a retelling of history with a difference, according to critics.



A biography, 'Rajnikath' by film producer and critic Naman Ramachandran will be unveiled on 12.12.12 - on the actor's birthday. The biography has followed Rajni's rise to superstardom with never-before-seen photographs and anecdotes.



A new book, 'Sufi Courtyards: Dargahs of Delhi' by Sadia Dehlvi is a journey through the small Sufi shrines in the capital for youngsters.



'The readership is expanding exponentially everyday and we have to meet the demands with more volumes in every segment, especially for young readers. There is greater cultural variety in non-fiction now,' Udayan Mitra, managing editor at Penguin India, told IANS.


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