Book Reviews

Author: Subhash Sethi;
Publisher: Viva Books
(Pp 214, ISBN 978-81-309-1771-9, Rs 495)

Pages from My Life - A Publisher’s Autobiography by Subhash Sethi is story of evolution of a victim of partition of India from a salesman in a publishing house to become a cynosure of Indian publishing by being secretary for about seven terms and viagra lowest prices its president for fourteen terms of premier professional body- Federation of Publishers and Booksellers’ Association of India.

Great trials are necessary to prepare for great duties; in case of the author trials began when he was in the lap of his mother. The book begins with his memories of ‘Trials and Tribulations.’ The author reminiscences that he was barely able to talk and walk when the ‘sharp sword of partition fell’ upon the family. The pages recounts the circumstances where the author and his family had to undergo the suffering, his father jumping from the running train to save himself from the rioters who had entered the compartment and were killing people. He got multiple injuries and subsequently the family reunited in a refugee camp. Subhash has successfully aroused the sensation of pity and use fear and has succeeded in arousing emotions.

Pages From My Life is also a story of a publisher who has worked on a very wide canvas, having spent over fifty years of his life serving selflessly and with dedication for the betterment of the publishing industry. The journey of the author through this period if full of experiments and achievements. While genius and literary mastery are rare, Subhash Sethi has mastered both. Every event described moves like a kaleidoscope as if you are not reading but watching the incidents happening in front of your eyes.

A common perception about a publisher at large is that he is a shrewd businessman. This autobiography will change the perception as here is a publisher who always believes in counting his blessings. Subhash Sethi says that, “God has been kind enough to me and today I am blessed with choicest of clothes. But the importance of clothes bestowed on me as reward during my college days remains unmatched, unappalled.” (p17)

A special feature of the book is that it is not a chronological account of one’s life and achievements. Here each chapter deals with a different experience and brings out various facets of his personality. A man of strong convictions always listened to his conscience. When he started his own publishing house, he had touched sixty.

His faith in God almighty and his sincere love and appreciation for family members only exhibit that besides being a worldly person he is thoroughly a spiritual man. This trait of the author is effectively portrayed in two chapters on his family and his disease.

The chapter ‘Hello, Young Men’ is full of advice to the budding publishers when he says that, “The publishing industry is meant for those who have patience and are prepared to work hard”. (p154). Profusely illustrated with pictures from his college days to meeting with Indian dignitaries enhance the archival value of the book. The chapter on ‘Partners and Friends Speak’ gives a glimpse of high esteem the publishing fraternity has held Subhash Sethi.

The book also has a lot to learn for younger generation of publishers. Publishing industry is meant for those who have patience and are prepared to work hard, for it is not a cake walk. The shortest definition of philosophy is to ‘see things through’. The message is study yourself and introspect, observe your actions, realize your fault and topics appraise your virtue. His message to the upcoming publishers is enshrined in the last chapter “My Philosophy of Life” which accentuates the importance of training, motivation, attitude management coupled with quality management, the art of decision making at the right time are the guiding stars of achieving high goals. Profusely illustrated, the work is the result of persuasion of his industry friends who prompted him to write down his ‘five decade journey in publishing industry’.

Autobiographies let you think, feel, act and experience as the author, through his first hand narration of his own powerful life story. As you read the autobiography, you get closer to the author. The truth is this autobiography is so much easier to tune in with the thoughts and feelings of the author. A dedicated reading of the Pages from My Life is going to open your mind to a new direction leading to believe that here is a publisher with a heart of gold.

- GS Jolly

Author: Roger R. Hale
Publisher: KW Publishers PvLtd
(Pp 277, ISBN 9789386288165, Rs 395)

The book is an addition to Roger’s earlier series Three Chinese Travelers in India released in 2016. The story revolves around Brenda Wong, who balances her career and studies consistently. She has also been balancing a narrow line of responsibility by managing kids as well as her career. She strives to become a perfect mother, wife, and daughter.

Brenda migrates from Cupertino in California to an Indian south city, Bangalore due to her husband’s Milton’s job requirements. After a course of 3 years, they return to their origin place California where she gets a letter offering her a golden opportunity to attend the most prestigious institutions of the USA, Department of Art History at the University of California at Berkeley. Brenda in her phase on the South Indian land has developed a sense of fascination for those age-old immaculate designs of Indian temples. So, how will Brenda manage her life – that’s what the book is all about.

Beautifully written, the book will be inspiring to many women who do not know how to balance their hectic lives.

Author: D.H Rajan
Publisher: Unistar Books Pvt Ltd
(Pp 368, ISBN 8189899201, Rs 495)

Here’s a mysterious book, which is full of thrill, where the protagonist Deepak Kanchan keeps changing his vice, who is addicted to gambling and infidelity. Sonali, wife of Deepak, catches him red handed while chilling out with her neighbor Shelly. Ashamed of his deeds, Deepak leaves house and disappears into thin air. Adding more climaxes to the story, the same night, a triple murder was commited in Mumbai and the police found Deepak’s finger prints at the crime scene. As the story forwards, more interesting cast get into the story making it meaty and entertaining, revolving around Deepak and Sonali.

As Sonali continues her life ahead, she encounters Keith Johnson, an affluent man from Bangalore. He totally baffles Sonali by showing an utter confidence by proposing her, however Sonali on the other hand fall in paradox if he was the same Deepak who has approached her again after being disguised. Was he the same guy to whom he knotted years before? If he is not then who was he?

The tale is so gripping that you will not put it down before you know what happens in the end. A well-woven thriller for all!

Architectural Splendor, Spiritual Bliss
Author: Avey Varghese; Publisher: Niyogi Books
(Pp 520, ISBN 978-93-85285-37-0, Rs 2000)

One look at the book and you are bound to pick it up. The book is a complete package that is interesting, useful and informative. The photographs showcase not only the deities in the temples, but also the sculptures, paintings and architecture inside the Divya Desams. This pictorial journey into ancient architecture and the art of temple construction and sculpture with interesting trivia, is sure to take your breath away.

Beautifully produced, the book is a treat for the eyes. Every page is adorned with a beautiful picture of the temple, with wholesome information on the temples’ history, architectural brilliance, art forms, rituals, beliefs and landscapes. The temple legend, deity positions and other significant mythical specifications are also built into the text.

The book is aimed at connoisseurs of art, architecture and literature and will be cherished by adults as well as children, who wish to know more about our religious past.

Author: Munshi Premchand, Screenplay: Gulzar
Publisher: The Lotus Collection, Roli Books, New Delhi;
(ISBN 978-93-5194-105-7, Rs 795)

When we talk of Indian literature, we cannot fail to remember the writings of Munshi Premchand. Packaged beautifully, this two-book set is a treasure for all literature enthusiasts. The stories are realistic, focusing on the problems of the poor and urban middle class. Gulzar also needs no introduction. His screenplay has added charm to the whole script.

Written beautifully, these evergreen stories have come to life again. Set in a village in Uttar Pradesh, Godaan is the story of misfortunes of a poor farmer, who has his heart set on buying a cow but his life gets entangled in the web of debts and circumstances that never lets him come out of the throes of caste segregation and exploitation in an unequal society. Written more than eighty years ago, this classic adaptation by Gulzar is still relevant and brings to fore the fact that for the farmer or a labour in rural India, things are still the same.

The second book in the twin pack is a screenplay of Nirmala & Other Stories. Nirmala is about a young girl, who marries a widower. But, problem arises when the man sees his bride very friendly with his son, who is of the same age as her. All the stories are heart-warming and leave a lasting impression on the readers.