ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 23, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 43

Best book bites

Book Review with Vijitha Yapa bookshops

A boy begins to write his brother Ben a letter. But this seemingly ordinary communication is made extraordinary by its content. The letter contains the strange and wondrous tale of this boy himself, beginning with how, as a young man, a veritable teenager, he is transported from our world to the magical realm of Mythgarthr, the middle of seven fantastic worlds.

Transformed into a grown man of heroic proportions, he is dubbed Abel. Still a boy at heart, Abel muddles along, seeming to make friends and foes of the strange assortment of folk he meets almost by chance. But when he meets Disiri the moss maiden, she makes him her lover, and Abel falls fast and hard. "If you do not understand about Disiri, it will not matter what you understand, because you will not understand a thing," he tells Ben passionately.

As is the inevitable nature of such adventures, Abel is soon on a quest to find a wondrous sword; unfortunately, the sword is currently in the possession of a dragon. But Abel is undaunted, believing that this one very special blade will help him fulfil his ambition of becoming a knight and a true hero. With a wonderful, if supernaturally gifted hound for company, Abel sets off, and his journey will take him places he's never dreamed of.

The Knight is the first part of Gene Wolfe's magnificent, bestselling fantasy epic. With this tale, Gene Wolfe, who was famously dubbed "the smartest, subtlest, most dangerous writer alive today," establishes himself (yet again) as a master storyteller.

In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace from a world he has found too messy for justice. Then his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge's cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are claimed by his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another on an elusive search for a greencard.

When an Indian – Nepali insurgency in the mountains interrupts Sai's romance with her Nepali tutor, and causes their lives to descend into chaos, they are forced to consider their colliding interests. The cook witnesses the hierarchy being overturned and discarded. And the judge must revisit his past, and his own journey and role in their intertwining histories.

This majestic, Man Booker Prize winning novel, tells of our busy, grasping times illuminated by the consequences of colonialism and global conflicts of religion, race and nationalism.

First, a dream of a life in Provence, and then a home to match the dream. Moving into an old farmhouse, at the foot of the Luberon mountains between Avignon and Aix, was the beginning of an exotic and bewildering new life for Peter Mayle and his wife – the beginning, in fact, of a year in Provence.

It began with lunch and by the end of the year, the couple had survived the buffetings both of the infamous wind known as the Mistral and the soupy accent of the native Provencal, overseen the planting of a new vineyard, endured the invasion by builders and guests, and eaten and drunk both memorably and often. In the end the book answers, most satisfactorily, that crucial question - what is it really like to live in Provence?

At the age of thirty-one, Gilbert moved with her husband to the suburbs of New York and began trying to get pregnant, only to realize that she wanted neither a child nor a husband.

Three years later, after a protracted divorce, she embarked on a yearlong trip of recovery, with three main stops: Rome, for pleasure (mostly gustatory, with a special emphasis on gelato); an ashram outside of Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for "balancing."

Where she ended up was as much a surprise to her, as it will be to you.All titles available at Vijitha Yapa Bookshop on request

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