Books this Weekend: Exploring a city, life’s challenges and a rape victim’s tale

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New Delhi– Go through a topographical anthology that explores sites of interest and recreates the key events, customs and lives of the past vis-a-vis Delhi and Agra; get answers to your existential queries, learn and evolve from the challenges of life; read a fictional tale around the life of a rape victim, based on the Nirbhaya gang-rape; and flick through English translation of Urdu writer Nazir Ahmad’s Mirat ul-‘Arus.

The IANS bookshelf has a varied range for readers this weekend.

1. Book: Delhi and Agra; Author: Michael Alexander; Publisher: Hachette; Price: Rs 499; Pages: 320

Delhi claims a noble history as the site of at least seven capitals dating from before the time of Alexander the Great. The glorious Mogul Empire brought great riches to the city and to Agra, where the world-famous Taj Mahal has excited awe among visitors for almost four centuries. This Traveller’s Reader is an indispensable and fascinating companion for anyone who wants to understand the history of both cities and who seeks their true spirit.

“Delhi and Agra” is a topographical anthology that explores the cities’ sites of interest and recreates the key events, customs and lives of the past, drawing on diaries, letters, memoirs and commentaries written by residents and visitors over the course of 600 years.

2. Book: Here and Beyond; Author: Rashmi; Publisher: Bloomsbury; Price: Rs 399; Pages: 191

How do you deal with life’s challenges? What is the secret of living a simple and happy life? How do you strike a balance in all your relationships — whether in love, at work or in life?

“Here and Beyond” articulates the answers to your existential queries, helping you to learn and evolve as a spiritual being with each step. With easy and identifiable anecdotes from life — ranging from dealing with a neighbour who calls you names to witnessing a child dying of a life-threatening disease — the book offers a comprehensive understanding of life’s basic principles. The book strives to help you secure a blissful life, free of disease and disquiet.

3. Book: Nirbhaya, A Common Man’s Justice; Author: Saurabh Singh; Publisher: Invincible; Price: Rs 299; Pages: 227

This is a fictional read inspired by the Nirbhaya case. It raises genuine concerns on the pre-existing Juvenile Act in our country, which has now, fortunately, been amended. Aaryan, a software engineer working at an IT firm in Delhi, is sentenced to death. He is found guilty of brutally murdering Himanshu and raping a 28-year-old girl. Aaryan is only left with five days and during his last days, he decides to pen down his story.

Aarushi, orphaned at the age of five, has only one dream — to become an IAS officer. She is bold, beautiful and determined not to fall in love, until her dream comes true. Aaryan does every possible thing to impress Aarushi and promises her that unless she expresses her feelings, he won’t say, “I Love You.” Everything was going smoothly, until that unfortunate night when Aarushi decided to express her love to Aaryan. That night, Aarushi was brutally raped. Was it Aaryan who did it? Why did he do this to the girl whom he loved madly? Discover the love story and walk through the journey of Aaryan and Aarushi.

4. Book: The Bride’s Mirror; Author: Nazir Ahmad; Translator: G.E. Ward; Publisher: Aleph; Price: Rs 399; Pages: 214

“The Bride’s Mirror” (Mirat ul-‘Arus) was the first bestseller in Urdu. First published in 1869, it had gone into several editions and sold over 100,000 copies within 20 years. An English translation was published in England in 1903 by G.E. Ward, and the book has been almost continuously in print ever since.

The novel tells the story of two sisters, Asghari and Akbari, who are married to two brothers in Delhi. Akbari, the spoilt, mean-tempered and impetuous sister, fritters away all the advantages she is offered and makes a mess of her life. Asghari, who has to contend with all sorts of disappointments and setbacks, prevails in the end and makes a success of everything she turns her hand to.

All through its existence, “The Bride’s Mirror” had been hailed as one of the most important works of Urdu literature ever published. The portrait it provides of the lives of those who lived in Delhi over a hundred years ago is an indelible one. (IANS)


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