Dalrymple, Rushdie Top Authors' Reading List in 2012

Zafri Mudasser Nofil/New Delhi
Dalrymple, Rushdie Top Authors' Reading List in 2012
When leading authors like Aravind Adiga, Jeet Thayil and Amit Chaudhuri were not writing in 2012, they were reading a lot- be it works of Naresh Fernandes, William Dalrymple or Anjali Joseph.

Mumbai-based journalist Fernandes' book Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay's Jazz Age topped the reading list of both 2008 Booker Prize winner Adiga and this year's Booker-nominated writer Thayil.

Dalrymple himself liked reading Pankaj Mishra's From the Ruins of Empire, Monisha Rajesh's Around India in 80 Trains, Salman Rushdie's Joseph Anton, Kate Boo's Beyond the Beautiful Forever and John Zubrzycki's The Mysterious Mr Jacob.

According to Adiga, Taj Mahal Foxtrot is a "loving and scholarly tribute to India's pioneering jazz musicians, and the city that they lived and worked in". Two other books he liked were Mustansir Dalvi's new translation of the poetry of Iqbal Taking Issue and Allah's Answer and Gopalakrishna Pai's Kannada novel Swapna Saraswata.

"Dalvi's translation introduces Iqbal to a new generation of Indian readers. Well written and superbly researched, Swapna Saraswata is the story of how Goa's Saraswat community spread across south India after being forced to leave their homeland during Portuguese rule. It has gone into several reprints in Karnataka, and will be a hit across India if it finds a good translator," Adiga told PTI.

Asked about his top reads during the year, Thayil's list went thus: Taj Mahal Foxtrot, Righteous Republic by Ananya Vajpeyi, Return of a King by Dalrymple, Dom Moraes: Selected Poems (edited by Ranjit Hoskote), The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy, and Drifting House by Krys Lee.

Chaudhuri named Joseph's Another Country, Palash Mehrotra's The Butterfly Generation and Anand Thakore's Elephant Bathing as his top reads.

"Another Country is a brief, poetic novel about the attrition caused by, and the inadvertent but radiant surplus gained from, aimless drift. Its subtlety and skill, and the instinct for beauty that marked Joseph's first novel, confirm her unusual and immense talent. The Butterfly Generation is a collection of musings on the young of the 'new India', and the writing is terse and - having originated as journalism - written at considerable speed.

"But it would be a pity if readers didn't pause to notice Mehrotra's great humour and insight, and his visionary impulse - the impulse of one who's aware of inhabiting a cusp in a country's history, and is caught between studying and merging with the effervescent, amoral landscape he's describing. Thakore's second book of poems, Elephant Bathing, is hugely pleasurable for its formal accomplishment, its wry cosmopolitanism, and for the poised way it carries, and is animated by, the painful stamp of human personality," writer-academic Chaudhuri told.

Diplomat Vikas Swarup, whose novel Q&A was adapted into the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, liked reading Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, which is "not just a biography of cancer but a literary mystery about the excitement and thrill of scientific discovery".

Anita Nair, the author of The Better Man, Ladies Coupe, Mistress and Lessons in Forgetting listed The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt and The Book of Barbosa by Duartes Barbosa as her top three reads for the year.

Jahnavi Barua, whose novel Rebirth was nominated for the 2012 Commonwealth Prize and Man Asian Booker Prize in 2011, liked Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka's multiple-award winning Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole's Open City and Janice Pariat's collection of stories Boats on Land.

Jerry Pinto, writer of Em and the Big Hoom, enjoyed Eunice de Souza and Melanie Silgardo's voluminous and brave collection of poems These My Words: The Penguin Book of Indian Poetry.

"It was lovely to see, within one set of covers, voices from all four corners of the subcontinent and from all strata of society," he says.

Thriller fiction writer Ashwin Sanghi liked Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie, Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan by Dalrymple and Brian Weiss' Miracles Happen: The Transformational Healing Power of Past Life Memories.

Delhi-based German author Roswitha Joshi enjoyed reading Lucknow Boy by Vinod Mehta, Durbar by Tavleen Singh and Get to the Top by Suhel Seth.

"All of them are very informative and written in a spunky style, spiced up by personal anecdotes that not only say a lot about events and the personalities involved in them but the authors and their mental make-up as well. After my recent trip to Egypt I cannot put down a book called River God written by Wilbur Smith, which had been lying for ages unread in a shelf because I could not gel with an over 600 pages long story set in ancient Egypt," she says.
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