Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Valley of Masks by Tarun J. Tejpal

Title: The Valley Of Masks
Author: Tarun J Tejpal
Number of Pages: 488
Cover Price: 499
Rating: 5/5

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Tarun J Tejpal born in 1963 is journalist and a novelist  He has been editor with India Today. After 2000, he started Tehelka news organization which now has a very good global reputation.

About this Book:

First of all this is not at all an easy read. It took lots of seating for me to complete the book. Almost after every page, I had to pause for a bit to further understand depth of each line written.

There are some books that we would enjoy reading and some books are meant to convey some message. 'The Valley of Masks' is none of these categories.

Even though as compared to other books, I have read before, pace for this was almost half. But I always wanted that this book should never end.

The Valley of Masks is about indifference. The book is about an organization that teaches violent perfection to young children. 'Aum' is leader of this path - where equality is placed before everything else – so much so that they have the same face – a mask that is fitted to their face once they turn sixteen and hence the name 'Valley Of Masks'.

It is a dark book - the more one reads, the more one is scared. One may would have read hundreds of books but I am dead sure, no one would have read anything like this.

These are some initial lines from the book, itself telling the complexity of the story:
It is not a long story. Some men would tell it in the time it takes to drink a glass of bitter sweet Ferment. And then there are those who would tell it in such detail that barrels would be drained dry and they would not arrive at its end. I am in between – too confused to be too short or too long. I was not always so. Once I was a man of opinion and will and purpose. Men turned to me for fixity when their hearts and minds wavered. Once.
In the world out there, men are neither free nor equal nor moral. They are driven by shallow impulses which made them dangerously selfish and dishonest. The seed of this inferno is the need to possess. The seed of this inferno is the word 'my'.
Looks are the greatest curse of life. A decoy and distraction. They are the crucial test set by divinity that all men fail. In the garden of looks bloom envy, ego, anxiety, vanity, covetousness, bitterness, lust and despair. In the garden of looks bloom the seed that first destroy the brotherhood. 
Even though its a hard read, everyone should read this book to know exactly that the extant of literature is far more beyond IIT Campus love stories and other such stuffs...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Monk, the Moor and Moses Ben Jalloun by Saeed Akhtar Mirza

Title: The Monk, the Moor & Moses Ben Jalloun
Author: Saeed Akhtar Mirza
Number of Pages: 256
Cover Price: Rs. 450
Rating: 5/5

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Saeed Akhtar Mirza born in 1943 is writer and director of hindi films and television serials. He has directed movies such as Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan (1978), Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai? (1980), Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho (1984), Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (1989) and Naseem (1995). Also, he is director of TV serials Nukkad (1986) and Intezaar (1988). He lives in Mumbai.
His first novel was Ammi: Letter to a Democratic Mother. The Monk, the Moor and Moses Ben Jalloun is his second novel.

About this Book:

The book is about the history we hardly knows. The history about people from middle-east region and islamic civilization, their contribution in the fields of philosophy, medicine, maths, astronomy, chemistry, literature. We give credit to the people from west about all these subjects. But Mirza has has uncovered the history describing its roots in ancient Islamic civilization. There are three main stories in the book:

1) First story is about four students in an American university of English Literature - an Indian, an African, an American and an Arab. They start discovering the thurth on their own: not just because they need to know they see how the past affects their own lives in very real ways.

2) Second is the story about conversations between a Christian monk, an Arab, and the Jewish scholar Moses ben Jalloun as they translate Arabic texts into European languages in 12th century.

3) Third story a girl who is a student of the scholar Al Beruni.

The author narrates these three parallel stories from different period of times and conveys the message that people from islamic civilization have achieved much more than just shooting each other or just being oil sheikhs and actually were way ahead of other civilisations, particularly the West, which destroyed and covered up their contribution.

He has described the contribution of scholars such as Abu Rehan al-Biruni, Mohammad bin Musa al-Khwarizmi, Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Hytham and many more.

Below are some lines from the book:
"The duty of a man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its contents, attack it from all sides. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency." 
"'O pious one', said the laconic iconoclast, Let me sit and drink wine in the mosque. Or could you show me a place where God doesn't exits ?"

The book is must read for everyone not just because it has been narrated very beautifully but also to understand the actual history and to pass it on to other people so that the knowledge of this history continues......