By Saket Suman
After an exciting start to the New Year with releases of over 30 books across genres in January, the upcoming month is once again dotted with several interesting titles that may catch the attention of bibliophiles. Narrowing down a list from dozens of books releasing in February, IANS recommendations for the month, dominated largely by fiction and accompanied by a memoir and a commentary on Pakistan, is both subtle and appealing at the same time.
Here are the five books that we cannot wait to read this February:
1. A Century is Not Enough, by Sourav Ganguly (Juggernaut)
A sporting classic and a manual for living Sourav Ganguly's life has been full of highs and lows. Arguably among India's greatest cricket captains, he gave confidence to the team, re-energised it and took India, for the first time, to spectacular overseas victories. But Ganguly's story also came with great challenges -- from his early days when he had to wait four long years before being included in the team to the ugly battle with coach Greg Chappell. He fought his way out of every corner and climbed back up from every defeat, becoming India's ultimate comeback king.
What does it take to perform when the pressure is sky-high? How do you fight back and win? How do you make a name for yourself when you are young and have started the journey which is closest to your heart? As Sourav takes you through his life, he looks at how to overcome challenges and come out a winner. Time and time again.
2. Do We Not Bleed? Reflections of a 21st-Century Pakistani, by Mehr Tarar (Aleph)
This is a passionate, illuminating book about contemporary Pakistan. Comprising original profiles of diverse Pakistanis -- some of whom are internationally feted and many others who are relatively unknown -- as well as essays that examine the major fault lines in Pakistani society, the book offers the reader an insider's perspective on the state of affairs in the country today.
The book is divided into five thematic sections, each corresponding to a subject that the author feels strongly about. 'Religious Persecution and Other Discontents' delves into the killings and oppression generated by religious discord that are now a routine feature of life in Pakistan. 'The Pakistan You Do Not Know' shows us little known aspects of everyday life in Pakistan. And the other three sections of the book too focus on similar aspects and bring many unknown facets to the fore.
3. Karmachari: Short Stories About Ordinary People, by Vasant Purushottam Kale and Vikrant Pande (HarperCollins)
You who stand in a queue, who try to board a running local, who tolerate your boss's snide remarks and the trials and tribulations of marital life -- you still manage to discuss politics with enthusiasm, to finish a game of cards, to laugh and to make others laugh... You are a true karmachari.
A collection of unforgettable short stories about ordinary people, Karmachari is a mirror held up to society. Set in suburban Mumbai of the 1970s, yet universal, it is peopled by characters we might meet in real life. They come alive under V.P. Kale's sharp but compassionate gaze, and prod us gently towards a world of greater kindness and understanding.
4. On The Road To Tarascon, by Arnab Nandy (Niyogi Books)
A lover's note among a senile woman's possessions sets off a chain of events that could lead to the discovery of a Van Gogh masterpiece -- one of the most important paintings to have been lost in World War II. When travel writer Neil Bose falls for Eva Schicktanz, he does not know he is getting involved with much more than a dimpled girl in nerd glasses. Neil and Eva must stay ahead of unknown pursuers after a common goal, and follow an unusual trail charted in 1945. But after so many years, does the trail even exist? A quest spanning continents and seven decades, this edge-of-the-seat thriller keeps you hooked till the last page.
5. A Murder on Malabar Hill, by Sujata Massey (Penguin)
Sujata Massey is an award-winning and internationally-acclaimed mystery writer best known for her Rei Shimura series. Set in the multicultural mix of 1920s' Bombay, "A Murder on Malabar Hill" expertly combines the delights of Agatha Christie with the period charm of Downton Abbey. Intrepid and intelligent, young Perveen Mistry joins her father's prestigious law firm to become one of India's first female lawyers. Her tumultuous past also makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's rights.
When Mistry Law is appointed to execute the will of Omar Farid, a wealthy mill owner, Perveen's suspicions are aroused by a curious provision which could disinherit Farid's three widows and leave them vulnerable. Are the Farid widows -- who live in strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to men -- being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen decides to investigate, but when tensions escalate to murder, it becomes clear that her own life is in mortal peril and she will need to use everything in her power to outwit a dangerous criminal.
(Saket Suman can be contacted at email@example.com)