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Following fish by Samanth Subramanian

A series of entertaining travelogues of India’s very long coastline. Most are about fish in local culture, but the most interesting are about toddy and shipbuilding and the unusual Catholic community of Tuticorin. Highly rated by many reviewers, and unusual topics, but really no different to many travel articles in newspapers or blogs. 65/100

Two years, eight months… by Salman Rushdie

Don’t really know what to think of this rambling fairy tale with Rushdie’s longest title ever. It’s certainly playful, funny and philosophical, and more pop culture than you’d expect, and has a lot to say, or does it? I’m not giving anything else away. Anyway, I liked it. 86/100

The year of the runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

It’s hard to read this book about illegal Indian immigrants in Britain as a fiction book. It reads more like an episode of Four Corners or a Channel 4 docco. Ultimately though it is a thoroughly depressing and sad book, but expertly written. Interesting look into how immigrants get by (well just) in England and also especially Sikh culture and beliefs as well. I certainly never knew that Sikhs had a caste system. 81/100

Flood of fire by Amitav Ghosh

The final book of his trilogy about the Opium Wars. This is a big improvement on book 2 and the action moves around from India to Hong Kong via Singapore. Lots of action and mystery, and even some steamy romance, but unfortunately the characters are all very hard to warm to. The trilogy is woth a read though for its insights into colonialism, Asian history and early capitalism. 77/100

Under the dragon by Rory MacLean

Written when Burma was just opening up to the world again, this is both an insight into the lives of ordinary Burmese, and a journey to find the makers of an ancient woven basket. Along the way the author encounters a psychotic warlord and a wise monk, but it is the optimistic spirit o the people, despite adversity that stands out, as i discovered on my recent trip there. 76/100

Unclaimed terrain by Ajay Navaria

A collection of raw and confronting stories about what life is like for low caste people in India. You know how bad things can be but these stories show its even worse than you can imagine. Interesting style, not always readable but certainly has an impact. 73/100

Two books about Burma

Not exactly India but part of British India I guess.

First up was George Orwell’s Burmese Days. Based on his own experiences as a government official in Burma, this is a still surprisingly modern look at the sad wretches existing in a small Burmese town. The English band together despite their differences because they are English, the Burmese are ignored except when they start getting uppity. In the middle of all this is sensitive Mr Flory, not really a part of either world. Great fun but also cynical and sad. 88/100

Land of a Thousand Eyes by Peter Olszewski. Eighty odd years later and really nothing much has changed from Orwell’s days. The expats still cling together and still find local mistresses but generally avoid the locals. Olszewski worked as a journalist in a now independent Burma or Myanmar, and gives some insights into politics, censorship and Burmese customs. Despite the politics he makes it sound dreamy at times, heavy at others. 70/100