The mysterious Mr Jacob by John Zubrzycki

The author does a good job of stretching out very little information about Mr Jacob (well, he is a mystery) into a full book. Would probably have been an interesting feature article, but there is just too much padding with background info to make it a worthwhile book. Probably of most interest are all the…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Rear entrance by David Barun Kumar Thomas

For some reason I hadn’t got around to reading this since I bought it in India in 2011. But what a little gem. Three Indians from very different backgrounds meet at the British embassy in Brussels, all wanting entry visas to England for different reasons. This very honest, straight talking and perceptive book gets right…

Half girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat

Chetan seems to be getting more and more pessimistic with each book. An interesting but rather sad story unusually set in Bihar state. I think it’s time Chetan tried something a bit more epic, he needs a new challenge! 60/100

A strange kind of paradise by Sam Miller

Miller presents an overview of how foreign visitors have seen India over the centuries. But really it is a fantastic compendium of India facts and trivia that any Indophile will revel in. Once again I’ve discovered lots of wonderful things I didn’t know about my favourite country from Miller’s books. Wish he had included all…

Never mind the bullocks by Vanessa Able

The author attempts to drive around India in a Tata Nano car. Sounds like it should be a lot of fun, but it was a rather boring read. It would probably be Ok for anyone that hasn’t been to India but if you have, you will know all about the horrors of driving or being…