Just another WordPress.com site

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

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 into the heads of what it is to be an Indian in today’s world. 81/100

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 the other stories he lists as having to leave out. 90/100

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 a passenger on Indian roads. Sometimes he author comes up with a funny line, but mostly its like going on a very long drive. As often happens with women travel writers, there is as much if not more about her relationships as there is about the country they are in. The star of the book is the car itself, I am amazed it lasted the trip. 60/100

Raiders from the north by Alex Rutherford

The first book of Rutherford’s historical novels of the Moghul emperors is as expected a gory tale of fighting tribesmen and all the usual Game of Thrones style plotting and treachery. A good read and at least it is historically accurate. Otherwise it could be any medieval historical novel set anywhere. Only criticism is the characters are very wooden and a few subplots would have helped make the story more interesting, but maybe Babur was a really boring guy. I’m sure the series will improve once i get to Akbar and Shah jehan. 60/100

The illicit happiness of other people by Manu Joseph

Joseph’s second novel starts of a bit slow but turns into a wonderful, insightful and sometimes witty read. A Malayali father, who has plenty of problems himself tries to understand why his son committed suicide by talking to everyone he can track down that knew him. The book touches on psychology and philosophy as it looks at what is happiness and theories of delusion as well as everyday life in contemporary Chennai. Off to a great start in 2014 with this book, hope Jhumpa Lahiri reads it too.  89/100