Saturday, September 25, 2010

THE GLASS PALACE by Amitav Ghosh

Rajkumar is only a boy, helping out on a market stall in thedusty square outside the royal palace in Mandalay, when the British force theBurmese King, Queen and court into exile. Thus begins The Glass Palace, anovel that not only grasps the reach and fall of empires across the twentiethcentury, but also maps with unerring skill the rival geography of the humanheart. In the upheaval that follows the British in Mandalay and the shatteringof the kingdom of the Glass Palace, Rajkumar, a stateless orphan in a tatteredlungi, is lifted on the tides pf chaos deep into the teak forests of upperBurma. There, with the help of an itinerant merchant from Malaca, he will makehis fortune. Yet he is haunted by the vision of Dolly, a child attendant of theroyal entourage being escorted under armed guard into exile in India. So, nowadult and wealthy, he leaves Burma to find her. Through the intertwining storiesof Dolly and Rajkumar, the history of the twentieth century is told across threegenerations, spread over three interlinked parts of the British Empire: Burma,with its conflicting undercurrents of discontent; Malaya, with its vast rubber plantation,and India, amid growing opposition to British rule.

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs--yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.

THE PILGRIMAGE by Paulo Coelho

The Pilgrimage paved the way to Paulo Coehlo's international bestselling novel The Alchemist. In many ways, these two volumes are companions—to truly comprehend one, you must read the other.

Step inside this captivating account of Paulo Coehlo's pilgrimage along the road to Santiago. This fascinating parable explores the need to find one's own path. In the end, we discover that the extraordinary is always found in the ordinary and simple ways of everyday people. Part adventure story, part guide to self-discovery, this compelling tale delivers the perfect combination of enchantment and insight.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

TAJ MAHAL by Giles Tillotson

An enduring monument of haunting beauty, the Taj Mahal seems a symbol of stability itself. The familiar view of the glowing marble mausoleum from the gateway entrance offers the very picture of permanence. And yet this extraordinary edifice presents a shifting image to observers across time and cultures. The meaning of the Taj Mahal, the perceptions and responses it prompts, ideas about the building and the history that shape them: these form the subject of Giles Tillotson’s book. More than a richly illustrated history—though it is that as well—this book is an eloquent meditation on the place of the Taj Mahal in the cultural imagination of India and the wider world.

Since its completion in 1648, the mausoleum commissioned by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, has come to symbolize many things: the undying love of a man for his wife, the perfection of Mughal architecture, the ideal synthesis of various strands of subcontinental aesthetics, even an icon of modern India itself. Exploring different perspectives brought to the magnificent structure—by a Mughal court poet, an English Romantic traveler, a colonial administrator, an architectural historian, or a contemporary Bollywood filmmaker—this book is an incomparable guide through the varied and changing ideas inspired by the Taj Mahal, from its construction to our day. In Tillotson’s expert hands, the story of a seventeenth-century structure in the city of Agra reveals itself as a story about our own place and time.

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