Books to Behold
Various personalities tell Newsline their favourite books from 2010.
The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed: I just read a proof copy of this book. It comes out in February 2011. Set in the troubled valley of Kashmir, it is a haunting, lyrical book.
The Passage by Justin Cornin: It’s a vampire novel but that’s not the reason I loved it. In fact I have never read a vampire novel before or after this. The Passage is one of those old-fashioned novels where every page leaves you breathless. And at 800 plus pages it feels too short.
Nemesis by Philip Roth: A story of a polio epidemic in small town America in the forties… only Philip Roth could make this into a rollicking read.
The Quiet American by Graham Greene: I only read it this year, but it’s as relevant as it was 60 years ago.
Ik Tukra Dhoop Ka by Asad Muhammed Khan: Our greatest living short story writer is in fine form. In this one collection you’ll find stories about Ghauri kings as well as Baloch political prisoners.
Rait Par Lakirain by Muhammed Khalid Akhter: This is a collection of book reviews, essays and parodies spanning 40 years. The book teaches you how not to read Urdu’s great books. A very funny, very wise book.
Chalo by Masud Alam: Our bookshops are full of travelogues, but this one truly takes you off the beaten track.
(Mohammed Hanf is the author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes).
The most exciting book I read this year is The Greatest Salesman in the World. I strongly recommend that people, especially youth, should read this book, which has a lot of motivational material.
(Aisam-ul-Haq plays professional tennis at the national and international level).
My most engaging read in 2010 was Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton.
Usually I am a little wary of the bestseller tag as the marketing hype does not often match content, so when I picked up this book from the bestseller stack while on holiday, I did not know what to expect.
Seven Days in the Art World in its non-fiction narrative meanders through art auctions, biennales, fairs, an artist’s studio, art school and the editorial offices of an art publication to pretty much cover the vital dimensions of the art universe where artists and the art industry professionals negotiate new boundaries between creativity, status and the market.
Thornton travels the world to discuss current trends and projections with movers and shakers in the field. Written in a style which has the immediacy of a travel diary and gossipy tenor of a racy novel, the writer successfully de-mystifies the peculiar rituals of the art community for a wider readership.
(Niilofur Farrukh is the editor of NuktaArt, a magazine on Art).
The best book I read this year was Room by Emma Donoghue. It was short-listed for the Booker Prize and in my opinion should have won instead of The Finkler Question, which I also read (as well as Skippy Dies). A fascinating story of a little boy and his mother imprisoned in a single room for years by a mysterious abductor, the voice of the child who describes their situation through his eyes kept me mesmerised for days after I’d finished reading it. An excellent and unusual book.
(Bina Shah is a writer and journalist based in Karachi).
My favourite book of 2010? A difficult question, as it always is when I am asked about a favourite. Contextualising my reading in my own experience, I think I would pick Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man and Life’s Greatest Lesson. It is an old book (Doubleday, 1997) that I had read many years ago, but I read it again this year. It is a book that touches the reader to the core of his heart. It is about the “lessons from life” that a professor of sociology suffering from a terminal disease gives to his former student-turned-friend in 14 weekly sessions each Tuesday. I was struck by the old man’s incredible ability to accept his debilitating illness and come to terms with his impending mortality without a trace of bitterness or fear. For him it was important to carry on as best as he could with dignity and grace. The other important lesson he spoke about was the power of connecting with people, which I think everyone must do in the difficult times we live in.
(Zubeida Mustafa is a journalist).
My favourite books were the Conn Iggulden series on Genghis Khan and Julius Caesar. I’m hooked to all historical fiction.
(Frieha Altaf is the CEO of Catwalk productions).
The book that I liked the most this year was The Blue Bedspread by Raj Kamal Jha. It’s a small book and the reason I loved it was because I could read it in one night and then read it all over again. So, happy reading!
(Deepak Perwani is a renowned fashion designer).