Event: Poetry & Zee JLF – MahakaviKanhaiylalSethia Award for Poetry

Poetry is one of literature’s most effective and powerful art forms. Every year, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival celebrates this and recognises the best among India’s plethora of young and talented poets by announcing the MahakaviKanhaiyalalSethia Award for Poetry. In association with the MahakaviKanhaiyalalSethia Foundation, the award is a tribute to Mahakavi Kanhaiyalal Sethia and his immense repertoire. The winner receives an opportunity to share the stage with literary heavyweights at the Festival and also receives a cash prize.

MahakaviKanhaiyalalSethia was a renowned Rajasthani and Hindi poet. The internationally acclaimed writer authored a total of 42 books in Hindi, Urdu and Rajasthani. He was a Freedom fighter, social reformer, educationist and environmentalist who received the Padma Shri in 2004 and the Rajasthan Ratna in 2012. He was selected as a “Living Legend of the 20th Century” on the occasion of the bi-centenary celebration of the US Library of Congress in Washington.

Rajathi Salma, a well-known name to readers of contemporary Tamil literature, will be felicitated at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2019 at Diggi Palace on the 27th of January at 4:30 pm, as the fourth winner of the award.

Salma has made her mark as a distinctive literary voice, and has to her credit, two volumes of poetry, a short story anthology and two novels, several of which have been translated to other languages as well. Lakshmi Holmstrom’s English translation of her novel, entitled The Hour Past Midnight, was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Asian DSC Award.

Salma has been the recipient of several awards and honours before, and has also been a special invitee to several book festivals and seminars. She was the only representative of Tamil literature when the University of Chicago organized a two-day seminar, as part of the annual Norman J. Cutler Conference, to discuss her literary works. Salma has been a committed public servant and was the elected President of the Ponnampatti Town Panchayat between 2001-2006 as well as Chairperson of the Social Welfare Board, Govt. of Tamil Nadu.

The MahakaviKanhaiyalalSethia Award is given out after a careful selection process by an eminent jury comprising renowned litterateurs and discerning art aficionados like Namita Gokhale, Sanjoy K. Roy, Sukrita Paul, Sudeep Sen, and Jaiprakash Sethia.

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Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

It’s challenging enough to write a thriller from the perspective of a normal person, but to write it from the viewpoint of a woman diagnosed with agoraphobia is another level. There’s restrictions based on the fear, and society as we know it doesn’t always accept such a fear as normal, and by extension, the person as well, so that character involved in a crime brings other aspects into the picture.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn was a pleasure to read. It engaged me from the start, and kept me hooked till the end. For Dr Fox, the character with the phobia, the world begins (and in a way ends) at her window. She observes it through her camera. She cannot leave her house, but she does have some help, few visitors. Till the crime happens, nothing seems to be out of place in that neighborhood either. But when she witnesses something, will she be able to do something about it? And will people believe what she witnessed?

The author uses the phobia and some effects of that phobia to good effect. There’s another aspect to the character too, one that I cannot say without it becoming a spoiler. But that aspect I could understand even before the reveal. I guess I read a lot of thrillers. The predictability didn’t take away anything from the book though. At a point, I think the book might be at an end, but then again the author adds another twist. And I couldn’t guess the ending. It made perfect sense. And I LOVED it!

It’s not just the thrill that makes this book a must-read for me. It’s the character too. I’m going to reread this for sure. And I hope to meet the author and get this book signed.

Vinay Leo R.
©A Bookworm’s Musing
January 2019.

Book Review: Memory Man, by David Baldacci

This is the first time I’ve read a book by David Baldacci. I didn’t know what to expect from it, but just that many have been recommending me to try.

Two cases sixteen months apart, connected to a person and perhaps through the person’s memory. That person… Amos Decker. The first crime was the murders of his family. The second, a school shooting. It sends Decker, the local PD he once worked for and the FBI on a hunt for a killer who seems to have entered stealthily and left without a trace.

Straight up, I loved Amos Decker’s character. Flawed but human, superhuman because of an event from his past, his memory both his strength and his weakness. It fit. His ability to analyse what he had seen heard before and what he saw in the present was wonderful. He was paired with Mary Lancaster, an ideal foil I felt, till Alexandra Jamison’s character entered the picture. I liked that. It suited Decker’s character sketch better. And of course, there was Bogart, the FBI man. Given the ending, there’s promise in this story series. I am looking forward to more.

The plot kept me turning pages. This is by no means a small book. But I finished it over two days. It was gripping. When the plot seemed to be heading nowhere, the author put in twist after twist to bring just the hint of meaning, making me want to know what would happen next. Loved that. Perfect for a thriller. The motive for the crime was somewhat justified from the criminal’s point of view too. In a way, the reader did feel sympathy and empathy to the criminal too. A first for me, I think.

Would I reread? Without any doubt. Yes. But for now, I’d read more of this series.

Vinay Leo R.
©A Bookworm’s Musing
January 2019.