Reconnect to cynicism, mystery and miracles (IANS Books This Week)

New Delhi, June 17 (Calcutta Tube) Here are five new books to add to your reading list this week:

1. ‘Serious Men’: Written by Manu Joseph; Published by HarperCollins-India; Priced at Rs.499.

Ayyan Mani is just another man in Mumbai, stranded in the ‘rot’ of a good marriage, an unremarkable life and a deadend job as personal assistant to an insufferable astronomer called Arvind Acharya at the Institute of Theory and Research. To breathe some life into the drudgery that has set in, Ayyan weaves an outrageous fiction around his 10-year-old son.

When the formidable reputation of Acharya, who is obsessed with the theory that microscopic extra-terrestrials are falling on earth all the time, is rocked by a major scandal, Ayyan sees in the crisis an opportunity to make his son a national hero. Alternately funny and poignant, ‘Serious Men’ is a savage satire on class, love, relationships, and our veneration of science. Though provoking.

2. ‘Extreme American Makeover’: Written by Mitali Perkins; Published by HarperCollins-India; Priced at Rs.199.

Sameera, ‘Sparrow’ to her friends, is used to feeling invisible. But all is about to change. As her father’s campaign for the US presidency gathers steam, Sameera trades her summer vacation for a crash course in becoming a celebrity. Step 1: Fabulous Makeover, of course!

As it turns out, the makeover is amazing. But some of the campaign staff are not content with a trendy haircut, stilettoes and designer outfits. They have decided to package Pakistan-born, straight-talking Sameera as ‘Sammy’ Righton – a giggly, carefree, all-American girl. What they don’t know is that Sameera has a mind of her own. And plenty to say. Not to mention a blog that could go live to millions. A riveting book written in a smart language.

3. ‘Aftertaste’: Written by Namita Devidayal; Published by Random House; Priced at Rs.399.

Mummyji, the matriarch of a prosperous business family, lies comatose in a Mumbai hospital. Manipulative and determined, Mummyji has seen her family through with bribe, food and adoration. Surrounding her are her four children — the weak Papaji, who is in need of cash; Samir, the dynamic head of business with a bad marriage and a demanding mistress; Suman, the spoilt beauty of the family who wants Mummyji’s jewels; Nina, Suman’s unlucky sister who has always been in the shadow.

Each one of them wants Mummyji to die for different reasons. Mumbai-based journalist Namita Devidayal rips open the politics in traditional Indian business families in her second novel after ‘The Music Room’.

4. ‘Miracle on the 17th Green’: Written by James Patterson, Published by Hachette Books, Priced at Rs.1,161.

A book of miracles and hope on the greens. Travis MacKinley’s life has drifted sideways. His job, his marriage and even his children feel disconnected and distant. He has achieved nothing of consequence in his life. One Christmas Day, Travis plays a round of golf and finds himself for the first time in the zone playing like a pro.

In an astonishing short order, Travis makes it to the PGA Senior Open at Pebble Beach, where he reaches the final round. And while his wife, children and a live television audience watch – a miracle unfolds, changing the destiny of the MacKinley family forever. The writer has had more New York Times bestsellers than any other writer ever, the Guinness Book of World Records says. His books have sold more than 170 million copies.

5. ‘Ambition’s Curse’: Written by Kishore Pillai; Published by Indialog Publications, Priced at Rs.195.

A young painter, Nita, is shot dead by an assailant. While the investigation continues, her lover, an upcoming artist, Lino, is also murdered in front of her apartment by an unknown assailant.

Nita’s intimacy with industrialist hotelier, Don Dhandeep Fernandes, could lead to many conclusions. But Ricky Dev, a typical Bollywood cop – no women, hard on booze and cigarettes and, of course, leading a workaholic, moribund life – feels there is more to it than meets the eye. A list of four suspects is drawn and even Lino is not above suspicion. The writer teaches marketing at Leeds University Business School.

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