Prem Rao

Stories from a Story Teller

On My Reading List

I am one of those voracious readers who not only reads all the time but reads several books at a time. I enjoy the variety in dipping into one book which may be quite different from the other. Here are the books that I am currently reading :- Read more…

Approaches To A Group Writing Project

All my writing so far has been on an individual basis. I framed a plot, wrote a story, and contributed to the editing and publishing of the book that emerged. I also contributed a short story to a publishing house which produced an anthology of short stories from some thirty different authors, like me. The task of the editor here was merely to liaise with the authors and make sure they sent in their stories within a defined time frame and with a certain quality. The challenge I now speak of is totally different. I am at the start of a book project which involves writing the history of an institution. I thought I would share my thoughts and experience. Read more…

“The Last Mughal ” by William Dalrymple

“The Last Mughal” by William Dalrymple is about “the fall of a dynasty. Delhi. 1857”. The dynasty in question is, of course, the Mughal dynasty, founded by Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur in 1526  by defeating Sultan Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat . After ruling large parts of India for centuries, the Mughal Empire shrank over time and with the advent of the British by the 1850s was a spent force. Bahadur Shah Zafar II (1775-1862) was Emperor in name only. However, in the eyes of many he still remained a rallying point as he was the Khalifa, God’s Regent on earth. Read more…

“Losing Amma, Finding Home” by Uma Girish

The title of the book was extremely catchy. ” Losing Amma, Finding Home” grabbed my attention at the book store. The brief description of the book, ” A Memoir About Love, Loss and Life’s Detours” made me buy it right then.  I am glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed Uma’s book. Perhaps I could relate to the descriptions more as I am very familiar with the middle-class Madras (now Chennai) milieu she writes about. Read more…

“Naati Charami; The Game of Love” by Savithri Duggirala

How much of an author gets into the book? Let’s be honest, a fair amount does. “All artists’ work is autobiographical. Any writer’s work is a map of their psyche. You can really see what their concerns are, what their obsessions are, and what interests them,” said Kim Addonizio, the American novelist and poet. I suspect although this is a work of fiction, some elements of her life in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere in the world have crept into Savithri Duggirala’s debut novel, “Naati Charami: The Game of Love.”  The words, “Naati Charami” in Sanskrit are said at the time of the traditional Hindu wedding when the bridegroom swears to remain faithful to this wife. Read more…

” India In Love” by Ira Trivedi

If you study books on sexuality and love, which is a topic, rarely if at all, written about in India, Ira Trivedi’s “India In Love: Marriage and Sexuality in the 21st Century” must rank amongst the best. Meticulous research backed by anecdotal data and personal narratives of ordinary Indians, people who could well be someone we know, make for some highly educative as well as interesting reading. The book, published by Aleph Book Company in 2014 is, I believe, something every educated Indian should read. It clears so many cobwebs in our minds and lays to rest myths that have made any talk about sex and sexuality virtually taboo in our traditional society. A blurb in Mid-day puts it so well, ” Trivedi charged into India’s bedroom and pulled the covers right off. No more secrets.” Read more…

” The Holocaust of Indian Partition: An Inquest” by Madhav Godbole

In 1947, a few parts of undivided India, primarily Punjab and Bengal, were torn asunder and a new nation came into being: Pakistan. This event, directly or indirectly, affected millions of people in India and is still talked about although nearly 70 years have gone by since then. The turmoil of those times and the events that led up to these epoch-making events are captured in Dr. Madhav Godbole’s book,  “The Holocaust of Indian Partition: An Inquest” . Read more…

“The Accidental Prime Minister” by Sanjaya Baru

This book, so appropriately titled, “ The Accidental Prime Minister,” created a sensation when it first came out in April 2014. After all it was the first book in a long, long time which had as its subject the Prime Minister of India, the world’s largest democracy.  Besides, it was written by an “insider” and a senior official at that. Sanjaya Baru, a well-known journalist and former editor of the Financial Express and the Business Standard had been hand-picked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to be his Media Adviser and served in that capacity from May 2004 to August 2008. Read more…

“Rahul Dravid:Timeless Steel” An Anthology of Articles from ESPN CricInfo

Rahul Dravid is my favourite cricketer and you can imagine the excitement with which I recently read, “Rahul Dravid: Timeless Steel” an anthology of 30 articles about him published by ESPN CricInfo in 2012. What makes it interesting is that pieces have been contributed not only by sports journalists who have followed his cricketing career for long, but also by others including his wife! Read more…

“Mumbai Fables” by Gyan Prakash

It calls for special skills to write a scholarly research-based non-fiction book and make it as interesting as a work of fiction. Gyan Prakash, the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University has done just that in his book, “Mumbai Fables.” I loved reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in recent Indian history. Befitting the work of a scholar, the book is replete with references and citations to back the story of a city that has often been called, “India’s City of Dreams.” For hundreds of years now the erstwhile Bombay, now called Mumbai, was every man’s dream. Thousands flocked there every day, as indeed they do even today, to seek their fortunes, fueled perhaps by the glamour provided by “Bollywood” or the Hindi film industry.

Read more…

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