“The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma” (192 pages; $16) by Ratika Kapur; published by Bloomsbury (www.bloomsbury.com)
“I wonder if anybody has ever bothered to think that if there are six billion people on this earth, and each and every one of them has a mother, dead or alive, what the total time spent would be on caring for others, on caring and compromise and sacrifice. I am sure that if anybody actually bothered to make such a calculation, that person’s head would also burst.” Meet Mrs. Renu Sharma, a wife, daughter-in-law and mother of Bobby, a teenage son. The New Delhi resident works as a receptionist while taking care of the household in the absence of her husband, who is on a medical contract in Dubai. One fine day, everything changes for Mrs. Sharma when she enounters Vineet, a stranger on a train platform. Things slowly spiral out of control and she finds herself at odds with tradition and modernity. “But I should say here I am not a cheap woman. I hail from a good family, a well-educated family, my father actually had a BSc in Botany, and I don’t talk to men without reason,” she reasons at the beginning about her new relationship while falling into a trap, of sorts, which ends on a tragic note. Our hats go to Ratika Kapur for this well-articulated book, written in first person. The narration in real time by the protagonist flows smoothly as you flip one page to the other. And before you realize it, the quick read leaves you asking for more from this fine and talented author.
“Selection Day” (304 pages; $26) by Aravind Adiga; published by Scribner (www.simonandschuster.com)
“Manju looked at Radha. “When you become a famous cricketer and I’m your manager, do I have to give him all your money?
“I’ll kill you if you give him my money. It’s just for you and me.”
Radha kicked the body beside him, which kicked back; and each knew what the other meant to say. Let their father become old: They would make him beg for every rupee they gave him.
Every. Single. Rupee!
Both of Mohan Kumar’s sons, too, were becoming entrepreneurs of revenge.”
Two young brothers growing up in Mumbai slums must cope with their compulsive ad controlling father’s expectations. Radha Krishna Kumar has been brought up to be the world’s greatest batsman while his younger brother Manjunath as the world’s second greatest batsman. No doubt, the two competitive siblings are crazy about cricket. Assisting them in fulfilling their lifelong desires are Tommy Sr., a coach and agent; businessman Anand Mehta, a visionary investor; and Sofia, a wealthy girl. Into this mix arrives the brash Javed, a rich and sophisticated Muslim boy who befriends Manju, offering enticing glimpses of a different possible life. What will Manju’s ultimate decision be? That’s the premise of this most mostly wickedly funny book, which later becomes serious while tackling issues such as sexuality, religion and class. No doubt, Booker-winner Adiga is a top-rate fiction writer adept at peppering his novels with humor and etching out complex characters to a T. Like he did in his previous novels, “Last Man in Tower” and notably “The White Tiger,” for which he won the Booker Prize nearly a decade ago.