A little of this and that

1. The Innocent Man by John Grisham, published by Arrow books, pp , Rs 475

2. Like a Rolling Stone by Greil Marcus, published by Faber and Faber, pp 304, Rs 695

3. Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie, published by Bloomsbury, pp 352, Rs 500

4. Kitchen by Banana Yosmitoto, published by Faber and Faber, pp 158, Rs 695

5. Desertion by Abdulrazak Gurnah, published by Bloomsbury, pp 272, Rs 550

What the books are about

The Innocent Man:

John Grisham’s first work of non-fiction, an exploration of small town justice gone terribly awry, in his most extraordinary legal thriller yet. In the major league draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the State of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A’s, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory. Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and bad habits — drinking, drugs and women. He began to show signs of mental illness. Unable to keep a job, he moved in with his mother and slept 20 hours a day on her sofa. In 1982, a 21 year-old cocktail waitress in Ada named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder. With no physical evidence, the prosecution’s case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Williamson was sent to Death Row. If you believe that in America you are innocent until proven guilty, this book will shock you. If you believe in death penalty, this book will disturb you. If you believe the criminal justice system is fair, this book will infuriate you.

Like a Rolling Stone:

In 1965, one song defined a generation, caught the questing spirit of the era and changed the rules of the possible in popular music for all time. At that point it was the longest hit single to be released, at six minutes and six seconds in length nearly three times longer than the average single. Greil Marcus’s extraordinary book captures the heady atmosphere of the recording studio in 1965 as witnessed by many clustered around the mercurial genius from Minnesota, the young Bob Dylan. Like a Rolling Stone reconstructs the context in which the song first appeared, in terms of Dylan’s own career and the world at large. It is an analysis and critique of an artist at the height of his creative powers and offers a unique insight into the mistakes and inspirations that occur when history is being made.

Broken Verses:

Fourteen years ago Aasmaani’s mother Samina, a blazing beauty and fearless activist, walked out of her house and was never seen again. Aasmaani refuses to believe she is dead and still dreams of her glorious return. Now grown up and living in Karachi, Aasmaani receives what could be the longed-for proof that her mother is still alive. As she comes closer to the truth, she is also irresistibly drawn to Ed, her ally and sparring partner, and the only person who can understand the profound hurt — and the profound love — that drives her.


Juxtapose two tales about mothers, trans-sexuality, kitchens, love, tragedy, and the terms they all come to in the minds of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Although one may notice a certain Western influence in Yoshimoto’s style, Kitchen is still critically recognised as an example of contemporary Japanese literature. The Independent, The Times and the New Yorker have all reviewed the novel favourably. In this novel, a young Japanese woman named Mikage Sakurai struggles to overcome the death of her grandmother while gradually growing close to one of her grandmother’s employees and living with his transexual mother/father. In many ways, the novel centers on food and its preparation. From Mikage’s love of kitchens to her job as a restaurant critic to the multiple scenes in which food is merely present, Kitchen is a short window into life of a young Japanese woman and her discoveries about food and love.


Early one morning in 1899, in a small town along the coast from Mombasa, Hassanali sets out for the mosque. But he never gets there, for out of the desert stumbles an ashen and exhausted Englishman who collapses at his feet. That man is Martin Pearce — writer, traveller and something of an Orientalist. After Pearce has recuperated, he visits Hassanali to thank him for his rescue and meets Hassanali’s sister Rehana; he is immediately captivated. In this crumbling town on the edge of civilised life, with the empire on the brink of a new century, a passionate love affair begins that brings two cultures together and which will reverberate through three generations and across continents.

Information courtesy: UNITED BOOKS, Ganesh Man Singh building, Northfield Cafe ph: 4229 512; Bluebird stores in Lazimpat & Tripureshwore, ph: 4245 726; Momo’s and More, Old Baneshwor; Himalayan Java; Saturday Cafe, Bouddha; Namaste Supermarket in Pulchowk, ph: 5525 017