Browse Through

Sunday potpourri

1. The World Is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-first Century by Thomas Friedman, published by Penguin books, paperback, pp 624, Rs 850

2. Until I Find You by John Irving, published by Ballantine Books, paperback, pp 848, Rs 475

3. Desert Children by Waris Dirie,

published by Penguin Books, Rs 595

4. The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy, published by Penguin India, pp 240, Rs 500

5. Ya-Yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells, published by HarperCollins, paperback, pp 304, Rs 500

What the books are about

The world is flat :

The beginning of the twenty-first century will be remembered, Friedman argues, not for military conflicts or political events, but for a whole new age of globalisation, a flattening of the world. The explosion of advanced technologies now means that knowledge pools and resources have connected all over the planet, levelling the playing field as never before, so that each of us is potentially an equal and competitor of the other. The rules of the game have changed but does this death of distance, which requires us all to run faster in order to stay in the same place, mean the world has got too small, too flat, too fast for us to adjust! Friedman demystifies the exciting, bewildering, global scene unfolding before our eyes, one which we sense but barely yet understand.

Until I find you :

Actor Jack Burns seeks a sense of identity and father figures while accommodating a host of overbearing and elaborately dysfunctional women in Irving’s latest sprawling novel. At the novel’s onset (in 1969), four-year-old Jack is dragged by his mother, Alice, a Toronto-based tattoo artist, on a year-long search throughout northern Europe for William Burns, Jack’s runaway father, a church organist and ‘ink addict’. Back in Toronto, Alice enrolls Jack at the all-girls school St Hilda’s, where she mistakenly thinks he’ll be “safe among the girls”. Jack survives a childhood remarkable for its onslaught of sexual molestation at the hands of older girls and women to become a world-famous actor and Academy Award–winning screenwriter. He retraces his childhood steps in search of the truth about his father — a quest that also emerges as a journey toward normalcy.

Desert children :

Fashion model, UN ambassador and courageous spirit, Waris Dirie was born into a family of tribal desert nomads in Somalia. Desert Children tells us how she and the journalist Corinna Milborn have investigated the practice of female genital mutitation (FGM) in Europe — they estimate that up to 500,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk of FGM. At the moment, France is the only European country in which offenders are convicted and no European country officially recognises the threat of genital mutilation as a reason for asylum. Here are the voices of women who have felt encouraged and emboldened by Waris Dirie’s courage.

The ordinary person’s... :

In this collection of speeches and essays, Arundhati Roy writes about the subjects dearest to her heart, subjects of interest to anyone interested in democracy, in global justice, and in the direction certain powerful agencies beyond our control are taking the world. Focusing largely on that intense period leading up to and beyond the attack on Iraq, Roy systematically deconstructs the US government’s argument for going to war. She exposes the gaping errors in their thesis, the hypocrisy and false ideology behind the rhetoric that led to 42 per cent of the American public believing that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, and that a bombed, besieged and starved country such as Iraq was a direct threat to the safety of the mighty US.

Ya-Yas in bloom :

Ya-Yas in Bloom reveals the roots of the Ya-Yas’ friendship in the 1930s and roars through 60 years of marriage, child-raising, and hair-raising family secrets. When four-year-old Teensy Whitman stuffs a pecan up her nose, she sets off the chain of events that lead Teensy, Caro, Vivi and Necie to become true sister-friends. Told in alternating voices of Vivi and the Petite Ya-Yas, Siddalee and Baylor Walker, as well as other denizens of Thornton, Louisiana, Ya-Yas in Bloom shows the Ya-Yas in love, and at war with convention. Through crises of faith and hilarious lapses of parenting skills, brushes with alcoholism and glimpses of the dark reality of racial bigotry, the Ya-Ya values of unconditional loyalty, high style and Cajun sass shine through. But in the Ya-Yas’ inimitable way, these four remarkable women also teach their children about the Mysteries: the wonder of snow in the Deep South, the possibility that humans are made of stars, and the belief that miracles do happen.

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