Review of From the Fatherland, With Love, By Ryu Murakami, trans. Ralph McCarthy, Charles de Wolf and Ginny Tapley Takemori in The Independent

The “other” Murakami – Ryu, rather than the marginally older Haruki – is best known in the UK for short, sharp novels like In The Miso Soup and Audition, books that dig away at a contemporary Japanese culture obsessed with youth, sex and violence, and familiar to us through manga, anime and horror films.

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HE TOO HAS A MARKETING MIND: Ravinder Singh sees his books as his ‘babies’ and refuses to abandon them after the writing process (Photo: RAUL IRANI)

It’s possible you’ve never heard of Ravinder Singh. Till a month ago, I hadn’t either. It might surprise you, as it did me, to know that he is Penguin India’s topselling fiction writer, with combined sales across all titles exceeding half a million. According to Anand Padmanabhan, vice-president, sales, Penguin India, pre-orders for Singh’s latest book, Like It Happened Yesterday, released just this month, were upwards of 200,000 copies. Unsurprising, since his second, Can Love Happen Twice?, sold more than 250,000 copies in its first year of publication, becoming one of Penguin’s topselling titles, second only to APJ Abdul Kalam’s Ignited Minds. Singh’s first book, I Too Had A Love Story, was published in 2008 by a small Delhi press, Srishti Publications, and re-released in 2012 by Penguin. Five years after its publication, it is still among the most popular on Flipkart.

For most people, it is only a dream to be called a genius and handed a big check. But in the United States, 23 people recently received a phone call announcing that dream had come true. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation hands out “genius” fellowships each year to assist people it determines are doing exceptional work. This year’s recipients of the $500,000 “no strings attached” grant include a stone carver, a quantum astrophysicist, a jazz pianist and a high school physics teacher.

In other rooms, other wonders_edIn Other Rooms, Other Wonders

By Daniyal Mueenuddin
Bloomsbury, 237 pages

My first brush with Pakistani writer Daniyal Mueenuddin’s material was in the pages of the New Yorker. I don’t remember the exact year but I had noticed the title of the story (Nawabdin Electrician) and the author’s name—not a very common feature in the noted American weekly. I was not going to miss it.

I remember reading the story and not being very impressed by it. I think I read it off the web, maybe after downloading the story and printing it out. I must have read it on the go—I admit that’s not a very good way of reading stories but that’s how I read books. We all live hurried lives. Anyway, I had decided that it was not a good story and after reading it, I had forgotten about it.