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HT Picks: The week’s most interesting reads

By November 12, 2018No Comments

Source : Hindustan Times

A feminist classic, an exploration of what could be if extinct species are re-introduced, and the collected works of an Indian English poet



Mira Cheriyan is both actor and witness in The Salt Doll. When she is part of the action, she is the salt doll which dissolves in the sea and loses identity. This, according to Mira, is the feminine way of experiencing. When she witnesses and reports, she is like quicksilver; she touches everything while remaining untouched. Alternating between these two modes, Mira tells a dazzling, savage, sophisticated tale.

Mira’s life with Nanjundan is presented in vivid segments. The scenes , rich and powerful in themselves, are part of the central theme of separation of husband from wife, parent from child, one race from the next. It is a theme at once violent and instinctual, and Daniels Ramanujan has found a style richly adequate to its telling. In its rapid kaleidoscope of characters and scenes, its prodigality of language, and above all, in its energy and compassion, The Salt Doll presents readers with a Whitmanesque celebration of life.



From the Siberian permafrost to balmy California, scientists across the globe are working to resurrect all kinds of extinct animals, those that have just left us to those that have been gone for many thousands of years. Their tools in this hunt are both fossils and cutting-edge genetic technologies. Some of these scientists are driven by sheer curiosity; others view the lost species as a powerful weapon in the fight to save rapidly disappearing ecosystems.

Science journalist Torill Kornfeldt travelled the world to meet the men and women working to bring extinct animals back from the dead. Along the way, she saw a mammoth that has been frozen for 20,000 years, and visited the places where these furry giants once walked. It seems certain that they and other lost species will walk the earth again, but what world will that give us? And is any of this a good idea?



‘In Vijay’s intelligent, self-aware meditations on mortality and human folly in this final and complete volume of his poems, readers will come to as close an apprehension of the nature of epiphany as is possible – to those sudden illuminations of the spirit that can, without warning, light up flares in our dull, corporeal bodies. The 111 poems in this slender volume written over his brief lifetime… display… a keen understanding of science and its uncompromising rationality (“radium decays a little bit at a time”), of the temporary bonds of love and desire, of waddling ducks and arching cats, of the particular genealogies of speech that Vijay came to inherit through his father, his grandparents, his mother and aunts, and of the questing history of our bipedal species… In the title poem of this volume, ‘These were my Homes’, Vijay tracks a path from the safe womb to the single “bed in which to breathe my last of air”. I can think of few poets who have better traversed that eternal arc’.

-from the introduction by Rukmini Bhaya Nair



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