The art of storytelling has the power to inspire and spark a fresh sense of life. This year, Verve Storytellers is giving you the opportunity to pick the best narratives in Indian storytelling that won your heart in 2016. So go forth and pick the book that made your year.
We’ve had countless debates shortlisting the 10 books that made it herefrom all the gems that 2016 saw. If you have a favourite that you think should be part of this list,email us (or include it below). If we agree, we may even bring in a wildcard entry!
What awaits one lucky voter at the finish line? A chance to win all of these books! Do your book shelf a solid this year, won’t you?
(Click through the images to view the summary of each read)
The Read: One Point Two Billion
The Storyteller: Mahesh Rao
In a country brimming with 1.2 billion people, where each person has his or her own story and every story has its own twists and turns – the author, Mahesh Rao, has penned 13 short stories that will, at the end, leave you wanting more. Capturing every shade of life with flair and writing stories that are witty, powerful and moving at the same time, he takes us through the lives of his characters from all around the country. From the rich and refined to the poor and naive, he explores various demographics and types of relationships, all the while staying true to the individual plots.
The Read: The Gene
The Storyteller: Siddhartha Mukherjee
While his first book spoke about the greatest disease known to man, Pulitzer Prize- winner Siddhartha Mukherjee’s latest work focuses on genes, the essence of every living person. The biography also traces the history of genetics in an engaging way. Interspersed with stories from the author’s own life and family history– many instances of which will move you – it’s a real page-turner. If you're interested in heredity, nature and nurture or how our lives are shaped by these factors, spend your time devouring this book.
Music Masti Modernity: The Cinema Of Nasir Husain
The Read: Music Masti Modernity: The Cinema Of Nasir Husain
The Storyteller: Akshay Manwani
The story of an acclaimed but still quite underappreciated director, Music Masti Modernity takes a look at the cinema of Nasir Husain. His hit musicals, from Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Teesri Manzil, Caravan and Yaadon Ki Baaraat to Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, appealed to cinema goers of all generations and his tunes are hummed and celebrated to this day. Through interviews and insighful inputs from Bollywood’s noted names, Akshay Manwani’s latest read examines the magic behind Husain’s movies, and all that went into making him a great director.
The Read: Being the Other
The Storyteller: Saeed Naqvi
A historical memoir, journalist Naqvi’s tome takes a look at the division of Muslims and Hindus in the modern era, shaped by communal tensions. From sectarian murders to communal politics, relogious strife and more, India’s history has been shaped by the differences between the two religions - an aftermath of British rule in India. Partly biographical, the book explores the predicament of north India’s Muslims.
The Read: An Era of Darkness
The Storyteller: Shashi Tharoor
A year and a half ago, Tharoor’s speech at Oxford, delineating the reasons England owes reparation to India for its years of colonisation, was met with much applause and went viral on the internet. Now, the author-politician takes off in the same vein to pen his reflections on the ills of the British rule in a thought-provoking book. Using anecdotes and historical references, Tharoor, in his signature style, gives readers a lesson in history and in the legacy our former rulers left behind. While focusing on the ‘darkness’ of the Raj, the tome gives us an all-round view of the political milieu of the times as well. A gripping read, An Era Of Darkness is a window into 200 years of our past. As the author rightly puts it, ‘…sometimes the best crystal ball is a rear-view mirror’.
The Read: A Book of Light
Edited by Jerry Pinto
In 2012, Pinto’s novel Em and the Big Hoom drew upon his experiences with his mother, who was bipolar. This new collection of stories traces similar experiences of readers who have known or lived with parents and family members dealing with mental illness. Both empowering and moving, A Book Of Light - that explores the debility of the human mind - touches the heart of the reader with the turn of every page.
The Read: Swimmer Among The Stars
The Storyteller: Kanishk Tharoor
Having published short fiction earlier, Kanishk Tharoor unfolds unexpected life experiences with his debut collection of short stories, Swimmer Among the Stars: Stories. A delightful collection of fictional works, the book traverses themes of magic realism and surrealism, and enables readers to think of the world in a different light. It will make readers ponder, laugh and smile at several occasions.
The Read: Selection Day
The Storyteller: Aravind Adiga
‘I, too, have a secret,’ starts the prologue, and you’re immediately gripped by the plot. The book centres around the lives of two brothers, Manjunath and Radha as they rise in the world of the sport. Travel through the slums, streets and stadiums of Mumbai that Adiga brings alive. The tome, focusing on Manju’s path to self-discovery and his interpersonal relationships – the friendship with fellow cricketer Javed being a highlight –is sure to strike a chord with fans of Adiga’s work.
The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad
The Read: The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad
The Storyteller: Twinkle Khanna
Making people laugh is not an easy job but actor-turned-writer Twinkle Khanna does it with flair, as we learn through her new read, The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad. A young girl whose progressive idea transforms her village; a lady who finds love in her old age; a man who wears sanitary pads to understand women’s issues –Twinkle Khanna’s second book is a collection of short stories that make you think and smile. The self-titled Mrs Funnybones’ first attempt at fiction, The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad, focuses on women-centric issues that are on everyone’s minds but seldom talked about; and each story is peppered with her trademark wit.
The Read: The Unquiet Land
The Storyteller: Barkha Dutt
In her debut non-fiction book, This Unquiet Land, eminent TV anchor and news editor Barkha Dutt takes a look at contemporary India and the fault lines that shape it. These fault lines are many – the place of women; religion that causes intense hatred between different groups; ‘secular’ politics; terror that is routinely attacking different parts of the country; and Kashmir, that is a breeding ground of violence and the centre of a proxy war that has claimed countless lives. In language that is crisp, evocative and precise, with stark individual stories placed against an informative, historical background, Dutt has written a disturbing account of a very unquiet land that is in grave danger of imploding, even as it appears to be blooming from the outside.
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