In My Hands Today…

Last Man in Tower – Aravind Adiga

Ask any Bombaywallah about Tower A of the Vishram Co-operative Housing Society and you will be told that it is unimpeachably pucca. Despite its location close to the airport and bordered by slums, it has been pucca for some fifty years. But then Bombay has changed in half a century – not least its name – and the world in which Tower A was first built is giving way to a new city, a Mumbai of new development and new money; of wealthy Indians returning with fortunes made abroad.

When real estate developer Dharmen Shah offers to buy out the residents of Vishram Society, planning to use the site to build a luxury apartment complex, his offer is more than generous. Yet not everyone wants to leave; many of them have lived in Vishram for years, many of them are no longer young. But none can benefit from the offer unless all agree to sell.

As tensions rise, one by one those who oppose the offer give in to the pressure of the majority, until only one man stands in the way of Shah’s luxury high-rise: Masterji, a retired schoolteacher, once the most respected man in the building. Shah is a dangerous man to refuse, but as the demolition deadline looms, Masterji’s neighbours – friends who have become enemies, acquaintances turned co-conspirators – may stop at nothing to score their payday.

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In My Hands Today…

The Yacoubian Building – Alaa Al Aswany, Translated by Humphrey Davies

This controversial bestselling novel in the Arab world reveals the political corruption, sexual repression, religious extremism, and modern hopes of Egypt today.

All manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendor now slowly decaying in the smog and bustle of downtown Cairo: a fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed “scientist of women”; a sultry, voluptuous siren; a devout young student, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism; a newspaper editor helplessly in love with a policeman; a corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify his desires.

These disparate lives careen toward an explosive conclusion in Alaa Al Aswany’s remarkable international bestseller. Teeming with frank sexuality and heartfelt compassion, this book is an important window on to the experience of loss and love in the Arab world.

In My Hands Today…

The River of Lost Foodsteps: Histories of Burma – Thant Myint U

For nearly two decades Western governments and a growing activist community have been frustrated in their attempts to bring about a freer and more democratic Burma – through sanctions and tourist boycotts – only to see an apparent slide towards even harsher dictatorship. But what do we really know about Burma and its history? And what can Burma’s past tell us about the present – and even its future?

In The River of Lost Footsteps, Thant Myint-U tells the story of modern Burma, in part through a telling of his own family’s history, in an interwoven narrative that  is by turns lyrical, dramatic, and appalling. His maternal grandfather, U Thant, rose from being the schoolmaster of a small town in the Irrawaddy Delta to become the UN secretary-general in the 1960s. And on his father’s side, the author is descended from a long line of courtiers who served at Burma’s Court of Ava for nearly two centuries. Through their stories and others, he portrays Burma’s rise and decline in the modern world, from the time of Portuguese pirates and renegade Mughal princes through the decades of British colonialism, the devastation of World War II, and a sixty-year civil war that continues today and is the longest-running war anywhere in the world. The River of Lost Footsteps is a work both personal and global, a distinctive contribution that makes Burma accessible and enthralling.

In My Hands Today…

Only Time Will Tell – Jeffrey Archer

The Clifton Chronicles is Jeffrey Archer’s most ambitious work in four decades as an international best-selling author.

The epic tale of Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1919, in the back streets of Bristol. His father was a war hero, but it will be twenty-one tumultuous years before Harry discovers the truth about how his father really died and if, in fact, he even was his father.

Only Time Will Tell takes a cast of memorable characters from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take his place at Oxford, or join the fight against Hitler’s Germany.

In Jeffrey Archer’s masterful hands, you will be taken on a journey that you won’t want to end, even after you turn the last page of this unforgettable yarn, because you’ll be faced with a dilemma that neither you, nor Harry Clifton could ever have anticipated.