Of mythology, eunuchs and ghosts (IANS Books This Weekend)

New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) Learn precious lessons on how to become a hero like the great warrior Arjuna, explore concepts like creativity and the importance of teamwork recognising the value of goddess Saraswati or imagination, read the redemptive story of a eunuch haunted by her past and flick through a comic book about the power of family and friendship.

The IANS bookshelf offers interesting mythological reads and fiction this weekend.

1. Book: Invincible Arjuna; Author: Debashis Chatterjee; Publisher: Westland; Pages: 123; Price: Rs 150

Arjuna re-defined the limits of human achievement. He conquered his enemies with the sword of clarity and the shield of discrimination.

In this creative re-imagining of the story of Arjuna, Debashis Chatterjee mines the Mahabharata and discovers nine precious lessons that will enable any one of us to become heroes in our own lives. Whether it is gaining mastery over life, harnessing our will power, or prioritising action choices — these life-lessons from that most charismatic of Pandavas can truly put each one of us on the hero-path.

2. Book: An Indian Approach to Learning the Talent Sutra; Author: Devdutt Pattanaik; Publisher: Aleph; Pages: 129; Price: Rs 399

Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge. Her name is derived from the fluidity (saras) of imagination. Human imagination enables us to invent, innovate, visualise, plan and de-risk. It strips us of certainty. Every human being lives in an imagined reality.

Recognising this enables us to work with talent, build strong relationships and nurture people to face any situation with faith and patience. Failure to recognise imagination is why family-owned businesses are unable to manage professionals and how professionally-run companies end up creating ineffective, mechanistic talent management systems.

Training, learning and development are not just about skills and knowledge and competencies; they are about appreciating the human-animal, recognising that neither we nor those around us are programmable machines that we can plug and play. Managing people, hence relationships, is key to the survival of an organisation.

Derived from Devdutt Pattanaik’s influential bestseller Business Sutra, the book will help employers and managers become more inclusive leaders who are able to carry their team along with them.

3. Book: The Parcel; Author: Anosh Irani; Publisher: HarperCollins; Pages: 256; Price: Rs 399

The Parcel’s astonishing heart, soul and unforgettable voice is Madhu — born a boy, but a eunuch by choice — who has spent most of her life in a close-knit clan of transgender sex workers in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s notorious red-light district. Madhu identifies herself as a “hijra” — a person belonging to the third sex, neither here nor there, neither man nor woman.

Now, at 40, she has moved away from prostitution, her trade since her teens, and is forced to beg to support the charismatic head of the hijra clan, Gurumai. One day Madhu receives a call from Padma Madam, the most feared brothel owner in the district: a “parcel” has arrived — a young girl from the provinces, betrayed and trafficked by her aunt — and Madhu must prepare her for her fate. Despite Madhu’s reluctance, she is forced to take the job by Gurumai.

As Madhu’s emotions spiral out of control, her past comes back to haunt her, threatening to unravel a lifetime’s work and identity. This is a dark, devastating but ultimately redemptive novel that promises to be one of the most talked-about publications of the year.

4. Book: Ghosts; Author: Raina Telgemeier; Publisher: Scholastic; Pages: 239; Price: Rs 750

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbour lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna.

Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake — and her own.

Raina Telgemeier has masterfully created — in comic-book style — a moving and insightful story about the power of family and friendship, and how it gives us the courage to do what we never thought possible.

–IANS

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