At 27, Fatima Bhutto has a CV that young people her age would give their right arm for -- despite her bloodied genealogy. But we aren't talking about her education at Columbia or at London's School of Oriental and African Studies. Nor are we alluding to her having been George Clooney's love interest at one point. Or the fact that this outspoken young woman from Karachi is the author of two books, and writes columns for The Daily Beast. It's her next book that the world is awaiting with a sense of intense anticipation. Here's how she is described on the cover of her Bhutto family memoir, Songs of Blood and Sword (Penguin): Granddaughter to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, executed 1979; niece to Shahnawaz Bhutto, murdered 1985; daughter of Mir Murtaza, assassinated 1996; and niece to Benazir Bhutto, assassinated 2007.
Fatima's account of the history and dynamics of four generations of one of the world's most fascinating political dynasties promises to be as riveting as it is provocative. Watch out for it in April. And no, the book won't let you in on what transpired between Clooney and Fatima.
SPOT THE AUTHOR
Rarely has a novel got as many tongues wagging (especially after a few glasses of wine) as Roli's Hindutva, Sex and Adventure. It's a fictional account of a foreign correspondent who comes to work in India, a country he left behind as a child with memories of his nanny's luscious breasts. The novel chronicles the sexcapades of the foreign correspondent, who lives, as most of them do, in Nizamuddin East and is very soft on L.K. Advani (which may be why the pro-Hindutva Francois Gautier is on top of everybody's mind, though people who know him insist he's happily married and gets turned on by the colour saffron). The name of the author, John MacLithon, is the pseudonym of a foreign correspondent who says he has lived in India for two decades. The author's bio is both impressive and suspiciously familiar: he has interviewed six Indian prime ministers, dodged bullets on the India-Pakistan border and has covered the Mumbai riots (Is he Mark Tully? Or John Elliot? The speculative list just gets bigger.) And yes, he's unabashedly pro-Hindutva. He lives in India with his partner and writes regularly for Indian publications. Roli's Pramod Kapoor is just loving the guessing game that the author bio has triggered, and plans to unveil the book with a panel of foreign correspondents. To tease the audience further, the publisher will announce that the author is present in the room, but not declare hs name. That must just turn out to be a 'Spot The Author' party. We wonder who this fictional journalist of Babri Masjid vintage is who gets told off by a woman with these words: "I gave you my virginity, and you are asking me to have an abortion."
INDOMITABLE AT 95
Those close to Khushwant Singh are privy to his obsession with death (he would visit the Lodi Road crematorium to get over his fear of death, as described in his novel, Delhi), and his talk of expecting to go any minute. He has cut down his social engagements and doesn't receive as many visitors as in the past at his darbar in Sujan Singh Park. But even at 95, Singh is as prolific as ever, and can put many a young writer to shame. This June will see the launch of Absolute Khushwant, which is his take on life, death and most things inbetween. So, you can expect your doses of unconventional wisdom from the self-styled dirty old man on his favourite subjects: love, sex, marriage, adultery, Indira Gandhi and her late son Sanjay. But there's no chapter on Maneka Gandhi. Khushwant is also working on a novel -- he's believed to have said it'll be his last. We hope not!
OH NO, NOT AGAIN
Here's another book with a Khushwant Singh connect. The grand old man of Delhi's literati not only spotted Kapil Sibal the poet, but also got Roli to publish his poems. Sibal's I Witness -- an anthology of poems he had composed as SMSes -- was out in 2008 and got panned by just about everyone who managed to read through the covers. The criticism doesn't seem to have dampened Sibal's poetic fervour -- he's made considerable progress on a second volume of poems, which is expected to be out by the end of the year. This too may come with a Picasso painting on the cover.
The last time Sibal wrote on subjects as wide-ranging as his wife Promila's eyes, the POTA, the 123 civilian nuclear deal, global warming, Antarctica and Twenty20. Will we now see poetry inspired by the Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation?
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