Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Detect a Giveaway!

Last year was surprisingly bountiful for me as far as giveaways went. Among other things, I got a beautiful kalamkari apron from Sailu's Kitchen, Ashok Banker's Dance of Govinda from Itchy, a StyleMe giveaway via Kiran and a review copy of Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi. I think such luck should be passed along so I'm happy to announce my first ever giveaway --

Two copies of The Reluctant Detective by Kiran Manral 
for two lucky lovers of mystery fiction!
To try for a free copy for yourself, see how many of the following fictional detectives (reluctant or not) that you can identify. Comments will not be approved for the duration of this contest and if you have problems commenting you can always mail me your answers at sunayanaroy@gmail.com . Please do not forget to mention your email id or some other contact information so that I can let you know if you've won.

Choosing Winners
  1. The names of the commentors with 4 or more correct answers will be handed to my five year old son on slips of paper and he will choose one winner. He can't read yet, so you can be sure he will be unbiased! 
  2. Those who get 10 correct answers will get two slips each in their name for the draw while those who get all twelve will have three chances.
There is one mystery prize whose rule I will explain when I announce the prize itself. :)

Go on, get cracking:

  1. This female bounty hunter of part Italian, part Hungarian descent has a propensity to have things blown up, set on fire or otherwise destroyed when she is near.
  2. Prudence Cowley wouldn’t give you two pence for tracking her down. If you’re still wondering where to look, you’ll find her by the pricking of your thumbs.
  3. Way back in the 1930s this young German lad found himself turning detective in Berlin when a stranger on a train made off with all his money.
  4. Hardboiled and philosophical, our man is not fazed by the big sleep of pornographers. Need another clue? He shares a surname with a colourful personality from Elizabethan England.
  5. Born of Edward Stratemeyer, the many cases of this young girl detective and her friends Bess and George were famously filed by ghostwriters.
  6. Single and shrewd with it, this little old lady from St Mary Mead has a particularly sharp eye for the idiosyncrasies that characterise people.
  7. This famous fictional detective has authored, anthologised as well as edited novels, short stories, anthologies and magazines from the 1920s to the ‘70s. Care to fit the hat on this Roman mystery?
  8. Guided by their F.A.T. leader, this merry band of children love uncovering mysteries, sometimes in disguise and almost always pitted against a Goon.
  9. This half Italian lawyer-turned-detective loves her morning runs in the Windy City chill. While she’s no comforting old aunty, there’s nobody you’d rather have on your side when things are at a deadlock.
  10. First featured in Le Petit Vingtième this young reporter shares a country and its language with the older and equally renowned M. Poirot.
  11. Occasionally associated with the California Fidelity insurance company, this female detective is famous for shooting her assailant from inside a dustbin.
  12. The ten books featuring this policeman not only set the tone for contemporary police literature but also relentlessly noted the changes seen in the social and political spheres of Sweden from the 1960s to ‘70s.
Contest ends on Tuesday, 7 February 2012.

Friday, January 27, 2012

2011: The Year in Hindsight

2011 felt like a year when I ran very fast trying to keep pace with my life. The first six months, crowded with the play, my French and Italian lessons, holidays to Darjeeling and Delhi and so on had me – and by extension Vicky and Rahul – walking on a very fine line. Somehow, after my birthday, at some point the exhaustion caught up with me. We moved homes in early October and I went to Dhaka in November and Hyderabad in December but all I really remember of those months is a general feeling of exhaustion, of intense loneliness and illness.

There are some who would say I brought this on myself by doing too much too hard but we all know I’m no good at sitting still. One of the very nicest periods in this year was when Vicky and Rahul were away in Delhi and I was home alone for a week. I literally slept those days away. I had a huge list of vital chores planned but I’d wake up for the maids, doze while they worked and fall deeply asleep after they left. I had my lunches late in the afternoon and my dinners, when I had them, sometime in the middle of the night, if I happened to wake up. It was a bone-crushing weariness that I only now see was some degree of mental exhaustion. If ever my inner demons manifested themselves as physical illness, this was the time.

2011 was a year of redefining friendships. Ro put it bluntly when she said something along the lines of a friend being on your side of the fence no matter what side of the debate they were on. I found myself clinging to that definition as friends and acquaintances took sides in what I had believed to be a family matter. (My mother-in-law is on the warpath once more so 2011 was rather like re-living 2006 except that this time my well-wishers knew better than to believe her insinuations.)

The most unexpected aspect of this was how I did not rely on B and E like earlier. E was caught up in her own journey and though I badly wanted her to be my sounding board I accepted that she couldn’t. B, well, he fell by the wayside.

The year started with a holiday with Smita’di – a friend – and ended with meeting Varsha after many, many years as well as Srinivas after some three years. And you know what they say things never really changing all that much about childhood friends? They are right.

I met Maggie and Cee Kay too this year and discovered important things about both women: the former has great taste in chocolate while the latter can give you a head massage that blurs the boundaries between plain vanilla frenship and MarryMeNOWCee. I remained true to Vicky but I will confess it was a close shave. And of course, before this there were Aneela and The Toddler with The Plan, which trip has been much discussed on FB. Dipali and I did a great deal together in 2011, come to think of it.

Yes, this was certainly a year of friendships. Now to see what 2012 will bring.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Enter The Kay Woman

It seems like a very long wait since Kiran announced that her debut novel was going to be published as The Reluctant Detective. I have always enjoyed her writing, so I really looked forward to the book. To the point of blindly investing in a few extra copies feeling quite sure I would want to share them with friends and family.

My copies reached me last night and I've been surreptitiously dipping into one ever since (surreptitious because I have an Italian exam tomorrow and should really be studying). It's that kind of a book, you see. Easy to read, fast in its pace and drawing you further, deeper in even as you tell yourself you really need to get back to those other things you should be doing.

Evie has posted a review already, while Itchy has not only posted a review but also an interview with the author. Like Evie, I agree with the characterisation -- the characters are quirky and egaging but above all they are convincing. And along with Itchy I attest to its pace. Thus far there have already been two murders, an Unknown in a Velvet Smoking Jacket and a two policemen going by the nicknames of Sweaty and Swarthy. Oh, and the heroine has managed to muss up her nail polish too.

The book dances between genres, so to speak. It is ostensibly the story of how Kay Mehra found herself ferreting out the truth behind mysterious murders in her neighbourhood but it is also the story of the fears and ambitions of a housewife in her mid-30s. From her fake branded footwear to her all too human reaction when faced with an unknown corpse, Kay connects to something within us, reminding us despite her exaggerations of somebody we all know and love.

This is not my review (because I haven't finished reading it at the time of posting!) but I will write a review eventually. Till then, to know what other readers are saying as well as to find out where and how you can get a copy for yourself, click on the badge (image) above or go directly to the site.

(Note to Kiran: Evie and I were at Starmark yesterday evening and we asked for the book. They hadn't received their stocks yet but some enthusiasts had already placed orders. Exciting times!)