The Five Best Reads of 2012

With the year almost drawing to an end, it is that time when we take a trip down the days and realize that the book releases of 2012 were far from disappointing. EXEC takes a look at the five best reads of the year that went by.




Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil

Straight from the mind of a performance poet, journalist turned novelist, Narcopolis is a trip through the mind of a man who has been an alcoholic and a drug addict for 20 odd years now.

A long winding road through the dinghy lanes of Bombay in the 70s, the book is an experience. With doors opening up to a world of hazy opium addiction; pimps, prostitutes and poets; a glorious past and stories from every corner of the city, the sheer intimacy with which the story unfolds is brilliant.

Agreed, the book is pretentious in tone and bits, but no one can take away the frenzy of emotions and feelings that Thayil works up to perfection.

The Racketeer, John Grisham

Back to his familiar realm of legal storytelling, John Grisham’s new novel is guaranteed to thrill. As small-town Virginia lawyer named Malcolm Bannister gets caught up in an issue of money laundering for a drug-lord client, things are not what they appear to be.

“Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.”  As you reach the highs and lows of the book, you will realize that putting it down is not an option you have.

Barack Obama: The Making of the Man, David Maraniss

Owing, no doubt, to four years of determined research, David Maraniss’s telling of Obama’s story is peppered with several tidbits that would serve you well in a cocktail conversation. For example, the unexpected fact that many of Obama’s closest friends were Pakistanis, when he was a student. Or maybe that the great man was once a pot-smoker.

There are several similarities between Maraniss’s Barack Obama and Alex Haley’s legendary saga Roots: The Saga of an American Family. In both the books, the protagonists are on a quest to discover their true identity. More obviously, it is about a family that traces its roots to different corners of the globe … only to surface finally in America. As one shining beacon of hope. In this case, Obama- 44th President of the United States. The first American President of colour. And in this book, Pulitzer-winning journalist Maraniss tells the story of a modern-day Kunta Kinte, digging into the past, to make sense of the present.

Dongri to Dubai, S Hussain Zaidi

Those of you planning on picking up this book for some harmless, vicarious thrills won’t be disappointed. In the lawless Mumbai of lore that Zaidi has painstakingly recreated for his readers, execution-style murders are a plenty, drive-by shootings are commonplace and the occasional courtroom killing will shock even the most jaded enthusiasts of crime stories. The author morphs effortlessly from crime journalist to storyteller and this seriously ups the ante on the entertainment value of the book. Conscious of the fact that he might lose his readers (particularly, the non-Mumbaikaars) to the horde of names, dates and locales, Zaidi has given himself some creative licence (with the conversations, for example) and even added some frills (one hilariously bizarre sex scene comes to mind). It is to his credit that despite this, the book never loses its gravity. Every detailed rendering of a shootout or an encounter carries with it the weight of research, in addition to being worthy of a Bollywood action-drama.

 Operation Lipstick: Mission for Mr Right, Pia Heikkila

Anna Sanderson is not your average thirty-something. She’s a war journalist based in one of the most troubled countries in the world—Afghanistan. tough as nails, Sexy, and ballsy as hell, she won’t stop at anything to get her scoop or the man she wants. But the game changes when she meets Mr Delectable—handsome, aloof, and secretive, he frustratingly keeps Anna guessing if he’s into her or not. Things take a nasty turn when Anna’s best friend Kelly discovers that her boyfriend, Rich, has been cheating on her and Anna unearths a series of secrets which tie in her man. The mission—Operation Lipstick—takes Anna on a journey like never before into the heart of the Helmand province, and the lair of the most feared movements of the world—the Taliban. Will Kelly get her revenge? Will Anna survive to tell her story? Will she get her man?


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