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The books that shaped my life

Every issue, we ask a prominent businessman about the books that made them the people they are today. This month we ask Shantanu Mukerji, General Manager of Zegna South Asia.

     Print Edition: January 11, 2009

Shantanu Mukerji
Every issue, we ask a prominent businessman about the books that made them the people they are today. This month we ask Shantanu Mukerji, General Manager of Zegna South Asia.

Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
I’ve never seen anything that has painted a better picture of life in Dharavi and its underworld connections. Most characters have shades of grey. It spoke about life as it is and as it should be.

Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The utility of rigour and analysis in proving “stereotypes” wrong is best shown by this book. It showed me how looking beyond the obvious can throw up dramatically different results.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie
A master stroke of mystery. I read this book 18 years back and I can still remember the lines that lead to the climax. It is a classic that shows how a play of words and characterisation can amaze with the results.

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”—it is impossible to forget the opening lines. Set at the start of the French Revolution, it showed me that the human heart behaved in much the same way then as it does now. The only thing that has perhaps changed is the human mind.

Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll
The story is a dream sequence but it tells us so much about life. When Alice asks one of the “chess pieces” why he’s running and still not moving ahead the answer is—“Oh we need to run to stay where we are or we go back. If we want to move ahead we have to run twice as fast”. I actually learnt how to play chess to be able to read this book!

Books to watch out for in 2009
There’s a lot of quality entertainment coming your way this year, especially if you’re a graphic novel fan.

The Story of My Assassins,
Tarun Tejpal Editor of legendary news site www.tehelka.com, Tarun Tejpal returns with a second novel, an intense and funny commentary, tracking the life of an iconoclastic journalist, and the attempts on his life. Due early 2009 from Harper Collins

Solo, Rana Dasgupta
Tokyo Cancelled, positioned Dadgupta as Salman Rushdie’s heir, according to The Guardian. So hopes are high for his latest novel, Solo, set in Bulgaria. Expect lyricism and fantasy. Due early 2009 from Harper Collins

Cricket: Beyond the Blues, Aakash Chopra
Ranji player and Delhi captain Aakash Chopra takes the scalpel to India’s 2008 domestic cricket scene, that oft-overlooked microcosm of the international cricketing world. Due early 2009 from Harper Collins Manto: Selected Stories, translated by Aatish Taseer Salman Rushdie calls Sadat Hasan

Manto: Selected Stories, translated by Aatish Taseer
Salman Rushdie calls Sadat Hasan Manto the “undisputed master of the Indian short story”. When he died in 1955, he had published more than 20 collections, all dangerous and troubling. This is yet another masterpiece— written from the mid-’30s on, when Partition changed the country. Released in November 2008 from Random House

Leela: A Union of Indian Erotic Verse and Art, curated by Alka Pande
Art historian Alka Pande has compiled the most sensual of India’s ancient poetry and art into a glossy book. A sure crowd-pleaser at any party. Due early 2009 from Harper Collins

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