On the racks – March 2020

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Factfulness

Author                  : Hans Rosling (Co-authored by Ola
                                Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund)
Publisher             : Sceptre
Pages                    : 353; 499

When asked simple questions about global trends — why the world’s population is increasing; how many young women go to school; how many of us live in poverty — we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.

In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and a man who can make data sing, Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens, and reveals the ten instincts that distort our perspective.

It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.

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Ghachar Ghochar

Author                  : Vivek Shanbhag (Translated from
Kannada by Srinath Perur)
Publisher             : Harper
Pages                    : 128; 299

Ghachar Ghochar is the English-language debut of noted Kannada writer Vivek Shanbhag’s work. The story is about how money controls the lives of a poor family. From a cramped, ant-infested house to a spacious bungalow, the family finds itself making a transition in many ways. The narrator, a sensitive young man, is numbed by the swirls around him. All he can do is flee every day to an old-world cafe, where he seeks solace from an oracular waiter.
As members of the family realign their equations and desires, new strands are knotted, others come apart, and conflict brews dangerously in the background. Translated from Kannada by Srinath Perur, the book is a suspenseful, playful and ultimately menacing story about the shifting consequences of success.

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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Author                  : Ocean Vuong
Publisher             : Penguin Press
Pages                    : 237; 1,499

This book is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late 20s, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was
born — a history whose epicentre is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation.

At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class and masculinity. Asking questions that are of topical relevance to American people, as they are beset with addiction, violence and trauma, but layered in words of compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard. With stunning urgency and grace, the book focuses on people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The questions of how to survive, and make it moments of joy power the most important debut novel of many years.

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