HT Picks; New Reads - Hindustan Times
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HT Picks; New Reads

ByHT Team
Apr 13, 2024 05:34 AM IST

This week’s list of interesting reads includes a Japanese novel about food and the power and delight of taboo, a Nobel Prize winner’s volume that asks if death might serve a necessary biological purpose, and a collection of essays that journeys into the world of FN Souza

The pleasures and pressures of food

On the reading list this week is a Japanese novel about the power and delight of taboo, a book that examines the ethical costs of attempting to live forever, and essays about the art and life of FN Souza (HT Team)
On the reading list this week is a Japanese novel about the power and delight of taboo, a book that examines the ethical costs of attempting to live forever, and essays about the art and life of FN Souza (HT Team)

500pp, ₹491; Harper Collins (Looking at the power and delight of taboo)
500pp, ₹491; Harper Collins (Looking at the power and delight of taboo)

An original novel following a journalist in contemporary Japan as she investigates a serial killer convicted of luring wealthy men with cooking classes only to seduce, murder, and rob them, this is a gripping exploration of misogyny and obsession.

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Journalist Rika Machida is tapped to investigate serial killer Manako Kajii. Kajii refuses to cooperate with the press until Rika writes her a letter asking for her beef stew recipe. Set in 2011, when dairy product shortages across Japan made butter a hot commodity, Butter depicts a vivid, panoramic view of contemporary Japan as seen through a diverse cast of Japanese women. Asako Yuzuki’s novel is filled with intoxicating descriptions of food and the body and also looks deeply at the enduring power and delight of taboo.*

Who wants to live forever?

318pp, ₹699; Hachette (Asking if death might serve a necessary biological purpose and examining the social and ethical costs of attempting to live forever.)
318pp, ₹699; Hachette (Asking if death might serve a necessary biological purpose and examining the social and ethical costs of attempting to live forever.)

This is a groundbreaking exploration of the science of longevity and mortality from Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Venki Ramakrishnan. The knowledge of death is so terrifying that we live most of our lives in denial of it. One of the most difficult moments of childhood must be when each of us first realizes that not only we but all our loved ones will die — and there is nothing we can do about it. Or at least, there hasn’t been. Today, we are living through a revolution in biology. Giant strides are being made in understanding why we age — and why some species live longer than others. Could we eventually cheat disease and death and live for a very long time, possibly many times our current lifespan? Venki Ramakrishnan takes us on a riveting journey to the frontiers of biology, asking whether we must be mortal. Covering the recent breakthroughs in scientific research, he examines the cutting edge of efforts to extend lifespan by altering our physiology. But might death serve a necessary biological purpose? What are the social and ethical costs of attempting to live forever? Why We Die is a narrative of uncommon insight and beauty from one of our leading public intellectuals.*

Mining the collective unconscious

320pp, ₹4500; Niyogi Books (A subjective journey into the world of Souza)
320pp, ₹4500; Niyogi Books (A subjective journey into the world of Souza)

The Archetypal Artist is a collection of essays on the life and art of FN Souza. The artist mined images from the collective unconscious and gave them form on his canvas. These essays combining research in art history, Eastern and Western philosophy, classical literature, Jungian analysis, psychology, anthropology, religion and theatre began as a personal quest by the author Janeita Singh to seek answers to cultural constructs of life, body and sexuality. The conditioned and structured lives of men and women in society troubled her. Authoritarian narratives from religion and state thwarted attempts to attain autonomy at every step. The path to spiritual enlightenment was strewn with doubts and finding a synthesis of East and West was challenging. All this is what is grappled with in this volume on one of India’s most arresting painters.

*All copy from book flap.

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