A best books list like no other

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Krishna Shastri Devulapalli, author of The Sentimental Spy, the amma of all spy thrillers, chooses his favourite books of 2016:

Tangy Tarts Hot and Sweet
Padma Lakshmi

An outstanding tell-all book about the murky world of publishing in New York. Peopled with award-winning writers, fast women, greedy agents, shady deals, and featuring the underbelly of the world’s literary capital, tarts and all, like never before. This one is a must for every book lover…wait a minute…sorry, my wife tells me it’s a recipe book and I read it when I switched medication. Still…recommended highly. If for nothing, the title and cover photo.

Animal Form
George Shilpetty

I recommend this book because it is the absolute need of the hour. A baby duck is ostracized in his village – which is just a pond, really – for having a bill that’s just a bit mushkil. The baby duck turns into an adolescent duck, moves to Bombay, and through a series of ingenious exercises prescribed by a home-grown guru, manages to turn the schnozz into an asset, get venture capital and buy a professional kabaddi team. Ideal reading for children and adults alike. Especially for the former who think they are the latter and vice versa.

My Bollywood Alphabet Book
Baby Nawab Saifeena Kapoor Khan Pataudi

(with a foreword by Mrs Funnybones)

A for Aamir, B for Big B, C for Collections, D for Digital…need I say more. A must-read for every baby aspiring to promote a film by writing an open letter to its child or grandchild in the future.

Sultans of Sicilipur
Willie Vishnu Puzo

In this outstanding first part of a trilogy, Godfather meets the Panchatantra via the Mughals channelling the Kamasutra at IIT. While for most people, that would be more than enough, the author, bless him, has decided to leave nothing to chance. There’s magic and mental illness, too, resulting in much hilarity. Imagine this: Akbar is walking through a forest when he sees a crocodile and a monkey doing it. And they are not just doing it. They are doing it reverse bhairava style. Suddenly, Birbal walks in on all three and says “Jahanpanah, this is no ordinary forest. It is the compound of IIT, Madras.” That is when a retired professor makes them an offer they can’t refuse in a distinctly Sicilian accent. Then, right in front of them, the crocodile changes into a rabbit and the monkey says wtf and decides it needs to see a therapist.

Read the book before the sequel comes out. I can’t recommend it enough.

The Tharavad of Turbulent Testicles
Jignesh Prem Babu

This year, by far, my top book has to be Jignesh Prem Babu’s The Tharavad of Turbulent Testicles, previewed in another favourite of mine, my own The Sentimental Spy. This one has Booker written all over it, with a bright pink sketch pen, most probably, by Prem Babu himself, in his own inebriated scrawl.

Sample this prose:

“Kunju threw caution to the winds, and just to be on the safe side, his residual wind to caution, and embraced Swayam violently. Swayam moaned, raised her leg and rubbed her tremendous thigh against his recently replaced hip. Automatically, answering a painful memory of his drought-ridden childhood, Kunju gripped the thunderous limb and worked it up and down methodically like the hand pump at the end of his street that yielded water only at 5 AM on alternate days, that too, in a sorry trickle.

Swayam moaned needily again. And followed it up with a snort and a gurgle. A mosquito had zoomed into her oesophagus through her open, quivery, dribbly lips.”


Krishna Shastri Devulapalli’s The Sentimental Spy is now available on Juggernaut here.


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