Two recent books

On the way back from Europe I finished Jean Naggar’s Sipping from the Nile. I know Jean’s daughter Jennifer back from college, and when I heard her mother published a book about growing up in Egypt in the 1940’s and 50’s, I ordered it. Jean’s family are exiled from Egypt by the geopolitical events of the Egyptian revolution of 1956, but the book is more of a personal account of her life before the disruption.

Jean has a large and loving family — too many to remember — and I really enjoyed hearing about her family traditions, celebrating the Jewish holidays, interacting with house hold staff, and learning more about her family as she grew up.

After finishing Sipping from the Nile, I read Aravind Adiga‘s White Tiger. (It was a long flight.) First of all — what a name! White Tiger was an interesting engaging read, the story of the son of a poor rickshaw driver who upgrades his position by being a taxi driver, and then having a fleet of taxi’s. Balram, the main character, narrates the book in a series of letters to the Chinese premier, and there are many comparisons made between the two countries, mostly humorous.

The story is not the same as Slumdog Millionaire, but somehow it has a bit of an echo. Perhaps its the time for stories of modern India to burst into modern American / English consciousness. Both have that rags to riches, pull yourself up by your bootstraps sort of theme; both “expose” the Indian democracy as a flawed but ultimately redemptive force.

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