Frying Pan and Other Stories: Review

Frying Pan and Other Stories By Raja

Published By: Leadstart Publishing, Mumbai


Review by The Free Press Journal, Jan 2009
“A poignant pot-pourri of stories that will grab the attention of young and old alike. Each story has a moral and appeal of its own that can reach people from various strata of life. The collection is relevant to our time and touches issues pertaining to friendship, caste, women’s rights and empowerment with much sensitivity. Love seems to be the basis for many of the stories, passion is evident in some of them – be it for a lover, from freedom, empowerment, or in general for a better life”

Review By Abhilash Vijayan, Debonair, April 2009:
Rustic Touch
“The themes of the 27 stories in this slim collection are relevant to our times. Issues such as social challenges of caste and class, women’s rights and empowerment, friendship, love ( or rather the search for the true meaning of love ) form the base for quite a few stories. The other themes that the stories deal with are freedom and teh need to excercise it responsibly, a passion for living versus a passionate living, hope, reformation and transformation, human foibles and failings.”

Review By Abhilash Vijayan Sahara Time 28th March 09:
Malgudi Revisited
“A unique collection of short stories that bring out the joys and sorrows of charcters belonging to different walks of life. The themes of the 27 stories in this slim collection are relevant to our times. Issues such as social challenges of caste and class, women’s rights and empowerment, friendship, love ( or rather the search for the true meaning of love ) form the base for quite a few stories. The other themes that the stories deal with are freedom and teh need to excercise it responsibly, a passion for living versus a passionate living, hope, reformation and transformation, human foibles and failings.
The characters are drawn from different walks of life – barber, bachelor, child, dalit, brahmin, married people, petty shop-owner, master, maid, government official etc; There is a distinct malgudi touch in most of the stories. Characters aare presented as true to life as possible. Th cover story, ‘Frying Pan’, has a good moral theme. The Anand stories remind us of RK Narayan’s Swamy.
In ‘Dasi Street’ the dasi Peraman’s altruistic nature helps protagonist find himself. Each piece has a moral lesson. In ‘Faustian Deal’ Venkatraman, even in this age of instant gratification, picks himself up in the nick of time from living a life of regret.
The plot structure of teh book is simple and straight forward. The style is a combination of creative, personal expression and artistic integrity. The characters are introduced very casually, for example in ‘The Prime and the Barber’. The language is very down-to-earth and there is nothing very ostentatious about it. The narratives are gripping and compelling. Using teh small canvas of teh short story, Raja is able to lay a sumptuous spread of diverse themes and characters who are as many as there are people in the world.
The reader gets the feeling that the author wants the reader to know that it tkes different types of people to make the world. The larger concern of teh book is about life and morality, but the author refrains form didacticism. His stories, though apparetly simple, have an underlying quality of the need to hold on to a sound value system in life.
If you want to unearth and experience the joys of teh simple facets of life and enhance its quality you will have to read Raja’s Frying Pan and Other Stories. The writer finds extraordinary things in ordinary experiences of life.” 



The bumblebees and other stories : Review

The bumblebees and other stories

Written by Seema Chatterjee ( read interview here ) 

Published By : Leadstart Publishing Company, India

Review by Abhilesh Vijayan in Debonair, April 2009


Bedtime tales to cherish: This is a unique collection of stories of beautiful witches, clever dwarfs, playing cards which come alive… The tales capture the fantasy of children and teenagers with interesting insights into humanity as one reads along.
The stories are well written and captivating. An interesting read for children as well as adults
as they are thrown into memories of their childhood. Enjoyable and fascinating. A must read.


Review by Abhilash Vijayan, Sahara Time, 11th April 2009.


Magic Pot:
The stories comprising witches and dwarfs succeed in evoking the imagination of the young readers.

The Bumblebees and the other stories comprises tales of beautiful witches, clever dwarfs and playing cards ( which come alive as the clock strikes twelve ), as well as the adoption of a young girl  by an elderly couple. The Bumblebee’s dream for a child finally comes true. These tales capture the fantasy of children and teenagers besides giving interesting insights into human psychology.
‘Marriage vows at wizard ton’, is a story of three beautiful witches, who live in wizard ton and indulge in magic, as they hex and wreck, zing and zap, leap or creep casting spells on anyone who is foolish enough to cross their path. Their father Whacko and mother Saletia are worried that they may not find suitable beaux. With the connivance of Vippy, a zippy witch, Saletia manages to find suitors for her three enchanting daughters.
‘The Face’ is a story of a young aristocrat who cannot look in the mirror as he is traumatized by his reflection. He lives in Face Land and his mother Pink face is one of the prettiest woman he has ever seen. The story narrates how the boy overcomes his fear and learns that our face, like the eyes, is a mirror of one’s soul and one’s inner beauty is reflected in it.
The stories are well written and captivating. An interesting read for children as well as for adults, because they manage to awaken the child within grownups.



(Review of Sand Storms, Summer Rains, a novel written by Asha Iyer Kumar, Published by: Leadstart Publishing – Indian Book Publisher)

The most common dream of young men from Kerala is about going abroad, and if he happens to be a middle class wage earner, his eyes are more often than not set on the deserts of the Arabian lands. Enamoured of the riches he would reap on landing in the Gulf States, he goes the whole nine yards to make his dream come true, at whatever cost. It is a story or a reality that we have seen happening many times over, as residents of this treasure land.

It is in this much wonted background of desires and dreams of immigrants to the Gulf that Indian expat writer, Asha Iyer Kumar has set her debut novel, Sand Storms, Summer Rains.

The novel maps the lives of two men – Achu and Mustafa – who leave their villages in Kerala with the aim of earning wealth in the Gulf. The reasons for their money chase are different – while Achu is aiming for sheer affluence in his life, Mustafa is compelled by circumstances in the family to go the desert land. They are men with dissimilar characters – Mustafa, wise and realistic and Achu, ambitious and impulsive – travelling the same road. They reach the Arabian shores, only to find life hand out a raw deal that they had least expected. Their future is fraught with events that eventually force them to return, one earlier than the other. Their journey finally ends where it must – back in their villages. Just as their reasons to go to the Gulf are different, their reasons to return are also different.

Achu gains wealth at the cost of all else in his life and returns home to find life hitting a dead end, while Mustafa gives up his quest for wealth early, to seek peace and happiness with his family.

Through parallel narratives, the novel straddles the two worlds of Achu and Mustafa, who although are the protag- onists, make only part of the narrative. Much of what happens in the novel is wrested from the lives of those they have left behind in their homes. As a result, the Gulf only serves as a gentle, distant background, with not much of a reality sketch from these parts, which keeps the novel from becoming a typi- cal gulf-oriented documentary on the lives of workers here.

The author draws vivid sketches of their lives, mostly contained within the boundaries of their families and traces their rites of passage as they glide from the status of ordinary but educated villagers in Kerala to Gulfees. The char- acters are not larger than life, yet they strike a chord with their familiarity. They surprise us with their dissimilarity

and uniqueness of nature, like Achu’s indomitable wife, Devaki, or Saira, the naïve consort of Mustafa. The events in their lives, although at times severe, serve as experiences that are not al- together unknown or unheard of in such families where the men spend long years away from home. There is honesty in the way the characters render themselves to the hap- penings in their lives of which they have no control, and many of the instances and incidents in the novel are so evocative that it is difficult not to be touched.

The story may not be completely new for those of us living in the Middle East, but the manner in which it is told brings fresh in- sight into the lives of those men and their families who have who have given up all that they have in order to reach a much-vaunted position in life. The crises that arise due to conflicts between parents and progeny, between spouses, between siblings are all deftly drawn with the use count- less similes and sometimes, force- ful use of word play.

Sand Storms, Summer Rains, as the title suggests, looks at two different worlds, one swept by the shamaal in the desert land and the other washed by the monsoon in the home coun- try, both coming forth as poignant symbols of immigrant life in the Gulf.

The book will soon be available in stores in Oman, but can currently be bought on

Book reviewed by

Rachel Mary Abraham

Oman Vistas August, 2009

A Guy thing: By Suman Hossain

A Guy thing: Book Review

Written By:  Suman Hossain

Published By: Leadstart Publishers – Book Publishers in Mumbai

Review By: Ravia Gupta, The Tribune ( Spectrum ) 22nd Feb, 2009


Magical Love Story:

A debut fiction by Suman Hossain, A Guy Thing is the story of an IIT-ian, Sahil, who is a dreamer and has the courage to follow his dreams. He wants to break the norms at IIT, Delhi, and change the cliché, which he has heard from girls that “IITians are nerds”.

Sahil, unlike any other IITian, is busy ‘exploring’ the best moments of life in Delhi – He is enjoying his hostel days, blind dates, night-outs, porn videos and much more, but it’s his magical love story that takes him to a different world and makes all the difference in his life. Surrounded by shadows, in search of a lost enemy, Sahil’s dream love is following him. Oblivious of destiny’s plans, Sahil is now taken over by the chanted beauty who is like a shadow of swords in the devil land that comes prepared for destruction.

Within a month and after a few dates, Rida, his ladylove, becomes his world that now centers around Orkuting, SMSing and dating. Sahil, who made fun of his friends for chatting online,

on the mobile for hours, is now following the league. Deeply in love, Sahil is aiming high to set trends and now sure of his love for Rida, which can turnaround his life for better. Rida’s letter is now a painkiller for Sahil and makes him realise a lot of things about love.

Discovering Rida is not even over and hell breaks loose upon Sahil once again in the crowded Sarojini Nagar market, where he had experienced the minimum distance between life and death durbomb blast. But this time, it is no escape for him as Rida leaves him alone and disappears in the busy market. He receives nothing else except an SMS, saying that she will never meet him again and if he ever tries to meet her, she will kill herself.

His world comes to a standstill and he starts hating the books that promised to help build his career. His miseries are far from over as one of his hostel mates, Anjan, hangs himself to death. Sudden and strange death affects him deeply and here comes the turning point in the novel when he spots a book, which he had gifted to Rida, on Anjan’s window sill. Sahil now decides to put an end to all the mysteries surrounding him, including Anjan’s death and the most baffling enigma called love.

However, you just have to read the novel to figure out for yourself how he had created an agonizing situation for himself for absolutely nothing and how he comes out of it after meeting Rida’s father. On the whole, the novel is a good, entertaining read and offers a peep in hostel life.


‭The book of hhhmmmmmm….. – Review

The book of hhhmmmmmm……

Author: Luda Pavlova

Published By : Leadstart Publishing – Book Publisher in Mumbai

Review by: Rachana Shetty, Mid Day 6-1-08

Time to admit some facts in the new year. A voyeur lives us in all, that at some point or the other has snooped on people or opened diaries marked “confidential”, sometimes to irk, but most of the times for the sheer kick of it.

“The book of hhhmmmm” ( please do not be misled by its title ) is a diary of sorts by Luda Pavlova. The first time author, a marketing executive by day, bares her heart out , discoursing on life, how to get over the bad bits, smoking, sharing her poetry and myriad aspects of her personal life.

On one level, its a brave effort, as most personal pieces are. Some pieces are enjoyable, particularly the writer’s views on being a world citizen. But there are times when the diary starts to ramble. That with some typos take away from an otherwise interesting concept.


‭Rape, Regret and Retribution ( A stage play in three acts )


Review of “Rape, Regret and Retribution”

Book written by Subrata Das, Published by Mumbai based Leadstart Publishing 

 Reviewed by: “The Free Press Journal”, 4th Jan 2009


Rape, Regret and Retribution (R3) is a bold and realistic portrayal and ramification of a horror event that shatter the lives of two ordinary families in different Indian social strata. The play unfolds when a haughty and confident young man, Jiten, the protagonist of the play, leaves a permanent residence in a small Indian village to move to a big city nearby to lead a life as he pleases. He then becomes the center of a horrible crime – The rape and death of a young girl, Meena.

The legacy of this horrific act leaves both families shattered. Meena’s family leaves the city to avoid recollection of the incident and Jiten’s own family continues to live in a society where the idea of being guilty by association still prevails. Jiten perhaps feels some regret for his disastrous fate, but no remorse for the heinous crime that he has committed until….