A wishlist I earnestly think about II

I had started compiling a list of 13 books that I yearn for with all of my life and that once in my possession and open in front of me, lead me to never desire anything in my life for quite some time. In my last post on this topic, I had listed the first half dozen. Let me continue with this vital list.

For some reason,  I grew quite interested in the life of  حسين حاج فرج دباغ  now known as  عبدالكريم سروش, or (for all of you) Abdolkarim Soroush, a renowned Iranian thinker, reformer, Rumi scholar and a former professor at the University of Tehran.

Soroush is primarily interested in the philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, the philosophical system of Mowlana Jalaleddin Balkhi (Rumi) and comparative philosophy and is a world expert on Rumi and Persian Sufi poetry…. (now I know why I like to read him).

 He won the Erasmus Prize for 2004, in 2005, the Time magazine named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people, the Prospect magazine named him the seventh most influential intellectual in the world in 2008 and he was among the most desired thinkers the world should listen to by the FP 100 (world’s most influential elite) in Foreign Policy magazine (November 2009)….. (all the more reason)

I think I would like to begin with Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam – Essential writings of Adbolkarim Soroush.

That makes seven.

The eighth is an old favourite. Though I have already read it – a long long time ago – I miss it a lot and really look for the day I have it in my hands again and read that sparkling language again….. The book was (I will cheat again and include both the book and its sequel as one) Tales from the Mess & More Tales from the Mess, by Miles Noonan. It was in the late 1980s when I got it from the British Council library in my hometown, and read entranced, wondering at how that dry wit , well expressed in that crisp language, could transform the most banal of anecdotes into ones that persist in the mind. Ity is a tumultous 20 years since I read these books but some of them – the Commando in an Indian transit camp wishing to return to his parent unit, Col Jack Churchill’s antics and the encounter with the artillery officer, the future Field Marshal Montgomery’s parade ground escapades,  the commanding officer in WWI who wears a bright-red tunic (and his soldier’s comments), so many which still linger in my mind…… I could on and on but the very remembrance of them leaves me convulsed in laughter. perhaps in the coming days, I will try to recall some of them.

The ninth will be the definitive collection of the humorous/satirical Urdu poet Habib Jalib. I became a fan even after reading driblets of his poetry available here from some time, though I was lucky to get the complete lyrics of a couple or so of my favourites – and even wrote about them at the time I began this, though a few others wanted have been eluding me. However, there was one time that the poetry of a lot of Jalib’s famous countrymen was not available here too. However, since then I have found and acquired the diwans of Hafiz Jalandhari, Nasir Kazmi, Akhtar Sheerani and even Dilawar Figar, which leads me to hope that someday soon public benefactors like Farid Book Company and their ilk will bring out this poet’s ouevre in this benighted country….. I live and hope.

The tenth will be a simple affair. Since the last few years, I have become somewhat of an aficionado of detective series specially set somewhere in Europe, mostly Italy (Zen, Brunetti, Montalbano), Turkey – Ottoman (Yashim) or modern (Mehmet Suleyman), Hapsburg Austro-Hungary (Max Libermann), Sweden (Martin Beck, Kurt Wallander) or  China (Inspector Chen) or even South East Asia (the grumpy Inspector Singh), I think I will plump for one of these  which I am missing. Since I have all of Michael Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen series, all of the published Liebermann Papers of Dr Frank Tallis, Yashim‘s tales by Jason Goodwin and all of Inspector Singh’s travels as well as all Montalbano translated into English, I will seek some from the earlier series that I am missing…..

The choice then broadly falls between Inspector Chen Cao in Qiu Xiaolong’ Death of a Red Heroine (the first in the series but sadly missed by me) or The Mao Case (Years of Red Dust – published in French as Cité de la Poussière rouge – is not available in English yet) and the melancholic police commissioner Guido Brunetti in Donna Leon’s Death at La Fenice (the first in the series) or A Sea of Troubles (in which Signorina Elettra has a major part or so I have heard).

Three more to go….. I will really have to think hard


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