IN&OUTTONIGHT REVIEWS 24 Tuesday, 14 July 2009 London Lite G osh, dont they grow up fast? one minute, theyre wearing knee socks and learning to read Ladybird books. The next, theyre penning their memoirs, signing book deals for undisclosed sums and dividing their publicity campaign into territories. At nine years old, slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali has made publishing his- tory by becoming the youngest person ever to write her life story. of course, write isnt strictly what she did, literary ambition not being a priority in her slum of Garib Nagar (the area of the poor). Instead, this was penned by Indian jour- nalist Divya Dugar, who spent 10 weeks with Ali and her family in Mumbai. her story certainly belongs in a book, even if youd expect it to be fiction. she was cast in Danny Boyles film by an agent who spotted her in the street. It took her from grinding poverty to the oscars, and back again. her earnings have since been s q u a n d e r e d o n m e d i c a l expenses for her fathers broken ankle, or stolen. Im not sure I got all of it, or where it has all gone, she says. her pre-slumdog life is dispensed with in 24 pages. her mother walked out when she was two and she was raised by her father in a one-room shack. Life con- sisted of playing on the local railway line and swimming in a dirty drain- age tank full of snakes. she enjoyed filming with uncle Danny, but is comically unimpressed by the oscars. Nicole Kidman, who she filmed an advert with, was strange and vampirically afraid of sunlight. In the final chapter, Ali says: Life hasnt changed much except that Im now aware of a world much more beau- tiful than my slum. Instead of playing outside, she stays indoors so she wont get dirty. Rather than relieve herself by the railway tracks, she walks 10 minutes and spends two rupees to use a proper toilet. The sting by the News of The World, whose Fake sheikh offered her father 200,000 to buy her, is particularly depressing -- even for a child whose biological mother believes she is under a black magic spell, and whose house was recently razed in slum demolition (she now lives with an uncle). Ali hopes to spend the earnings from this book on dancing, singing and acting lessons, which makes it almost impos- sible to rate. I shall have to choose my movie roles carefully, she muses pre- cociously at the end, which is, hopefully, where her next biography will start. REVIEWSBOOKS Itdoesntcomesillierthan thistwentysomethingsaga Where does she belong now? Rubina Ali by her demolished slum; inset left, on the red carpet CRIME Still Midnight ByDeniseMina(Orion,12.99) HHHHI ThIs marks something of a departure for Denise Mina, unquestionably Britains finest unheralded crime novelist. her first six novels took the form of two trilogies, both focused on dysfunctional young Glaswegian women (one drank too much, the other ate too much) who were fiercely intelligent despite their problems. Both trilogies were as much about family as crime, both had the salty tang of authenticity. still Midnight is more of a straight- forward police procedural. It kicks off as an old Asian man is kidnapped in front of his family in a respectable Glasgow suburb. Alex Morrow, a rage-filled and obstinate senior policewoman, is initially sidelined from the case but her tenacity and dodgy family connections soon break it open. still Midnight may be a little less ambitious than Minas previous work but theres no denying her brilliance when it comes to characterisation. From cops to bad guys these are fully rounded, non-stereotypical protagonists: as with the best novelists theres nothing black-and-white in Minas world. And in Morrow, Mina gives us yet another fine flawed female character, one I hope is the subject of her own trilogy. PAUL CONNOLLY IF THE author of last years Man Booker prize-winner, The White Tiger, had any trouble writing a follow-up to his tale of a ruthless Indian entrepreneur, it doesnt show. Set between the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi in a small Indian seaside town, Adigas latest is a collection of subplots partially drawn together by a chronology of the period which comes at the end of the book. Chapters on different townspeople, including an entrepreneur whos sick of corruption, a rebellious rich schoolboy, a couple who cant conceive and a servant who gets too close to his liberal mistress, are separated by factual, guide book-like pages about the areas the characters live in. Everyone knows that the minor characters in novels are often the most interesting -- and Adiga proves that books without a central character can outclass countless conventionally written best-sellers. LAUREN PAxmAN IN ThE 16th century, the era of the Tudors, the conquest of the New World and the struggle between Catholics and Protestants, there was another conflict that was equally significant. ottoman Turkey was the most powerful empire of the age. Its sultans armies threatened Vienna, and his galleys brought terror to the coasts of Italy and spain. Roger Crowleys thrilling tales of the siege of Malta and the battle of Lepanto are so vivid you can almost hear the ring of steel and taste the tang of the sea. SImON SHAW Empires Of The Sea ByRogerCrowley (Faber,9.99) Newpaperbacks CHICk-lIT Twenties Girl BySophieKinsella(RandomHouse,18.99) HHIII THE narrator of this debut novel is Ginny, an aged spinster who lives in a crumbling mansion and who is also a world expert on moths. Her peace is threatened by the arrival of Vivien, the sister she hasnt seen since the death of their mother decades ago. The intrusion prompts painful memories and awkward questions Ginny doesnt want to answer. Poppy Adams gives us a smart take on the gothic thriller, with echoes of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? SS The Behaviour Of Moths ByPoppyAdams (Virago,7.99) CoNNELLy made his name with top-notch cop thrillers featuring LA detective harry Bosch. But here Bosch plays second fiddle to Mickey haller, the amoral defence attorney first encountered in The Lincoln Lawyer. When a fellow attorney is murdered, haller inherits his cases, including the trial of a hollywood producer accused of shooting his wife and her lover. The deeper haller delves, the more aware he is that his own life is in danger. Connelly ratchets up the tension and delivers twist-filled courtroom scenes. SS The Brass Verdict ByMichaelConnelly (Orion,6.99) THE BIG READ Slumgirl Dreaming ByRubinaAli(BlackSwan,6.99) HHHII AMBER COWAN FICTION Between The Assassinations ByAravindAdiga(AtlanticBooks,14.99) HHHHH ITS EASY to be snobby about Sophie Kinsella novels. Theyre not exactly renowned for their deep and thought- provoking subject matter. They tend to be dismissed as fluffy chick-lit that you dont need to concentrate on to read. But theres no denying that they sell well. The author has had huge success with novels such as Confessions Of A Shopaholic, which was made into a hit film. While Kinsellas popularity cannot be questioned, it can be safely argued that her latest novel will get nowhere near the silver screen. This book focuses on a late- twenties London girl, Lara, in big career trouble with boyfriend woes to match. Luckily, Laras great-aunt Sadie dies, and then comes back as a Twenties flapper girl/guardian angel to shake up Laras life, and solve said troubles and woes. Meanwhile, Lara helps right the wrongs of Sadies life, too, making everyone a winner come the end. The ridiculous plot is the main problem. Although Lara is a likeable character, and Sadie an amusing one, the story as a whole is too silly for you to really care about what happens. Die-hard Kinsella fans will enjoy the light-hearted fun, but unless you have a poolside sun lounger to waste some time on this summer, youd be better off renting a Confessions Of A Shopaholic DVD instead. REbECCAbOYCE Kinsellas bestseller: Isla Fisher in the film version of Confessions Of A Shopaholic Slumdogsfame ...butnofortune index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html