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A handy roundup of interesting new books for September 2018 by Indian women authors, that can be added to your to-be-read list.
From this month, we will be bringing you a roundup of interesting new books that you can take a look at and maybe buy. Some of these will of course get full reviews some time, so that you get an in-depth look at them.
Editor’s note: Since these are upcoming books, the descriptions are not reviews, but blurbs taken from Amazon.
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Shaili Chopra and Meghna Pant (Penguin)
Feminist Rani is a collection of interviews with path-breaking and fascinating opinion leaders–Kalki Koechlin, Tanmay Bhatt, Gul Panag, Aditi Mittal, Gauri Sawant, and many more. These are women and men who have advocated gender equality and women’s rights through their work. These compelling conversations provide a perspective on the evolving concept of feminism in an age when women are taking charge and leading the way.
Buy your copy at Flipkart, Amazon India, and Amazon US.
Dr Swati Lodha and Swaraa Lodha (Rupa)
Told in the voice of a teenager, the book is a tongue in cheek take on things parents should and should not do. It talks about various beliefs, behaviour and biases held by most parents that make them annoying and difficult.
Meghana Gulzar (HarperCollins)
All of us know Gulzar as a film-maker, screenplay and dialogue writer, lyricist par excellence, author and poet. Because He Is… presents a facet of the icon that none of us are aware of – as a father. From her earliest memories of waking up in the morning to the strains of him playing the sitar to him writing the songs for her films now, Meghna presents an intimate portrait of a father who indulged her in every way and yet raised her to be independent and confident of the choices she made. She also records his phenomenal creative oeuvre, the many trials and tribulations of his personal and professional life, through all of which she remained a priority.
Aarti Kelshikar (HarperCollins)
Based on extensive interviews with corporate leaders – Indians as well as expatriates and repatriates, who offer insider and outsider perspectives on the psyche of the Indian in the workplace – How India Works is a guide to the cultural nuances and complexities of working in India. It will make your life in office a little easier.
Vandana Singh (Zubaan)
Speculative fiction by Vandana Singh in which her deep humanism interplays with her scientific background in stories that consider and celebrate this world and others, with characters who try to make sense of the people they meet, what they see, and the challenges they face. An eleventh century poet wakes to find he is an artificially intelligent companion on a starship. A woman of no account has the ability to look into the past. And in “Requiem,” a major new novella, a woman goes to Alaska to try and make sense of her aunt’s disappearance. Examining the revolutionary potential of ‘speculative fiction’, Singh dives deep into the vast strangeness of the universe without and within to explore the ways in which we move through space and time: together, yet always apart.
Anitha Agnihotri (Zubaan)
Set in the forests of northern Odisha, Mahuldia Days is the moving story of a young civil servant caught between her commitment to the tribal communities she knows are the original inhabitants of the forest, and the monolithic state, oblivious to the diverse realities of life on the ground. The moonlit Brahmani river snakes through the story with a life of its own while the city of the narrator’s childhood returns to her in dreams. Agnihotri creates a poignant, intense narrative layered with an awareness of the pressures of motherhood and personal love.
Khadija Masur (Penguin)
Aliya lives a life confined to the inner courtyard of her home with her older sister and irritable mother, while the men of the family throw themselves into the political movements of the day. She is tormented by the petty squabbles of the household and dreams of educating herself and venturing into the wider world. But Aliya must endure many trials before she achieves her goals, though at what personal cost?
Set in the 1940s, with Partition looming on the horizon, The Women’s Courtyard cleverly brings into focus the claustrophobic lives of women whose entire existence was circumscribed by the four walls of their homes, and for whom the outside world remained an inaccessible dream. Daisy Rockwell’s elegant and nuanced translation captures the poignance and power of Khadija Mastur’s inimitable voice.
Buy your copy at Amazon India, and Amazon US.
Sharmila Sen (Penguin Viking)
At the age of twelve, Sharmila Sen emigrated from India to the US. The year was 1982, and everywhere she turned, she was asked to self-report her race. Rejecting her new ‘not quite’ designation-not quite white, not quite black, not quite Asian-she spent much of her life attempting to blend into American whiteness. But after her teen years, watching shows like The Jeffersons, dancing to Duran Duran, and perfecting the art of Jell-O no-bake desserts, she was forced to reckon with the hard questions: Why does whiteness retain its cloak of invisibility while other colours are made hypervisible?
Part memoir, part manifesto, Not Quite Not White is a witty and poignant story of self-discovery.
Shivya Nath (Penguin)
Shivya Nath quit her corporate job at age twenty-three to travel the world. She gave up her home and the need for a permanent address, sold most of her possessions and embarked on a nomadic journey that has taken her everywhere from remote Himalayan villages to the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador. Along the way, she lived with an indigenous Mayan community in Guatemala, hiked alone in the Ecuadorian Andes, got mugged in Costa Rica, swam across the border from Costa Rica to Panama, slept under a meteor shower in the cracked salt desert of Gujarat and learnt to conquer her deepest fears.
With its vivid descriptions, cinematic landscapes, moving encounters and uplifting adventures, The Shooting Star is a travel memoir that maps not just the world but the human spirit.
Buy your copy at Flipkart, and Amazon India.
Ruby Lal (Penguin Viking)
In 1611, thirty-four-year-old Nur Jahan, daughter of a Persian noble and widow of a subversive official, became the twentieth and most cherished wife of Emperor Jahangir. While other wives were secluded behind walls, Nur ruled the vast Mughal Empire alongside her husband, and governed in his stead when his health failed and his attention wandered from matters of state. An astute politician and a devoted partner, Nur led troops into battle to free Jahangir when he was imprisioned by one of his officers. She signed and issued imperial orders, and coins of the realm bore her name.
Acclaimed historian Ruby Lal uncovers the rich life and world of Nur Jahan, rescuing this dazzling figure from patriarchal and orientalist cliches of romance and intrigue, while giving a new insight into the lives of the women and the girls during the Mughal Empire, even where scholars claim there are no sources. Nur’s confident assertion of authority and talent is revelatory. In Empress, she finally receives her due in a deeply researched and evocative biography that awakens us to a fascinating history.
Simran Chawla (Hachette India)
In an age when India is one of the strongest emerging markets and a developing superpower, tens of thousands of Indians leave the country each year to seek new lives on distant shores. What are they looking for and what do they really find?
In a first-of-its-kind narrative, journalist and American expat Simran Chawla documents the contemporary Indian immigrant experience in various corners of the world – from Alaska to the UK, Europe to Africa, the Americas to the Middle East. Searching for Home tells the stories of people who, though separated by thousands of kilometres, share experiences that continue to bind them to their homeland.
Lalita Iyer (Westland)
She was a diva, a dancing queen and a comedienne par excellence. An actress who set the box office on fire in a male-dominated Bollywood. What made her tick? What did it take to work in films across five languages, and churn out hits like Himmatwala, Chaalbaaz, Moondram Pirai, Nagina, Kshana Kshanam, Mr India, Sadma, Chandni or Lamhe?
All this did not come easily for her. An outsider in Bollywood, she was mocked for her poor accent and dubbed ‘Ms Thunder Thighs’. Sridevi had to reinvent herself many a time, whether it was by making the white salwar kameez sexy or by playing double roles with flair. Then, after she’d left it all to be a doting wife and mother, she made a brilliant comeback with a memorable role in English Vinglish. This book traces her journey and her battles against odds, and is a tribute to her as an actor and as a woman.
Aanchal Malhotra (HarperCollins)
Remnants of a Separation is a unique attempt to revisit the Partition through objects that refugees carried with them across the border. These belongings absorbed the memory of a time and place, remaining latent and undisturbed for generations. They now speak of their owner’s pasts as they emerge as testaments to the struggle, sacrifice, pain and belonging at an unparalleled moment in history. A string of pearls gifted by a maharaja, carried from Dalhousie to Lahore, reveals the grandeur of a life that once was. A notebook of poems, brought from Lahore to Kalyan, shows one woman’s determination to pursue the written word despite the turmoil around her. A refugee certificate created in Calcutta evokes in a daughter the feelings of displacement her father had experienced upon leaving Mymensingh zila, now in Bangladesh. Written as a crossover between history and anthropology, Remnants of a Separation is the product of years of passionate research. It is an alternative history of the Partition – the first and only one told through material memory that makes the event tangible even seven decades later.
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