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A handy roundup of interesting new books for November 2018 by Indian women authors (and one by a non-Indian author that we think is a must-read), that can be added to your to-be-read list.
We bring 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.
Meera H Sanyal (HarperCollins)
8 November 2016 was a black swan event in Indian history. At one stroke, 86 per cent of the currency in circulation was demonetized, causing confusion, chaos and endless misery to the common Indian. While the Modi government claimed that it was the silver bullet that India needed to eliminate many of its longstanding problems such as black money, corruption, tax evasion and terror funding, the months that followed proved it otherwise. The return of 99.7 per cent of the banned 500 rupee and 1,000-rupee notes showed that the RBI’s idea of Demonetization Dividend was nothing but a mirage. In the process, livelihoods of millions in the informal sector were destroyed, causing enormous distress to farmers and, traders and forcing many micro, small and medium businesses into bankruptcy.
One of India’s most respected bankers, Meera H. Sanyal provides the most comprehensive analysis of the policy, its execution and pitfalls. The Big Reverse presents unprecedented insights backed by data, history and research. And as a result, answers the questions that still continue to haunt Indians, on the what, why and how of demonetization.
Buy your copy here.
Esther David (HarperCollins)
When Juliet and Romiel get married and relocate to Israel, they rent out their Apartment 107 in Ahmedabad’s Shalom India Housing Society to Jews. Each character who inhabits the house has a story to tell: about run-ins with the other residents, the diminishing community of Jews, cross-cultural conflicts, and the difficulty of choosing between India and Israel. Prophet Elijah, whom the Bene Israel Jews of western India believe in, plays an important role in their lives, appearing at critical or amusing moments and wreaking havoc with his mischief, but ensuring that ultimately peace prevails.
Bombay Brides – as most Jewish men of Ahmedabad are married to women from Mumbai – is drawn from Jewish homes in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kochi, Kolkata and Alibaug. This is a story about home, heritage, rites, rituals, roots and what it means to be one of the last survivng members of a community in a vast multi-cultural country like India.
Namita Gokhale (Penguin Viking)
Kumaon, 1856. History has already begun its steady march. Six native women clad in black and scarlet pichauras huddle around Naineetal Lake, attempting to cleanse it of ominous influences. These are the days of Upper Mall Road (for Europeans and their horses) and Lower Mall Road (‘for dogs, servants and other Indians’). Amidst a theatre of British impunity, feisty young Tilottama Dutt, whose uncle is hung when he protests the reigning order, and her daughter, Deoki, confront change as Indians and as women.
Things to Leave Behind brings alive the romance of the mixed legacy of the British-Indian past. Full of the fascinating backstory of Naineetal and its unwilling entry into Indian history, throwing a shining light on the elemental confusion of caste, creed and culture, illuminated with painstaking detail, here is a fascinating historical epic and Namita Gokhale’s most ambitious novel yet.
Andaleeb Wajid (Penguin)
Tired, she soon fell asleep to the sound of Zain’s gentle breathing. The crickets outside seemed to have finally gone quiet. An hour later, the screams began.When Muneera finds out she’s inherited her uncle’s old house on Myrtle Lane, she decides to move in with her husband, Zain, and their three-year-old son, Adnan. The promise of saving money and living in one of Bangalore’s nicest areas has them packing up their old lives at their tiny apartment and shifting to this sprawling bungalow.
But they soon realize there’s more to the house than its old-world charm. Bloody hands reach out of the walls; there’s a boy whom only Adnan can see; and every night, they’re woken up by loud, blood-curdling screams. As the terrors threaten to tear their little family apart, they discover the shocking extent of the house’s gory history. And unless they manage to leave, they’re going to become a part of it.
Rakshanda Jalil (Bloomsbury)
The Great War, as the First World War was referred to, saw the service of over 1.3 million Indians, of whom 74,000 never made it back home. For their families, the War was something they could not fully fathom. Soldiers from the Indian subcontinent won over 12,908 awards for bravery, including 11 Victoria Crosses. Yet this unprecedented show of valour by Indian soldiers remains largely unsung and unrecognised-particularly in India.
Commemorating hundred years of the end of the First World War, this volume brings together diverse voices-Rabindranath Tagore, Mulk Raj Anand, Sarojini Naidu, Mohamed Ali, Chandradhar Sharma Guleri and many more-that reflect a variety of attitudes among Indians towards the War. Included too are Rakhshanda Jalil’s original translations of the works of Urdu poets of the time capturing their responses to the War. This volume of writings, originally written in Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and English, attempts to recognise and remember the contribution of the unknown soldiers to the Great War.
Sampoorna Chatterjee & Karthika Nair (Context)
It all began, perhaps inevitably, at Kala Ghoda. Poets Sampurna Chattarji and Karthika Naïr met in February 2016 during the annual arts festival, and decided to test the possibilities of a dialogue in verse across latitudes. With one based in Mumbai and the other in Paris, they first sought a common denominator. And the link they chose was an integral part of their respective megalopolises: the local rail networks -– the Paris Métro and the Mumbai Suburban Railway. The poets drew inspiration from the train networks to blueprint their modus operandi: just as each train may stop at a station, and be joined by another train, their poems too are linked to each other. In the first section of the book, the last line of Karthika’s poem is reprised in the first line of Sampurna’s response, and vice-versa. In the second section, it is the first line of Sampurna’s poem that becomes the last line of Karthika’s subsequent poem, with that pattern then repeated in reverse.
Brilliantly visualised by the renowned French illustrator Joëlle Jolivet and the fantastically talented young Gond artist, Roshni Vyam, Over and Under Ground in Mumbai and Paris is an attempt to celebrate the multiplicity of gazes – through word and image, language and shape and colour.
Mitali Meelan (Black Ink)
The Adhikaris are a regular, happy family – or so they will have you believe. But at the dinner table, a silence hangs heavy over the three children, especially Arihant and Ishan. Twenty-two-year-old Arihant possesses a secret talent and a shattered heart. He yearns for his muse and ex-girlfriend, only to surprise himself when they finally meet after a long and difficult time apart. If only Ishan could share some brotherly advice rather than sneak about, aloof and increasingly suspicious. Ishan twenty-eight, seems to have the job of his dreams – or at least, his parents’ dreams. But how long can he stay torn between two worlds? How long before someone finds out about his evenings: about the place he goes to and the woman he sees. Here is a story set in the calm before a storm – after which nothing will be the same for this seemingly happy household.
Indian Express (Penguin)
The iconic dome of the Taj, charred on the first night of the siege, is long rebuilt, the bloodstains in the concourse of the railway terminus washed clean. But across the country, a few hundred people still bear the scars of 26/11, having lost loved ones in Mumbai’s worst ever terror attack. The pain hasn’t dimmed even after a decade but survivors have grown in courage and resilience.
In 26/11 Stories of Strength, The Indian Express dips into ten years of reportage on Mumbai’s terror survivors to find that single mothers have attended night school to get an education, children who lost a parent have dared to dream big, those who lost sons have learnt to find new purpose in living. Many have dug deep within to joust with anger, fear, the desire for retribution. And hearteningly, have emerged to tell stories of their triumph over senseless violence, through lives lived with honour and compassion.
Priya Sarukkai Chabria (Zubaan)
A revolutionary take on the classic dystopian science fiction novel, Clone inaugurates a new kind of writing in India. Priya Sarukkai Chabria weaves the tale of a fourteenth-generation clone in twenty-fourth-century India who struggles against imposed amnesia and sexual taboos in a species-depleted world. With resonant and allusive prose, Chabria takes us along as the clone hesitantly navigates through a world rendered unfamiliar by her expanding consciousness. This slow transformation is mirrored in the way both she and her world appear to the reader. The necessary questions Chabria raises revolve around a shared humanity, the necessity of plurality of expression, the wonder of love, and the splendor of difference.
Clones adventurous forays into vastly different times, spaces, and consciousness animal, human, and post-human build a poetic story about compassion and memory in the midst of all that is grotesque.
Tripti Sharan (Readomania)
What goes into making a doctor?
Beyond draconian examinations and endless studies, it entails long duty hours with little reprieve, the pressure on the psyche to be always right, the mettle to survive in an unforgiving environment full of patients, anxious caregivers, and a whole world full of hope and anxiety. All the while being painfully aware that they cannot always live up to expectations.
House of Doctors traces the arduous yet exciting journey of medical students, as they move on from practising on cadavers to dealing with real people and diseases, from unrealistic pressures and conflicting situations that test their grit to putting aside their own emotions and make tough decisions. And, above all, the tenacity to revel in their profession.
Candid and emotional, this book reveals a side of the profession that few can ever comprehend, as the medical students take upon unforeseen challenges and push new boundaries in their quest to be known as lifesavers!
Ritu Menon (HarperCollins)
Nayantara Sahgal, born into the first family of Indian politics, is one of India’s finest writers. Novelist, essayist, political commentator and memoirist, everything she wrote, whether political or literary, followed the evolution of democracy in post-Independence India. What connects Sahgal’s fiction and non-fiction is politics; what propels her politics is the idea of India. The three strands of personal, political and literary are inextricably woven in her writing, and just as it is impossible to separate a writer’s life from her text, Nayantara Sahgal cannot be read without reference to the political life of the country. Charged with stepping out of line in her political writing, Sahgal displayed a similar tendency in her personal life, risking both social disapproval and political displeasure. She carried on regardless.
This literary, personal and political biography of this important writer, with a beautifully crafted Afterword, is a first, based on interviews, private papers and letters, first-hand information and archival research.
Namita Gokhale, Krishna Nanditha, Bulbul Sharma, Seema Mohanty, Pervez Dewan, Royina Grewal (Penguin)
In the Hindu universe, gods and goddesses play freely among human beings to help them, nudge them towards the right action and mete out justice. They may appear to us as avatars in human form or manifest themselves as forces of nature. The many myths of Hinduism become colourful and entertaining when Shiva, Vishnu and Devi take different forms to enact their rivalries, destroy demons and teach devotees with superpowers a lesson in humility.
This first-of-its-kind book brings together the major deities of the Hindu pantheon, describing the different manifestations by which they are recognized, celebrated and worshipped-from Durga to Sita to Kali, and from Narasimha to Parashurama to Krishna. The contributions by Bulbul Sharma, Namita Gokhale, Nanditha Krishna, Parvez Dewan, Royina Grewal and Seema Mohanty offer enchanting stories about our favourite divinities.
Buy your copy here.
Sagarika Ghose (Penguin Viking)
The stamping out of difference, the quelling of diversity and the burial of argument is, in fact, most un-Indian. Anyone who seeks to end that dialogue process is ignoring Indianness and patriotism. The liberal Indian argues for the rights of the marginalized in the tradition of Gandhi for trust, mutual understanding and bridge-building. Real patriotism lies in old-fashioned ideas of accommodation, friendship and generosity; not in force, muscle flexing and dominance.
Why I Am a Liberal is Sagarika Ghose’s impassioned meditation on why India needs to be liberal.
Shutapa Paul (Penguin)
Exploring her life from early childhood to the present, Didi opens a window to the life and times of Mamata Banerjee, the current chief minister of West Bengal.
Teesta Setalvad (Tulika Books)
The assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948 was a declaration of war and a statement of intent. For the forces who conspired in the killing, the act was a declaration of war with the secular, democratic Indian state and all those who stood to affirm these principles, as well as an announcement of a lasting commitment to India as a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. It was also an act to signal the elimination of all that India’s national movement against imperialism stood for. Beyond Doubt is a dossier of historical and critical documents that aims to contextualize the politics, motivations and circumstances behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Attempts to legitimize the act of killing and to celebrate the killers have re-doubled since May 2014, following the coming to power of the new regime in New Delhi. The time is right, therefore, to set the record straight. The visceral hatred directed against Gandhi and the denigration of everything he stood for need to be recounted if we are to understand the political nature of that dastardly act.
This book attempts to weave together archival documents from Government of India records relating to developments after the assassination, with translation of works in Marathi, Gujarati, and Hindi deconstructing the ideology responsible for the political killing. While several of the documents have appeared before in issues of Communalism Combat, this compilation presents new material on the subject. The first English translation of Jagan Phadnis’s book, Mahatmyache Akher, forms part of the dossier, as do Y.D. Phadke’s analysis of attempts to legitimize Gandhi’s killing and Chunibhai Vaidya’s analysis of Pradeep Dalvi’s play on Godse. It also covers the recent controversy over the destruction of files relating to Gandhi’s assassination by Government of India. A second volume of this dossier will bring to readers the Report of the Justice Kapur Commission, constituted to investigate the Gandhi assassination, with a detailed introduction and notes.
Sharanya Manivannan (HarperCollins)
Myths, dreams, desires, the timeless reality of the body and soul – in the midst of nature’s bounty – that is the essence of The Queen of Jasmine Country. It is an astounding work of fiction. – Volga Tonight, under this arena of starlight, I take up my stylus and press it by the glow of a clay lantern into dry palmyra leaves. It is on this night that I dedicate myself – to my self, to who I truly am, to what is invincible and without bondage of time, that predates me, that will outlive me.
Ninth century. In Puduvai, a small town in what we now know as Tamil Nadu, young Kodhai is taught to read and to write by her adoptive father, a garland-weaving poet. As she discovers the power of words, she also realizes that the undying longing for a great love that she has been nursing within her – one that does not suppress her desire for freedom – is likely to remain unfulfilled. Then, she hears of a vow that she can undertake that might summon it to her. In deepest winter, the sixteen-year-old begins praying for a divinely sensual love – not knowing that her words will themselves become prayers, and echo through the centuries to come.
Rich with the echoes of classical poetry, in The Queen of Jasmine Country, Sharanya Manivannan imagines the life of the devotional poet Andal, whose sublime and erotic verses remain beloved and controversial to this day.
Dr Jaishree Sharad (Penguin eBury Press)
In Skin Rules, Dr Jaishree Sharad, one of India’s top cosmetic dermatologists, gives you a revolutionary six-week plan to healthy, blemish-free skin.
From the basics-identifying your skin type, acquainting yourself with the fine print on labels-to home remedies, choosing the right make-up and the latest advancements in skincare treatments, this book has the answers to all your skin woes.
You’d be amazed at what a short, six-week routine can do for your skin. So what are you waiting for?
And here are 2 books that are not by Indian women, but are significant books that need to be know. Inspirational, relevant, and worth our time.
Michelle Obama (Viking)
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America – the first African-American to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it – in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations – and whose story inspires us to do the same.
Image source: pixabay
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