JINNAH VS GANDHI
Author: Roddy Matthews
Rather than compare Jinnah with Nehru as is typically done, historian Matthews (author of The Flaws in the Jewel: Challenging the Myths of British India, HarperCollins 2010) juxtaposes him with Gandhi — their Father of the Nation versus ours. Both were politicians as well as ideologues. M A Jinnah demanded Pakistan; M K Gandhi’s influence kept the independence campaign on both sides largely non-violent. Each kept an firm grip on his national party. Both succeeded, yet ultimately both failed. There are differences, too. Both were British-educated barristers, one a secular liberal (before he became a Muslim nationalist), the other a “God-fearing moralist and social reformer”. Matthews looks at how these two very different individuals helped shape their two very different nations in the same time and place.
RUSKIN BOND: THE MUSSOORIE YEARS
Author: Ganesh Saili
Everyone has read and liked Ruskin Bond’s gentle stories, often set in the Himalayan hill stations where he has spent most of his life — a life which, one always guessed, was filled with little incidents of excitement and a modest amount of drama. This book is the proof of that. Written by Ganesh Saili, a long-time friend of Bond and himself a frequent writer on Mussoorie and its environs, this is a collection of umpteen little anecdotes assembled as a tribute. From childhood escapades such as a diary gone astray (in which he had described his housemaster’s pretty wife) to flirtations and small-town gossip, there appears to be nothing here that you would regret learning about a beloved author. “This, my friends, is the story of a little boy who set out to become a writer,” says Saili. “And did.”
MINISTRY OF HURT SENTIMENTS
Author: Altaf Tyrewala
Tyrewala wrote the widely acclaimed and equally widely translated No God in Sight (Penguin, 2005) and edited Mumbai Noir (HarperCollins, 2012), a collection of writings on Mumbai’s dark underbelly. His latest is a “genre-bending work” with an “all-encompassing narrative” and “startling imagery” (which is mysterious marketing-speak) that “celebrates the dystopia that is modern-day Mumbai” — and that does sound promising.
ENDING CORRUPTION? HOW TO CLEAN UP INDIA
Editor: N Vittal
The former Central Vigilance Commissioner tackles the big scams of 2010, tracing the “roots of the rot” in the institutions involved to a lack of transparency and accountability, and to greed. He offers a wide-ranging prescription for change, from the use of technology to boost transparency and limit the scope for extra-legal “alternatives”, to cutting money power in state elections, to strengthening RTI, the judiciary and the Central Election Commission, and empowering civil society and the media. He says he is optimistic.
BREAKING THE BOW: SPECULATIVE FICTION BASED ON THE RAMAYANA
Editors: Anil Menon and Vandana Singh
The prince (Rama) went into competition and won himself the princess (Sita). That’s where the story ought to end — but in fact all of the Ramayana lies ahead. Likewise this collection of stories, edited by two of India’s leading science fiction writers (Menon is the author of The Beast with Nine Billion Feet, Zubaan 2009, and Singh of The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet, Penguin 2008), goes far beyond the traditional tale, into the following literary genres: magic realism, surrealism, robot and cyberpunk, fantasy and science fiction, and (puzzlingly) “hard-to-classify”. Authors represented here include Abha Dawesar, Rana Dasgupta, Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Tabish Khair, Kuzhali Manickavel, Mary Anne Mohanraj and Manjula Padmanabhan, and come from India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as Holland, Israel, the UK and USA.
COSTUMES & TEXTILES OF AWADH: FROM THE ERA OF NAWABS TO MODERN AWADH
Author: Sushama Swarup
You’ve heard of the literary and artistic culture of old Awadh — here are the clothes that went with it. This reference work is the result of five years of research into “the dressing styles of the Hindus with the Nawabi and the Western styles”, about which little has been written thus far. The author also looks forward from the 18th century, the time of nawabs and the Raj, to show how Awadh led the country in adapting to Western sartorial styles. Miniatures show the nobility in period costume; there are also photographs of real costumes, highlighting textiles, colours, motifs and ornamentation.
Author: Nilanjana Roy
A tooth-and-claw saga of the cats of old Nizamuddin in Delhi. These are not homebound tabbies but a wild, martial crew. Miao is “the clan elder, a wise, grave Siamese”. Katar is “loved by his followers and feared by his enemies”. Hulo is “the great warrior tom”. Beraal is the beautiful, deadly queen. Southpaw is the kitten whose curiosity gets him into trouble. There is also Kirri, the warrior mongoose. One day a little orange kitten with unusual powers lands in their midst... The author of this novel lives in Nizamuddin, has cats, and writes a column for the Business Standard.
CHINA FAST FORWARD: THE TECHNOLOGIES, GREEN INDUSTRIES AND INNOVATIONS DRIVING THE MAINLAND’S FUTURE
Author: Bill Dodson
China is industrial, China is rich, China is horribly polluted. But China is also a pioneer in the “sustainable” economy, “actually outstripping the West in all manner of green initiatives, renewable energy investments, research and development funding”. This involves cutting its dependence on fossil fuels and trying to reduce its output of hazardous waste, as well as investing heavily in R&D and the Internet. Dodson reports what is happening on the ground, in government and industry, to show change in progress and offer models for investors and managers to choose from. He does, however, mention three limiting factors: demography, energy dependency, and resource limitations.
THE MASCULINE OF ‘VIRGIN’
Author: Sarah Joseph
Translator: J Devika
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Twenty-one short stories written over 40 years by one of India’s leading feminist writers, with five novels, eight story collections and a number of national awards behind her. “The stories depict her opposition to all structures and institutions that formalise power,” says the publisher’s blurb, and reading them one has to agree. There are strong-willed women characters whose sexuality is not shied away from; the forces of patriarchy are ruthless; myths are reinterpreted... Joseph’s novel Othappu: The Scent of the Other Side (OUP, 2009) won the Vodafone Crossword Award for Indian Language Fiction Translation in 2010. J Devika is a noted translator.
PAO: THE ANTHOLOGY OF COMICS I
The stunning cover hints at the illustrated treasures within. This anthology has been some time in the making, and is the work of the well-known graphic essayists and novelists of the Pao Collective as well as some others. The contributors include Ambarish Satwik, Orijit Sen, Parismita Singh, Samit Basu, Sarnath Banerjee and Vishwajyoti Ghosh. In it, says the publisher’s blurb, “Aliens write science fiction, clouds drift through sleepscapes, a boy struggles to comprehend his mother’s death, the Helmetman drives through a metropolis under attack, a spinster aunt holds her family hostage till strawberry ice cream arrives on the scene,” and so on.