THE SCHOOL OF CORE INCOMPETENCE
Author: R Chandrasekar
When “two numbers” rats are found living in the canteen of the privately owned Sundarambal Institute of Management, Coimbatore, the director hastily forms a committee to “address the lacuna”. In no time this minor crisis expands into a power tussle involving the faculty, bureaucrats, the prime minister’s own yoga guru and Dr Rakshasan, an MP with “a radar-roofed and gold-plated Maybach” (who also owns the institute). A satirical novel on management schools — big talk, big money, big egos, free laptops, dubious degrees, lazy professors — and government interference in education.
DAYS OF GOLD AND SEPIA
Author: Yasmeen Premji
Set between 1857 and the freedom struggle of the early 20th century, this debut novel tells the story of Lalljee Lakha’s rise from penniless orphan in Kachchh to “Cotton King” of Bombay. The cast includes “merchant princes and maharajas, courtesans and soothsayers, pirates, freedom fighters and soldiers of the British Raj” — but Lalljee stands out as a man of character, of integrity as well as frailty.
THE IMPERIAL IMAGE: PAINTINGS FROM THE MUGHAL COURT
Author: Milo Cleveland Beach
The Mughals lavished their interest and wealth on many beautiful things — including books, of which the emperors commissioned a great number. In the imperial workshops they employed master calligraphers, artists and illustrators to turn literary works into things of great physical beauty. In this expanded edition of his 1981 book, the art historian Milo Beach presents Mughal books now housed in the Freer Gallery of Art, and traces the contributions of different Muslim rulers of India to the art of the book. This grand volume includes artist biographies and an extensive bibliography.
SONS OF THUNDER: WRITING FROM THE FAST LANE A MOTORCYCLING ANTHOLOGY
Editor: Neil Bradford
Publisher: Mainstream/ Random House
Bikers don’t have a choice. They are enslaved by their passion. Riding a motorcycle (though presumably not on Indian city roads), they can be enfolded in an experience without losing the free particularity they cherish. From nice quotes — “seeing deeply into the nature of things by direct experience”, “the lustfulness of moving swiftly” — to classic bike reviews, this is a collection of prose and poetry inspired by two wheels. Not all the contributors are men...
THE TATTOOED FAKIR
Author: Biman Nath
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
North Bengal, the late 18th century. Roshanara, a fakir’s daughter, is kidnapped by a zamindar, then rescued by a British indigo planter. But the sahib takes her as his mistress. Her dismayed husband Asif joins a band of armed fakirs. He fails to get her back, but years later he finds her son Roshan — who, though of mixed race, develops into a ferocious, tattooed fakir fighter. A novel set in an unexplored corner of history.
SUBHAN & I: MY ADVENTURES WITH THE ANGLING LEGEND OF INDIA
Author: Saad Bin Jung
Two men from very different classes go angling for mahseer, “the greatest fresh water fighting fish in the world” (it can reach 9 ft in length), in the difficult waters of the Kaveri. The author was born into a princely family; Subhan is a commoner but a master angler. The book is full of angling lore, tips and anecdotes — and respect for this rare beast.
CHRONICLE OF A CORPSE BEARER
Author: Cyrus Mistry
Among the Parsis of Mumbai is a little-known community of corpse bearers, who carry the Parsi dead to the towers of silence. They are shunned by the rest of society, and are often very poor — yet, in this novel based on a true story, Phiroze Elchidana, son of a priest, falls in love with Sepideh, daughter of a corpse bearer. A tragic love story that opens a window onto a hidden minority.
NO ONE HAD A TONGUE TO SPEAK: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ONE OF HISTORY’S DEADLIEST FLOODS
Authors: Utpal Sandesara and Tom Wooten
On August 11, 1979, after a week of rain, a dam near the town of Morbi in Gujarat burst. The flood destroyed factories, farms and many villages, killing perhaps 25,000 people — and yet the disaster is hardly remembered today. In this book its story is told in vivid near-firsthand detail, with the help of archival research and over 130 interviews. (One author is the son of a survivor.) The book begins with a prediction in a folktale and continues through the event and aftermath to the present day. A portrait of India between feudal and industrial, paying for rapid, short-sighted growth.
RABBIT RAP: A FABLE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Author: Musharraf Ali Farooqi
In this modern fable “about politics, ecology, feminism and corporate greed”, Rabbit Hab wants to liberate his fellow rabbits from the old paradigm of living in warrens safe from their predators, and “violently taming nature”. As he presses on with his world-changing, he faces opposition, sabotage and double-dealing. With illustrations and lyrics by Michelle Farooqi.
FADING DREAMS, OLD TALES
Author: Pa Visalam
Publisher: Oxford University Press
In this novel based on her own life, Visalam’s prota-gonist is the youngest of a large family living in Nanjil Nadu on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. She has a comfortable childhood until the death of her father. After that the “real world” intrudes — but the test of poverty produces a strong, independent-minded woman who plays a significant role in the post-war Communist politics of south India. She is one of three chief characters: the others are her father and the man she marries. Told from different perspectives and in stream-of-consciousness flow, this major work is translated from the Tamil by Meera Rajagopalan.
This is the first of a monthly series