In his insightful essay Writing Political Biography, Rae Wear claims that there is a little bit of autobiography’ lurking beneath the surface of every biography where its foremost reflection is through the choice of subject. While some biographers may be drawn to subjects they admire, others are led by the curiosity to understand those whom they consider important despite having little regard for them.
The role of the middle class in transforming India is being discussed and debated from the late 19th century. In the first two decades of Independence historians gave a lot of attention to the role of the middle class in the national movement, but from the 1970s the focus shifted to the peasants and subalterns.
The volume under review is a reprint of a special issue of the journal Modern Intellectual History which came out in April 2007. As Kapila notes in the introduction, intellectual history as a genre has not quite developed in the field of Modern Indian History inspite of the pioneering work of Eric Stokes and Ranajit Guha, more than half a century ago.
This is how Suad Amiry ends the preface to her book, Menopausal Palestine: Women on the Edge. So Amiry puts all the ingredients together, adds dollops of humour and irreverence, and succeeds in publishing an entertaining and insightful book on the lives of women in conflict-ridden Palestine.
Maloy Krishna Dhar’s Train to India may be read as an antithetical account of another perilous journey described by Khushwant
Singh in his Train to Pakistan—both books offering harrowing insights into the colossal human tragedy that engulfed two countries in the wake of the partition of India.
Books by young men who have studied abroad always seem to begin in aeroplanes. The moment you read the first lines—a description
of the view from a window as a flight to Lahore comes in to land—it is evident that The Wish Maker is unlikely to defy the conventions that have sprung up around what is now a flourishing subgenre: the novel of explanation, in which a young Indian or Pakistani sets out
to somehow explain to a newly-interested world the nuances of his country’s past and present, with its coming of age neatly coinciding with his own.
When I met Agha Shahid Ali’s father Agha Ashraf Ali a few months back, he told me about the latest collection of ‘Bhaiya’ (as the poet was lovingly called by his family) that had already come out in the US and was now being brought out by Penguin in India. He was excited about the launch of this collection.