She title sets the tone of the contents and one is prepared for an earthy, chatty, light meander through the bylanes of memory and small townish reminiscences. And this is what one gets. The stories are short and interspersed with great humour—both in the situations and characters depicted and in the manner of the telling.
Bani Basu’s Gandharvi (Original Bengali Gandharbi) narrates the story of Apala, her life and her musical journey. The crests and falls of her life mirror the high and low notes that she is able to sing with equal elan; however, unfortunately, the notes of her life do not have an equally happy ending.
white Crane Lend me Your Wings is a heartbreaking story set in the idyl-lic Nyarong Valley of Tibet
in the pre- and post-Chinese occupation years—where people live enchanted lives, with simple needs, simple beliefs and a deep faith that their Gods will never fail them.
Written by Vikramajit Ram whose first book Elephant Kingdom: Sculptures from Indian Architecture was followed by two travelogues, The Sun And Two Seas marks his debut in fiction writing. A graduate in art from the National Institute of Design, Ram combines his knowledge of art and architecture with excellent narrative skill to tell—‘not the sad story of the death of kings’, though several deaths do occur in the novel—something that is more than an exceedingly readable tale.
The story of Ruttie and Jinnah could easily be translated into a screenplay. It has all the elements to make a compelling film—the tall and stately Muhammad Ali Jinnah so enigmatic in his quiet resolve to be the most powerful man falls for the beautiful and determined Ruttenbai Petit in her diaphanous saris and scandalous blouses to whom the fight for freedom is as thrilling as her dangerous romance with Jinnah.
The theme of Matira Manisha (Born Of The Soil) by Kalindi Charan Panigrahi, was inspired by Gandhian thought and principles. Published in 1931, it is regarded as a modern Odia classic and one among a few seminal novels written in the first half of twentieth century Odisha. When one talks of Matira Manisha one is reminded of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, also published in 1931.
There is an old world charm about Kuppili Padma’s short stories collected in English translation as Salabhanjika And Other Stories. But, this oldness does not go back to the 50s or 60s. It takes time for the fact to register that there are no cell phones in her stories. A bit shocking when we discover also that there is no Facebook or Twitter or Messenger.
In its skeletal form Swarga is the story of an environmental crime that occurred in Kerala; an account based on the author Mangad’s observations. It is a true story of the horrors inflicted on the environment by the official use of endosulfan—a banned insecticide and acaricide—that was sprayed to destroy the ‘tea-mosquito’ a nonexistent pest that supposedly destroyed plants. The real reason was that endosulphan was beneficial to the growth of Kerala’s lush cashew plantations, all of them owned by the higher echelons of society.
Awell-intentioned anthology of literary pieces from different genres and across several Indian languages by Dalit writers, excerpted and made available in English translation, this latest offering from the Oxford University Press adds a new creation: a text-book to the growing corpus of Dalit Writings.
Rajesh Kumar’s translation of Ranendra’s Global Gaon Ke Devta (itself just 100 pages) is in unpretentious Indian English. Spiced up with local dialect, it’s an easily-acquired taste. You soon find out that what this thin book contains is an endeavour to melt down a mountain of memories and extract the here-and-now from an ancient civilizational predicament.
There is a growing interest among western scholars in various aspects of South Asian languages, in general, and in Urdu in particular. However, the book under review is least about Hindi (Nagari), and very much less about what came to be known after Partition in 1947, as Pakistan. This is rather an exploration of ‘the history of Urdu literature as a sociological phenomenon’.