On bookshelf, India blooms in all its colours (IANS Books This Week)March 10th, 2012 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) This weekend, the book shelf is a portrait of India in all its mysterious - yet realistic - shades. Flip through the must-read titles with IANS.
1. “Beautiful Country: Stories from Another India”; Written by Gunjan Veda and Syeda Saiyidain Hameed; Published by Harper Collins-India; Priced at Rs.399
“Beautiful Country…” is a journey towards understanding India. From the rarefied world of the Jalpaiguri tea estates to the crowded bylanes of Varanasi, from the pristine forests of the Andamans to the seething valley of Manipur, from the scattered habitations of Ladakh to the flooded villages of Barmer - these are the roads less travelled.
A woman and a girl set out to see India, lugging along the baggage of their pasts. On the way, they meet: Maimunisa, the ancillary weaver from Banaras who has only been able to feed her three-year-old son ’sabudane ka paani’ (tapioca water); young doctors from AIIMS who have left behind hefty pay packages to provide healthcare to tribals in Chhattisgarh. The duo chance upon the story of Bon Bibi and Shah Jangolee in the swamps of the Sundarbans, as also the natural, historical and cultural wonders that dot the Indian landscape.
This book is a large-canvas story of the hopes and despair, misery and triumph, failures and innovations of “real India” - an India that remains invisible to most Indians and does not make it to the front pages of newspapers.
2. “Return to Bhanupur”; Written by Giles H.R. Thornton; Published by Penguin-India; Priced at Rs.250
“It is the first duty of kingship to be as the people wish to see me.’ This fictional account of events in the court of the princely state of Bhanupur, 100 years ago, is a tale of intrigue, politics and image building. What was going through the mind of Maharaja Amar Singh II in the key moments of his reign? How much did he rely on the advice of his clever prime minister Chatterjee, the wily Bengali? How did he solve sensitive issues like undertaking a voyage across the seas to attend the coronation ceremony of the British king, without polluting his caste? And what were his relations with the British? especially with Dr Constable and architect Colonel Talbot, employed by his court? As the narrative moves towards its tragic conclusion, the characters’ innermost convictions are laid bare.
3. “The Nowhere Man”; Written by Kamala Markandaya; Published by Penguin Books-India; Priced at Rs.399
Srinivas, an elderly Brahmin, has been living in a south London suburb for 30 years. After the death of his son, and later of his wife, this lonely man is befriended by an Englishwoman in her sixties, whom he takes into his home. The two form a deep and abiding relationship. But the haven they have created for themselves proves to be a fragile one. Racist violence enters their world, and Srinivas’ life changes irrevocably. In this troubling and compassionate story, originally published in 1972, she foreshadows many of the issues of the diaspora and race that we face in today’s world.
4. “A Life in Words: Memoirs”; Written by Ismat Chugtai, M. Asaduddin; Published by Penguin Books -India; Priced at Rs.499
“A Life in Words”, the first complete translation of Chugtai’s celebrated memoir “Kaghazi Hai Pairahan”, provides an authentic and delightful account of several crucial years of the writer’s life.
Presented along with the vivid and high-energy descriptions of her childhood years are the conflicting experiences of growing up in a large Muslim family during the early decades of the 20th century. We get an intimate view of a writer’s fierce struggle to find her own voice and depict with passion and precision the visible and subtle tyrannies of contemporary society. The book is a compellingly readable memoir of the life of one of the most significant Urdu writers of all time.
5. “Symbols of India”; Written by Hem Shankar Ray; Published by Rupa & Co; Priced at Rs.746
What do a sari, Mahatma Gandhi, the IITs, an autorickshaw and paan have in common? The answer is simple - India. All of them can trace their roots back to India, even if some have now migrated to other cultures as well.
“Symbols of India” explores the origin, development and relevance of these and many others. Some of them, like the Bhagavad Gita, have been around for centuries; others, like Bollywood, are relatively new. Some, like the curry, have become internationally renowned while others, like the “maharaja”, seem to be on their way out. More than eighty symbols taken from every age, place and section of Indian society have been discussed in this book.
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Tags: aiims, amar singh, andamans, banaras, barmer, beautiful country, book shelf, fictional account, gunjan, image building, indian landscape, kingship, ladakh, portrait of india, princely state, pristine forests, rs 250, sundarbans, tea estates, young doctors