New Releases from Asia: June, 2019

: The Billionaire Raj

Author: James Crabtree

Publisher: Oneworld

Year of publication: 2018

Pages: 384

Price: S$22.40


About: India’s explosive rise has driven inequality to new extremes, with millions trapped in slums as billionaires spend lavishly and dodge taxes. Controversial prime minister Narendra Modi promised ‘to break the grip’ of the Bollygarchs, but many tycoons continue to thrive amidst the scandals, exerting huge influence over business and politics. But who are these titans of politics and industry shaping India through this period of breakneck change? And what kind of superpower are they creating? A vivid portrait of a deeply divided nation, The Billionaire Raj makes clear that India’s destiny – prosperous democratic giant or corrupt authoritarian regime – is something that should concern us all.

IMG_0370Title: Indigo Girl

Author: Suzanne Kamata

Publisher: GemmaMedia

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 258

Price: US$14.95/ Rs 1,326.00


 About: Fifteen-year-old Aiko Cassidy, a bicultural girl with cerebral palsy, grew up in Michigan with her single mother. For as long as she could remember, it was just the two of them. When a new stepfather and a baby half sister enter her life, she finds herself on the margins. Having recently come into contact with her biological father, she is invited to spend the summer with his indigo-growing family in a small Japanese farming village. Aiko thinks she just might fit in better in Japan. If nothing else, she figures the trip will inspire her manga story, Gadget Girl.

However, Aiko’s stay in Japan is not quite the easygoing vacation that she expected. Her grandmother is openly hostile toward her, and she soon learns of painful family secrets that have been buried for years. Even so, she takes pleasure in meeting new friends. She is drawn to Taiga, the figure skater who shows her the power of persistence against self-doubt. Sora is a fellow manga enthusiast who introduces Aiko to a wide circle of like-minded artists. And then there is Kotaro, a refugee from the recent devastating earthquake in northeastern Japan.

As she gets to know her biological father and the story of his break with her mother, Aiko begins to rethink the meaning of family and her own place in the world.


IMG_0477Title: Squeaky Wheels: Travels with My Daughter by Train, Plane, Metro, Tuk-tuk and Wheelchair

Author: Suzanne Kamata

Publisher: Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 202

Price: US$14.95/ Rs 1,326.00


About: Squeaky Wheels: Travels with my Daughter by Train, Plane, Metro, Tuk-tuk and Wheelchair is a mother-daughter travel memoir woven with comparative culture and accessibility awareness. Kamata’s adventures with her teen — who happens to be deaf, with cerebral palsy, and in a wheelchair — through subterranean Tennessee, to the islands of Japan, and to the top of the Eiffel Tower ultimately lead to a daughter’s increasing independence, a mother letting go of expectations, and advocacy for travel which prohibits discrimination.


IMG_0483Title: Sightlines

Authors: Marc Nair and Tsen-Waye Tay

Publisher: Math Paper Press

Year of publication: 2019

Price: SGD$20



About: Sightlines is an ekphrastic creative project by poet Marc Nair and photographer Tay Tsen-Waye. Thirty six poems were written by Marc in response to thirty six film images made by Waye. The poems orbit around the governing idea of solitude in the images, attempting to share space by both writing with and against the image.  The images form an arc which begins and ends in Singapore. Sightlines presents an aesthetic of travel rooted in desire, or as Robert Hass puts it, “desire… full of endless distances.”


IMG_0482 Title:           Soliloquy of a Small-Town Uncivil Servant

Author:       K. K. Srivastava

Publisher:    Rupa Publications India Pvt Ltd

Year of publication:   2019

Pages:    206

Price:     Rs 295/


About: Soliloquy of a Small–Town Uncivil Servant is an attempted memoir beginning with the narrator’s realisation that he has forgotten much of his past. Hence, an acute need to retrieve it. What unfolds is an arduous journey into his past — the circumstances of his birth, his growing up in a small city like Gorakhpur and his rendezvous with life outside of that inhibited milieu as he enters Civil services and moves across the country. He exquisitely melds facts and fantasies when he describes his experiences with the world of bureaucracy and bureaucrats. Readers come across interesting characters (probably from bureaucracy) like  Kakku Jain: the investigating manipulator ‘who knew the art of tiptoeing. Good bureaucrats know the art of tiptoeing. They inherit this art from more experienced and better bureaucrats.’ Or Madam Mahavipida Devi- a spinster who a la Margaret Atwood is ‘a bulk, a knot/swollen in space.’ She ridiculously asked the narrator who presented his second book of poetry to her, ‘Has your wife written it? Does she know English? Is she from Delhi?’ Or the father-in-law/ son-in-law duo: Khandu and Shukar-Nar whom the narrator chooses Conrad to describe, ‘They inspired uneasiness. That was it. Uneasiness.’ The book records many such instances. Whether these fall in the realm of realty or fantasy are like tough nuts to crack.  The book reflects on author’s wide knowledge and his tight grip on social happening.


IMG_0480Title: Beyond the Fields

Author: Aysha Baqir

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Year of publication: 2019


Price: S$19.99 


About: Born to a poor, landless farmer in the month of the monsoon rains, twins Zara and Tara grow up amongst the fields of wheat and cotton in a remote village in Punjab. During an afternoon spree of games, Tara is kidnapped from the fields and raped. All seems to be resolved after her parents accept an unexpected marriage proposal for their “dishonoured” daughter. But the nightmare resurfaces when a newspaper clipping emerges, calling the union into question.

Determined to rescue her twin, Zara embarks on a harrowing quest for justice, battling keepers of a culture that upholds propriety above all else and braving the unknown dangers of an urban centre.

Set in the early 1980s against the backdrop of martial law and social turmoil, Beyond the Fields is a riveting, timely look at profound inequality, traditions that disempower women in our world, and survival as a dance to the beat of a different future.


IMG_0484Title: Interpreter of Winds

Author: Fairoz Ahmad

Publisher: Ethos Books

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 104

Price: S$10.70 (after GST)


About: Often an unnoticed caress on our faces, winds are voiceless and formless. How do we interpret them? What mysteries can we find in the whispers of winds? From a Dutch occupied Java where a witch was murdered, a dog who desires to be a Muslim, to a day in which all sense of music is lost, the mundane is aflame with the uncanny. In these stories, Fairoz Ahmad invites you to take a closer look at ordinary objects, as they take on a life of their own and spin gossamer threads. This book is a celebration of our universes amidst struggles and eventual helplessness.


IMG_0478Title:                          Oxygen Manifesto

Author:                      Mr. Atulya Misra

Publisher:                  Rupa Publications

Year of publication: 2019

Pages:                           193

Price:                             Rs. 295/-           

Links :       

About: Oxygen Manifesto is a story of the triumph of ordinary people over the might of the establishment in their battle to save the environment. Thatha lives in a remote and inaccessible part of Manipur and Ravi is a young IAS Officer from the Tamil Nadu Cadre. Circumstances bring them together and they create the most effective environmental movement the world has ever seen.

They shun the politics of criticism and personal attacks and focus on establishing a new Polity based on the principles of environmental protection, habitat conservation, direct Civil action and democratic Decentralization. Oxygen manifesto is an engaging story about environmental degradation and the impact of the Anthropocene.

It exposes the myth around wealth creation and the paradigm of economic growth. It also plants a development narrative that is environment-centric—an idea which is considered fringe in today’s times, but is bound to emerge as a mainstream thought in the future. The story also has an undercurrent of minimalism and veganism, as opposed to consumerism and wasteful consumption. A novel concept of taxing goods and services based on their carbon and water footprint has also been introduced by the writer. This is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of human civilization.


IMG_0485Title: Ebullience and Other Poems

Author: Bhupender K Bhardwaj

Publisher: Kelsay Books, USA

Year of publication: Mar, 2019

Pages: 42

Price: USD 14

Links :

About: Ebullience and Other Poems is Bhupender Bhardwaj’s debut collection of poems. These thirty poems fit thematically in rough clusters but are not divided as such in sections. The collection is an important reading in our times as it grapples with multi-dimensional concerns like the significance of relations between  the natural world and human beings and the need for preservation of the environment against the onslaught of unregulated development with its attendant degradations. It also encompasses the aspects of solidarity between humans. Through the depiction of pristine locations, it celebrates birds and animals visualising them as comrades of human beings while instilling belief in the fact that simplicity found about us can help us overcome mental fractures, the sense of unsettlement and destabilisation arising from a fast-paced urban life, these being the cumulative effects of the processes of globalisation. Some poems also deal with the ramifications of colonialism by ultimately showing how evil human designs are base and how the architecture of nature is autonomously and humbly triumphant.


IMG_0486Title: Fireflies in the Backyard

Author: Pranjal Hazarika

Publisher: WORDIT CDE

Year of publication: 2018

Pages: 224

Price: Rs 249 (paperback) Rs 143.72 (ebook KINDLE)

Links:  Amazon…/…/ref=sr_1_2…


Google Play

ebook links:



About: Fireflies in the Backyard is a collection of short stories with vivid shades of emotions associated with relationships and twists and turns that are associated with it.

Minoti dreamt of a loving husband. But, battered and violated by her husband, Minoti would occasionally spend hours gazing at fireflies in the backyard. Jisnu’s father planned to sell off the poultry fowls due to rumours of an epidemic outbreak. Jisnu saves one fowl from selling but is he fully successful?

An old Phallus shaped stone structure gets unearthed by Aslam Mian in Bonjuli. This leads to a chain of events that transform the villagers. Jeenu came to spend few days in Rubul’s house during his summer vacations to enjoy the village life instead, he experiences something else in the dark of the night.


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