New Releases from Asia: February 2020


Suralakshmi Villa

Title: Suralakshmi Villa

Author: Aruna Chakravarti

Publisher: Macmillan

Year of publication: 2020

Pages : 313pages

Price : Rs 650

Links : Amazon

About: Suralakshmi Choudhury, a gynaecologist based in Delhi, falls in love at the age of thirty-one, marries and has a son. Suddenly, five years after his birth, she abandons everything including the house gifted to her by her father and her flourishing medical career, to travel to an obscure village in Bengal and open a free clinic for women and children. She leaves her son behind but takes along a poor Muslim girl, she has adopted. What makes her take this strange decision? Suralakshmi’s actions confound her relatives and it is from their accounts of the incidents, letters, memoirs, and flashbacks – from a more distant past – that the story comes together and the layers and nuances in the enigmatic character of Suralakshmi are brought to light.

In Suralakshmi Villa, Aruna Chakravarti blends the narrative of the novel with history, legend, music, religion, folklore, rituals and culinary practices of both Hindus and Muslims, and creates a fascinating tapestry which reveals the syncretic nature of Bengal and her people.

 

FrontCover-forebook

Title: Calling Elvis: Conversations with Some of Music’s Greatest: A Personal History

Author: Shantanu Datta

Publisher: Speaking Tiger

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 230

Price: INR 399

Links: Speaking Tiger 

About: Shantanu Datta’s career as a journalist placed him at the forefront of music reportage in India for much of the past three decades, and therefore gave him unprecedented access to the greatest performers from around the world who played in the South Asian subcontinent. This book compiles, for the first time, the detailed interviews he conducted with seminal artistes like Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Ian Anderson and Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and many others including Dr L. Subramaniam, John McLaughlin, Sting, Jean-Luc Ponty, Carlos Santana and Amyt Datta. His candid, informed conversations with these enduring legends provide a rare glimpse into the minds of those trailblazers who influenced entire generations with their music. Datta’s own life too emerges in vignettes throughout the book, as he deftly weaves together his professional life with the personal through shared threads of melody and song.

Written with an exceptional depth of knowledge, Calling Elvis is an absolute treat for musicians and music-lovers everywhere.

Flawed-final front

 

Title: FLAWED: The Rise and Fall of India’s Diamond Mogul Nirav Modi

Author: Pavan C. Lall

Publisher: Hachette India

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 240

Price: INR 399

Links : Amazon 

About: In early 2018, the implosion of Nirav Modi’s Firestar Diamonds International, on its way to becoming India’s first truly global luxury company, threw the country’s diamond industry and its banking system into utter disarray. Allegations against Modi, of defrauding banks to the tune of US$1.8 billion, brought a whole business community under scrutiny and escalated rapidly into an international scandal. Based on personal encounters, incisive interviews and meticulous research, this riveting narrative exposes the incredible twists and turns of the Nirav Modi story – of a third-generation diamantaire who moved from Belgium to India to apprentice with his uncle, Mehul Choksi, an established diamond merchant with extensive connections; of an astute businessman whose firm grip over an intercontinental supply chain saw his branded jewellery stores dotting not just every Indian metropolis but also marquee locations such as London, New York and Hong Kong; and of a reclusive, inscrutable man with a penchant for the high life that possibly led him to fly too close to the sun.

As the Nirav Modi saga – complete with his arrest on international soil, rejected bail pleas, extradition theatrics and the frenzied pursuit of diamond-trading minutiae by investigative agencies across three nations – continues to make headlines, Flawed recounts in close, compelling detail the rise of a global player and his equally dramatic fall. Arresting and revelatory, it raises indispensable questions about how one man’s drive to succeed at all costs can jeopardise an entire ecosystem.

 

9781912881482

Title: In the Company of Strangers

Author: Awais Khan

Publisher: The Book Guild (UK); Simon & Schuster (South Asia excluding Pakistan);                                                                 Liberty Publishing (Pakistan)

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 274

Price: £8.99 (UK); Rs.399 (India); Pakistan Price TBA

Links: Amazon (UK);(India)

About: Mona has almost everything: money, friends, social status… everything except for freedom. Languishing in her golden cage, she craves a sense of belonging… Desperate for emotional release, she turns to a friend who introduces her to a world of glitter, glamour, covert affairs and drugs. There she meets Ali, a physically and emotionally wounded man, years younger than her. Heady with love, she begins a delicate game of deceit that spirals out of control and threatens to shatter the deceptive facade of conservatism erected by Lahori society, and potentially destroy everything that Mona has ever held dear.

 

Step Up

Title: Step Up: Women’s Journey to Identity, Success and Power

Author: Sailaja Manacha

Publisher: SAGE India (SAGE Response)

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 256

Price: INR 595

Links: Sage   

About: Step Up is a transformative journey that provides women with the necessary tools to become powerful leaders. It is an ‘inner journey’ to reveal commonly held beliefs that women have of themselves and others, as well as patterns of behaviour and choices that form the lens through which they see the world. Being aware of this allows them to look at the world differently and make impactful changes in their professional lives. Borrowing from the well-known frameworks of Generative Leadership (GL) and Transactional Analysis (TA), the book provides an inside-out approach advocating potent practices that can create effective leadership.

 

Book Cover_Social Entrepreneurship in India

Title: Social Entrepreneurship in India: Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism

Author: Madhukar Shukla

Publisher: SAGE India (SAGE Response)

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 284

Price: INR 495

Links:  Sage 

About: While the phrase ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ sounds oxymoronic, it certainly is not an unfamiliar concept in the Indian market and society. India is a hub of social entrepreneurship and has a long history of doing business for social causes. The business giants like Amul, Aravind Eyecare, Lijjat, Sulabh Shauchalay, etc. have been solving social problems through entrepreneurial strategies since ages. Inspired by tech giants like Uber or Paytm, aspiring entrepreneurs are looking for problems that can be solved through new business ideas. The emergence of social entrepreneurship as an identifiable sector and as a discipline/field of study has become a social phenomenon. The book starts with tracing the historical roots and the milestone which have led to the recent emergence of social entrepreneurship as a recognised sector of practice and study. Rather than fitting ‘social entrepreneurs’ in a box, it identifies the qualities and patterns of successful social entrepreneurs, both as a person and how they function. Sifting through these diverse approaches to solve social problems, it proposes five broad but distinct types of Indian social entrepreneurs. It describes how social entrepreneurs, like any other entrepreneur, identify opportunities and gaps in the ‘market’, develop innovative solutions to address those problems, and use entrepreneurial strategies to build and scale their ventures. It also discuss the key problems of access to basic social goods (e.g., education, healthcare, credit, etc.) by the poor segment of Indian society, the challenges in servicing this segment and successful entrepreneurial models which social entrepreneurs use to impact their lives. As scaling the impact is an essential requirement for the social entrepreneurs to make a difference in the society and lives of people, the book also discusses three different ways in which social entrepreneurs scale, and the prerequisites and challenges in scaling.

 

Flavours of Nationalism_Front

Title: The Flavours of Nationalism

Author: Nandita Haksar

Publisher: Speaking Tiger

Year of publication: 2018

Pages: 284

Price: INR 350

Links if any: Speaking Tiger 

About: In this memoir by an unashamed Indian, Haksar writes about how food shaped her awareness of politics, patriarchy, nationalism and socialism, from her childhood during the Nehruvian era onwards. She takes us on a thoughtful journey through India, from her Kashmiri Pandit family settled in Old Delhi and Lucknow, to human-rights activism on behalf of Nagas in Manipur; from grappling with feminist ideals, to considering the impact of a globalized food industry in Goa.

On a wider scale, she explains how our tastes and attitudes to food are shaped by caste, race, gender and class, exposing latent prejudices and bigotry. Haksar explores questions posed by food anthropologists and ecologists, and revisits debates between Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi on inter-dining. She also addresses the present controversies over beef-eating, vegetarianism and ideas of Hindu vs. Muslim food, in a milieu where debate is silenced.

With wry accounts of sharing meals with Burmese and Iraqi refugees, and arguing about bourgeois vs. proletarian tea in the Naxalite movement, the book also contains memorable recipes from the many people she has eaten with. At heart is her question that if Indians cannot imagine sitting with each other and sharing food with a sense of equality and respect, how then can a national unity be built?

 

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