New Releases from Asia – June 2020

Gone Away: An Indian Journal by Dom Moraes (with an introduction by Jerry Pinto)

Publisher: Speaking Tiger

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 229

Price: INR 294 (E-book)

Book Blurb

One of the most unconventional travelogues ever written, Gone Away covers three months of Dom Moraes’ life spent in the subcontinent at the time of the Chinese incursions on the Tibetan border in 1959.  In that short time, a remarkable number of memorable things happened to him, some of them the sort of fantastic situations that could only enmesh a poet, perhaps only a young poet—a visit to a speak-easy in Bombay;  an interview with Nehru and an hour spent closeted with the Dalai Lama in Delhi; and a meeting with the great Nepalese poet, Devkota, whom he found already laid out to die by the side of the holy river Basumati. After a short stay in Calcutta, where he tried, with limited success, to investigate the lives of prostitutes, he went up to Sikkim, the north-eastern border state into which no visiting writer had been allowed for almost a year.

Having made his way by jeep right up to the frontier, he ran into a Chinese detachment and was shot at, but escaped to safety. Full of humour, felicity of phrase and oddity of behaviour, Gone Away communicates the special excitement of the traveller on every page. Unforgettably funny is the account of the Sikkimese soccer match played in an impenetrable mist and involving the loss of several footballs kicked over an adjoining cliff.  Yet, though humour and irreverence prevail through the pages, this is a book which catches and holds the mood of modern India and illuminates as much as it entertains.

Author Bio : Dom Moraes, poet, novelist and columnist, is seen as a foundational figure in Indian English Literature. He published nearly thirty books in his lifetime. In 1958, at the age of twenty, he won the prestigious Hawthornden Prize for poetry. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for English in 1994. Moraes passed away in 2004.

Love is Not A Word: The Culture and Politics of Desire (Edited by Debotri Dhar)

  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger
  • Year of publication: 2020
  • Pages: 232
  • Price: INR 294 (E-book)

Book Blurb

A collection of twelve keen and insightful essays on love and desire, this book gives historical and cultural perspectives on Indian love (swayamvara, arranged marriages, and desi romance); the immortal love of Radha and Krishna that transcends theology; the story of a powerful, sexually desiring and desired courtesan/nagarvadhu. The politics of love is discussed and debated from a variety of angles:  from the love jihad campaign against inter-religious marriage, to a critique of the savarna gaze in Indian cultural iconography and its meaning for Dalit women’s bodies and inter-caste love, to India’s legal battle to decriminalize same-sex love, to the subversive threat in single women’s self-love. The book includes intriguing and exquisite portrayals of love in literature, from Urdu shayari and bhasha writing, to the city fictions of love through Rome, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, and back to Delhi, the ancient echoing through the modern. With essays from some of the best writers of our times, including Makarand Paranjpe, Alka Pande, Malashri Lal, Rakshanda Jalil, Mehr Farooqi and Zafar Anjum, this delightful volume certainly suggests that love is not just a word.

Author Bio : Debotri Dhar teaches Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. Her books, scholarly as well as fiction, include Postcards from Oxford: Stories of  Women and Travel (London), the novel The Courtesans of Karim Street (New Delhi), The Best Asian Short Stories 2018 (Singapore; selected and edited with introduction), Education and Gender (Bloomsbury: New York, London; edited with introduction), and others. Her shorter fiction has been published in literary magazines and anthologies worldwide. Debotri is the founder of the Hummingbird Global Writers’ Circle, a transnational travelling literary initiative to foster a love of books, cultural exchange, and global understanding.

The Speaking Stone by Pravatkumar Padhy

Publisher: Authorspress, 2020

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The Speaking Stone is a tree of beauty, where the poet muses about nature that is the open text of truth and mysteries. I believe that Divinity is the embodiment of truth and that truth is love and peace. This truth breathes in the grass, sand, sky, mountains, sea, clouds and others objects of this collection. Poet unmasks this truth to present the soul of these poems.

– Stephen Gill, Poet and Novelist, Canada

About the Author : Pravat Kumar Padhy hails from Odisha, India. He holds Masters of Science and Technology and a Ph.D from Indian Institute of Technology (ISM), Dhanbad. He has a certification of the Executive Education Programme on “Advanced Management” Iron IIM-Bangalore. His literary work cited in Interviews with Indian Writing in English, Spectrum History of Indian Literature in English, Alienation in Contemporary Indian English Poetry, Cultural and Philosophical Reflections in Indian Poetry in English, History of Contemporary Indian English Poetry etc. His poetry won the Editors’ Choice Award at Asian American Poetry, Poetbay, Writers Guild of India and others.

His Japanese short form of poetry (Haiku, Tanka, Haibun, Haiga, Senryu, Tanka Prose) appeared in various international journals and anthologies. His haiku won Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Honourable Mention, UNESCO International Year Award of Water Co-operation, The Klostar Ivanic International Haiku Award, IAFOR Vladimir Devide Haiku Award, Diogen Spring Haiku Award, 7th Setouchi Matsuyama International Photo Haiku Award, Second International Haiku Contest for the award “Radmila Bogojevic”, IRIS Commendation Award and others. His haiku is showcased in the exhibition “Haiku Wall”, Historic Liberty Theatre Gallery in Bend, Oregon, USA. His tanka, ‘I mingle’ is featured in the “Kudo Resource Guide”, University of California, Berkeley.

He is Member of World Poets Society, United Minds for Peace Society (UMFPS). His poem, “How Beautiful”, published in the leading Newspaper, Indian Express, has been included in the Undergraduate English Curriculum of Shivaji University, Maharashtra, India.

A Killer Among Us by Ushasi Sen Basu

Publisher: Readomania

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 288

Price: INR 299, Kindle – INR 299

Book Blurb

What can strip away the polite veneer of an apartment complex and lay bare a world of secrets and lies? The discovery of a stranger’s body on its premises. Ira Dutta is an ambitious journalist who dislikes the ‘middle-class stagnation’ of Panorama Apartments. Nandana Roy is a stay-at-home mom, in the throes of an early mid-life crisis. Mrs Ghoshal is an octogenarian whose life revolves around television soaps. Just three, among many, seemingly unconnected lives―until the murdered man is found in their building lift one night. The facade of neighbourliness comes undone as suspicion falls on each resident in turn. Who is the stranger? Why was he killed? And who among them is the culprit?

Author Bio: Ushasi Sen Basu holds a master’s degree in English Literature from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She has been a professional writer and editor for nearly a decade and a half, and is the erstwhile editor-in-chief of Ushasi’s debut novel Kathputli, a contemporary literary fiction novel, was published in 2017. She lives in Bangalore with her husband and daughter. A Killer Among Us is her second novel.

It Happens – Stories of Human Relationships by Bhaswar Mukherjee

Publisher: Readomania

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 288

Price: INR 295, Kindle – INR 250

Book Blurb

What is it that can be your strength, your weakness, your nemesis, or your identity?  – Relationships.
It Happens―Stories of Human Relationships is a collection about people and their interactions that define the world we live in, either themselves or in the manner they influence us. These stories will make you live the characters and experience their relationships. You can almost reach out and touch someone familiar, remember a similar guilt or a deep sigh, a know-it-all smirk or a wide smile.  
So, go ahead, immerse yourself, and let your emotions go on a roller-coaster ride. And prepare to get surprised.

Author’s Bio: What is it in the DNA of bankers that makes them gravitate towards writing at some point of time in their lives? There appear to be no easy answers to this conundrum. Perhaps it’s the sheer herd mentality.

Bhaswar denies this generalisation and calls himself a reluctant and an accidental writer.

His first short story ‘The God of a Lesser Child’ was submitted as a lark and was selected and published by Notion Press in 21 Tales to Tell in March 2014. His next ‘Unrequited’ was selected by author Neelam Chandra Saxena in a contest launched by Readomania and was one of the two winning entries. ‘EFIL’ found place in Readomania’s anthology Chronicles of Urban Nomads. ‘Acceptance’ was selected by author Sudha Murty and published by Penguin India in their anthology Something Happened on the Way to Heaven. Another story ‘Garib Rath’ was picked up by author Ravinder Singh for his anthology Tell me a Story and published by Penguin India. ‘Guest of Honour’ in the Long Short Story (Notion Press), ‘The Introduction’ (Story Mirror), followed and his contribution ‘Leap of Faith’ featured in Crossed and Knotted (Readomania), India’s first composite novel.

In 2016, his short story ‘It was not their war’ was selected by author Ashwin Sanghi as one of the winners and published in the anthology by the Times of India in the Write India Contest Season 1 (TOI-Season 1). Another story, ‘Karma’ was among the top ten for the submissions for author Tuhin Sinha. 

In 2019–20, his short stories for TOI-Season 3 were shortlisted for the top ten by authors Nayantara Sahgal, Amitav Ghosh and Upamanyu Chatterjee for their respective prompts.

Bhaswar has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from IIM Bangalore. After close to eighteen years in multinational banks (Bank of America and HSBC), he quit in 2005 to set up his own company Bridgepoint Solutions Pvt Ltd, which provides consultancy and learning solutions in the banking domain.

He is passionate about theatre, having acted and directed many. He and his wife live in Chennai, India, empty nesters; their only daughter works in the US. Bhaswar strives to live by the maxim ‘Carpe Diem’ or ‘Seize the Day’.

The Machine is learning by Tanuj Solanki

Publisher: Pan Macmillan India

Release Date: 2 April 2020

No. of pages: 191

Price: Kindle edition – Rs. 280.39/- Paperback – Rs. 407/-

Book Blurb

Saransh works at a life insurance company, as part of the Special Projects Group (SPG). Their current project is top-secret: the development of an Artificial Intelligence system that will leave 552 branch-level employees redundant overnight. Because of site-specific customizations, however, the system needs to collect information from the company’s various branches. Thus, begins a cycle in which Saransh travels across the country, interviewing the very people that his machine will replace soon. Meanwhile, his conscientious ex-journalist girlfriend Jyoti repeatedly questions Saransh’s complicity in the impending destruction of hundreds of lives.

The Machine is Learning is a novel about twenty-first-century workplaces, love and the impact of technology in all of our lives. It interrogates a world order that accommodates guilt but offers no truly ethical course correction.

About the Author: Tanuj Solanki’s first novel, Neon Noon, was shortlisted for the Tata Literature Live! First Book Award. In 2019, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar for his second book, Diwali in Muzaffarnagar. Solanki’s short fiction has been published in the Caravan, Hindu Business Line, DNA, Out of Print, and several other publications. He lives in Gurugram with his wife.

Once there was me by Bobby Sachdeva

Publisher: Pan Macmillan India

Release Date: 25 June 2020

Print Length: 325 pages

Price: Kindle – Rs. 252/- Paperback – Rs. 405/-

Book Blurb

Caught in the web of communal violence repeatedly, Bobby Sachdeva stares at his burning house set afire by the bloodthirsty mob of the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. As a fourteenyear- old, his world turns upside down, exactly at the age his father had escaped from Pakistan during the Partition of India. Recovering from the trauma, Bobby re-builds his business and journeys across the US and China, experiencing a life unhindered by religious animosity. Having experienced both sides of religion – of immersion and detachment – he starts questioning the role of religion in our lives. Based on his vision of an emergent India, Bobby finally submits a PIL in the Supreme Court for religious shrines to distribute their excess income for the downtrodden. What happens next as religious hardliners turn against him?

Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)longing in Contemporary India (Special Anniversary Edition) by Parmesh Shahani

Publisher: SAGE Publications India / SAGE Select

Year of publication: 2020 / May

Pages: 280

Price: INR 595

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Book Blurb

Through a multi-sited ethnography in an online–offline community, Parmesh Shahani examines how Internet technologies, media, audiences and broader socio-historical contexts shape gay identity in contemporary urban India. He realizes that the identity of a gay man in the community is negotiated on the stability of the idea of Indianness. For readers across the world focused on India, Gay Bombay will serve as a memorable journey through various transitions in urban India.

This special anniversary edition includes chapters from renowned academicians working in the gender and queer studies space, such as Ulka Anjaria of Brandeis University, Kareem Khubchandani of Tufts University and Dhiren Borisa of O P Jindal Global University.

Author Bio: Parmesh Shahani is Vice President at Godrej Industries Ltd and the founder of the award-winning Godrej India Culture Lab which sparks conversations and collaborations about the changing face of contemporary India. Parmesh is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in corporate India and has guided many of the country’s leading companies on their inclusion journeys. He is a member of the FICCI taskforce on diversity and inclusion, and a board member of Khoj International Artists’ Association.

Parmesh holds an MS in Comparative Media Studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has been a TED Senior Fellow, a Yale World Fellow and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. This is an updated edition of his first book Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India, which was originally published by SAGE Publications in 2008. His second book Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion at the Indian Workplace is slated for publication in 2020.

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