January 27, 2022

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

New Releases – December 2021

13 min read

A comprehensive list of New Releases from Asia – this list includes some soon-to-release and some already released titles.

Akbar: A Novel of History by Shazi Zaman

About the Book

Conventional historical accounts tend to paper over seemingly minor events related to Akbar’s life, to the detriment of a comprehensive appreciation of one of the most important figures of Indian history. Shazi Zaman fills the gap with this remarkable novel rooted in history..Akbar’s writ ran from the Hindukush in the west to the Bay of Bengal in the east, an empire his father Humayun and grandfather Babur had only dreamed of. And his religious policy, boldly unorthodox, was as fierce a contest with the clergy, particularly Islamic, as were his military campaigns with his political opponents. Most histories give us Akbar the commander who never lost on the battlefield, and the fearlessly iconoclastic ruler.

But we rarely come across the restless, questing soul who wished to reconcile a sensitive and compassionate heart to the sometimes ruthless obligations of statecraft; and the man who, in his struggle for sulh-i-kul, peace with all, could dare to treat as equal not only all faiths—Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and others—but all life as well—human or animal.. With a scholar’s rigour and a storyteller’s insight, Shazi Zaman, in this transcreation of his acclaimed Hindi novel, sifts through fact and many an anecdote to paint a complex yet enchanting portrait of one of the world’s great monarchs. There isn’t another book, as vast in scope and as layered, to help us fully understand the phenomenon that was Akbar: the unsparing pragmatist and benevolent ruler; the austere leader and indulgent friend; the unlettered prince and philosopher-mystic.

About the Author

Shazi Zaman started his three-decade-long career in broadcast journalism at Doordarshan and has since then worked with several media organizations. He has had a long association with the ABP News Network as a senior executive producer and as their Group Editor. He has been on the governing bodies of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi. Akbar is his third novel. His earlier Hindi novels are Prem Gali Ati Sankri and Jism Jism ke Log.


 Offspring: A Novel by Sandeep M. Bhatnagar

About the Book

Ambala, 1918: At a time when adults rarely stepped out of the city, Rohan Lal was the boy setting sail for Sydney, Australia. When Professor Hardayal approaches him with an acceptance offer from the Australian Academy of Sciences, Rohan is apprehensive at the thought of a vast ocean separating him from his family. Bearing the pain of separation, Baoji, Ma, and Bhai advise Rohan to take the leap and turn his life around. Soon, the five years at the Academy come to an end and the thought of returning home crosses Rohan’s mind. But the fear of being separated from the love of his life, Jenny—his mentor Professor Hubertson’s niece—and the promise of better work opportunities in Paris, keep him away from home some more. Life, work, and love take this once shaken, unsure youth on another adventure – this time around to Glendale, Ontario.
Further away from his home and family now, Rohan spends most of his waking moments hoping and praying to return home with Jenny. What once began as a five-year separation from his family in India, now felt like an unending exile. The intermittent trips and the handwritten letters he regularly exchanged with Bhai did lessen his guilt of abandoning his aging parents, yet his constant turmoil made him wonder if he had made a mistake by not moving back at the right time.
A victim of his own decisions and struggling to tie the two ends of his family, Rohan feels stuck in a paradoxical world of his own making. Each day praying that he had not, in fact, committed the sin of breaking up his family. A poignant debut novel, Offspring is a testament to family ties, love and tradition.

About the Author

Sandeep M. Bhatnagar is the son of Late Meem Meem Rajinder, a celebrated Urdu fiction writer. He joined the IRS (Customs & Central Excise) in 1984 and is associated with numerous key reforms in the realm of indirect taxes—Customs, Central Excise & GST. Sandeep superannuated in August 2021 from the post of Member, Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs, Government of India. He is an awardee of the Presidential Award for specially meritorious service and lives in Delhi.


Our Many Longings : Contemporary Short Fiction from Bangladesh

About the Book

‘Our Many Longings: Contemporary Short Fiction from Bangladesh’ offers a window into the excellence of contemporary short fiction from Bangladesh as we mark the golden jubilee of independence. Collected here are stories originally written in English as well as translations from Bengali, by writers based in Bangladesh and those belonging to the diaspora. From the tea gardens of Sylhet and the cyclone-stricken port city of Chittagong to a restaurant kitchen in Dubai and the gritty streets of New York, the stories range across the country and spill beyond its borders to other countries and continents, wherever Bangladeshis have found themselves. They register the trauma of the liberation war and the ongoing search for agency and self-definition. Common themes emerge: haunting preoccupations with nation, identity, desire, loss, limits, borders, and an abiding sense of nostalgia. These are stories about the perennial human condition of yearning and striving—stories of our many longings.

“An anthology of diverse and often courageous writing where conventions are challenged and social taboos scrutinized. Threading through the stories, there is a consistent depiction of our individual yearnings and desires which are in perpetual conflict with established values. It is this struggle that creates tension in many of the stories. The tales deal with the lives of ordinary Bangladeshis and yet there is a universality about their struggles which will resonate with most readers, regardless of their cultural background. The stories traverse a gamut of emotions and leave us pondering the contradiction that our flaws may be our greatest source of strength.”

Adib Khan, author of Seasonal Adjustments and Solitude of Illusions

“What are the fears and longings that make up a nation and its world-scattered diaspora? Between literature, love, liberation, the dreams and terrors of migration and the nightmare of sexual exploitation, this collection offers a magnetic range of answers. Such unforgettable stories, so many memorable phrases, such uncanny rhythms of the real and surreal. The fascinating images of Bangladesh that come alive in this book remind us there is no better lens than literature for the beauty, mess and wretchedness of humanity.”   

Saikat Majumdar, author of The Scent of God and The Firebird

An Unkept Promise: What Derailed the Indian Economy by Prasanna Mohanty

About the Book

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Indian economy that was already reeling under the shocks of demonetization and GST. The economy wasn’t robust to withstand a fresh shock. Has the ‘Tyrst with Destiny at Midnight’ soured?

An Unkept Promise: What Derailed the Indian Economy looks at some of the pre-pandemic economic decisions and the string of reforms implemented during the pandemic crisis such as new farm laws, new labour codes, decisions to privatize profitable public sector units and de-nationalize banks, and the proposed move to allow corporations to run banks. With hard evidence and data, the book tries to diagnose what has gone wrong and why? It also examines the role of key democratic institutions of checks and balances in policymaking such as Parliament, Niti Aayog, Supreme Court, media and citizenry. As cronyism grows and stock market booms, millions have lost their jobs and incomes, the book warns against neo-liberal economic thinking and suggests corrective measures to get the economy back on track.

About the Author

Prasanna Mohanty is a journalist and researcher with three decades of professional experience. Most recently, he was working as Editor, Policy, with India Today Group until June 2021. He writes on public policy, politics and governance. His area of work includes economics, social, socio-economic development, law and justice and environmental governance. His articles have been carried in the group’s various platforms, India Today, Business Today, DailyO and Aaajtak.

Prior to this he worked with Delhi-based think tank Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (2014-2018) as Principal Consultant where his work involved macroeconomics, corporate governance and sustainability.

Earlier he was Deputy Editor with Governance Now (2009-2013), a specialized fortnightly magazine on public policies and governance, in which wrote on public policies covering a wide range of area, including national security, tribal rights, rural development and environmental governance. He has worked with several national dailies and digital platform before that: The Statesman (1991-2000), Deccan Herald (2000-2001), TheNewsPaperToday of India Today Group (2002-03), Delhi Mid-Day (2003-05), IBN7 (2005-09) and News9 (2009). He was awarded for excellence in human development reporting in 1999.

He is a contributing author of “Handbook for Independent Directors” (LexisNexis, 2015, 2016), research contributor to “CSR in India: Steering Business Towards Social Change” (LexisNexis, 2017) and co-authored a chapter in OUP’s “Corporate Governance in India: Change and Continuity” (2016).

His articles have been published in several international publications like India Climate Dialogue, Village Square and Asia Times. His opinion pieces have been published in national media platforms like The Hindu Businessline, First Post, Financial Express, Mint, The Wire and others.

Prasanna did his B.Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry and has master’s degree in Journalism. 

He is an avid photographer and wildlife enthusiast. Lately, he has taken into birding and bird photography. He likes to travel, meet people and learn their lifestyle. 


Smashing the Patriarchy- A Guide for the 21st-century Indian Woman by Sindhu Rajasekaran

About the Book

Centred around the bold voices of millennials and Gen Zs, Smashing the Patriarchy explores how young Indian women from diverse backgrounds ingeniously overcome the patriarchy in their everyday lives.

From beauty, body politics, and sexuality, to caste, power, and the paradox of choice, the book explores a wide range of women’s issues and draws important connections between these. In the chapter ‘On Beauty’ the author examines why women pursue or reject mainstream beauty standards and the real-life repercussions of their choices. ‘Ishq in the Times of Tinder’ considers the conundrum that is love and what women want (and don’t want) from partnerships. The chapter ‘Women at Work’ focuses on how young hyper-informed (and tech-savvy) women have shifted work culture across industries. ‘Demystifying the Feminine’ examines how women across the socio-cultural spectrum define and express femininity. ‘Society, Sanskar, and Choice’ dives into society’s conception of honour and the backlash dissenting women face when they go against the norm.

Taking its inspiration from multi-disciplinary theories, grounded and deepened by interviews with a variety of experts and numerous women, Smashing the Patriarchy is an astonishingly insightful exploration of the collective psyche of modern Indian women.

About the Author

Sindhu Rajasekaran is the author of a novel, Kaleidoscopic Reflections, which was nominated for the Crossword Book Award, and a collection of short stories, So I Let It Be. Her essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared in international publications and anthologies. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh.


A Saint, a Folk-tale and Other Stories: Lesser Known Monuments of India

About the Book

‘Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.’

Ibn Battuta

Indian architecture offers one of the most glorious forms of built heritage anywhere in the world. India, with its geographical expanse, rich history and diversity, offers a veritable feast for the senses in every way, especially its spectacular range of built heritage. Starting from the earliest cave shelter paintings, rock-cut architecture, and the first urban cities of the Indus Valley Civilization to modern skyscrapers, India has it all.

In A Saint, A Folk Tale and Other Stories, acclaimed author Rana Safvi takes the reader into a secret, hidden parts of India beyond the usual tourist destinations. The often-overlooked monuments of India are rich with history, architecture, and scenery begging to be explored. The book takes you back in time and on a journey to explore the vast architectural heritage of India.

Discover the secrets that Khusrau Bagh hides in its heart, marvel at a Queen’s forgotten resting place, listen to the folk tales and fables embedded in the structures and walk down the poetic path to some of the places where the great poets sleep, with the hope that the book sets the reader off on a journey of their own.

About the Author

Rana Safvi is a passionate believer in India’s unique civilizational legacy and pluralistic culture which she documents through her writings, podcasts and videos. She has published seven books so far on culture, history and the monuments of India. These are Tales from the Quran and Hadith, The Delhi Trilogy: Where Stones Speak, The Forgotten Cities of Delhi and Shahjahanabad: The Living City of Old Delhi. She has translated both the editions of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s seminal work on Delhi, Asar-us-Sanadid, Dastan-e-Ghadar and four accounts of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Delhi from Urdu to English.


The Greatest Tamil Stories Ever Told by Sujatha Vijayaraghavan & Mini Krishnan

About the Book

The Greatest Tamil Stories Ever Told showcases some of the best short fiction to emerge out of Tamil Nadu, dating from the last century to the present day. Two of the earliest stories included here are Subramania Bharati’s ‘The Story of a Crow Learning Prosody’, a satirical tale about the exaltation of language, and ‘Kalki’ Krishnamurthy’s ‘The Governor’s Visit’, about how bigwigs in little places pandered to the British rulers during the time of the Raj. While some stories in this volume wrestle with the idea of public justice, as in Father Mark Stephen’s ‘Penance’ and Sa. Kandasamy’s ‘The Slaying of Hiranya’, others, such as Ambai’s ‘Journey 4’, hide secrets that could destroy lives and relationships if they are ever revealed.

Featuring memorable works by, among others, Bama, Perumal Murugan, and Poomani, the thirty stories in this collection, selected and edited by Sujatha Vijayaraghavan and Mini Krishnan, come together to paint a striking picture of the Tamil people.

About the Author

Sujatha Vijayaraghavan is a writer and translator. As a bilingual writer, musician, and dance scholar, she combines three disciplines: literature, Carnatic music, and Bharatanatyam. Her literary works in Tamil and English include collections of short stories, poems, a travelogue, articles on environmental issues and the arts, and a novel in Tamil. Some of her books have been acquired by the American Library of Congress and she holds master’s degrees in English literature from Delhi and Madras Universities.

Mini Krishnan is a translator. She has edited translations for Macmillan India and Oxford University Press, India. She is currently working with multiple publishers as coordinating editor (translations) for the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Education Services Corporation.


My Country Is Literature: Adventures in the Reading Life by Chandrahas Choudhury  (Author), Golak Khandual (Illustrator)

About the Book

A book is only one text, but it is many books. It is a different book for each of its readers. My Anna Karenina is not your Anna Karenina; your A House for Mr Biswas is not the one on my shelf. When we think of a favourite book, we recall not only the shape of the story, the characters who touched our hearts, the rhythm and texture of the sentences. We recall our own circumstances when we read it: where we bought it (and for how much), what kind of joy or solace it provided, how scenes from the story began to intermingle with scenes from our life, how it roused us to anger or indignation or allowed us to make our peace with some great private discord. This is the second life of the book: its life in our life.’

In his early twenties, the novelist Chandrahas Choudhury found himself in the position of most young people who want to write: impractical, hard-up, ill at ease in the world. Like most people who love to read, his most radiant hours were inside the pages of a book. Seeking to combine his love of writing with his love of reading, he became an adept of a trade that is mainly transacted lying down—that is, he became a book reviewer.

Pleasure, independence, aesthetic rapture, even a modest livelihood: all these were the rewards of being a worker bee of literature, ingesting the output of the publishers of the world in great quantities and trying to explain in the pages of newspapers and magazines exactly what makes a book leave a mark on the soul. Even as Choudhury’s own novels began to be published, he continued to write about other writers’ books: his contemporaries at home and abroad, the great Indian writers of the past, the relationship of the reading life —in particular, the novel—to selfhood and democracy, all the ways in which literature sings the truths of the human heart.

My Country Is Literature brings together the best of his literary criticism: a long train of perceptive essays on writers as diverse as VS Naipaul and Orhan Pamuk, Gandhi and Nehru, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, and Jhumpa Lahiri. The book also contains an introductory essay describing Choudhury’s book-saturated years as a young writer in Mumbai, the joys and sorrows and stratagems of the book reviewer’s trade, and the ways in which literature is made as much by readers as by writers.

Delightfully punctuated with 15 portraits of writers by the artist Golak Khandual, My Country Is Literature is essential reading for everyone who believes that books are the most beautiful things in life.

About the Author

Chandrahas Choudhury is the author of the novels Arzee the Dwarf (2009), Clouds (2018) and Days of My China Dragon (2019), all set in Mumbai. He is also the editor of the anthology India: A Traveller’s Literary Companion (2010). A graduate of Hindu College, Delhi University, and Trinity College, Cambridge, he is also a Fellow of the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa, and now a writing mentor at the IWP’s Summer Institute program.

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