Evocative and alluring , Namrata reviews Laksmi Pamuntjak’s Fall Baby (Published by Penguin SEA, 2019)

Somewhere in mid-flight, it occurs to me that I’m still at home and without a home; its just that now there are two homes instead of one and that must count for something.

With lines akin to poetry, Pamuntjak’s latest novel Fall Baby is a compelling read. Interestingly, one of the main protagonists of this novel, Siri, is the illegitimate daughter of Amba and Bhisma, the protagonists of Laksmi Pamuntjak’s award winning first novel, Amba/ The Question of Red.

Laksmi Pamuntjak is a bilingual Indonesian novelist, poet, journalist, essayist and food critic. Her debut novel Amba/The Question of Red won many awards and has been translated into several languages followed by her second novel, The Birdwoman’s Palate which was adapted into a movie.  She writes across genres dabbling in a poetry collection, a food guide, collection of short stories on painting and a treatise on violence and the Iliad.  Pamuntjak also writes opinion and features articles for various Indonesian publications.

Dr. Nabanita Sengupta reviews Gopal Lahiri’s latest poetry anthology, Return to Solitude and shares how she thinks the poet provokes his readers to think.

Title – Return to Solitude (Poetry anthology)

Poet – Gopal Lahiri

Publisher and Date of Publication – Hawakal Publishers, 2018

Reviewed by – Nabanita Sengupta

Gopal Lahiri is an internationally acclaimed and widely published poet based in Kolkata. A Geo-physicist by profession and a poet by choice, the earth, its flora and fauna seep into his work as comfortably as do complex emotions. Return To Solitude, his collection of haikus, senryus and other short poems vouchsafe the bond that the poet shares with nature.

‘crevice and gap

questions buried, eyebrows raised

glide into history’

The above can be an example of three succinct lines that merge the persona of the perceptive poet and the earth scientist.

Dr. Meenakshi Malhotra talks about Witnessing Partition by Tarun K.Saint, which according to her, is a valuable addition to the corpus of Partition literature

In his book ‘’Witnessing Partition: Memory, History, Fiction’’(2020), Tarun K. Saint attempts the ambitious literary enterprise of a sweeping account of the major literary writing generated by the partition of 1947, when two separate countries, India and Pakistan were created. A moment which should have been a joyous celebration of freedom from colonial rule, turned into a tragic moment of violent and acrimonious division.

Gracy Samjetsabam reviews Bijaya Sawian’s latest novel, Shadow Men (Speaking Tiger Books,10 December 2019) introducing us to the ‘Angry Young Men’ of Shillong

Bijoya Sawian is a writer and translator who resides in Shillong and Dehradun. She did her schooling from Seng Khasi High School and Loreto Convent in Shillong, graduated in English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College and has a Masters in English Literature from Miranda House, University of Delhi. Her contributions include writings on the life and culture of the Khasi community of North East India. The Sahitya Akademi and the Institute of Folklore Studies, Bhopal, are some of the institutes of repute that have published her short stories and critical essays. Some of her prominent translated works include The Teachings of Elders, Khasi Myths, Legends and Folktales and About One God. Her original works in English include A Family Secret and Other Stories. Shadow men, A Novel and Two Stories is her latest novel. It has three stories in which two take place in Shillong and one is set in Aizawl.

Bhaskar Parichha discusses Flawed, a book that unravels the mystery surrounding Nirav Modi, the financial scandal and the man behind it all.

When the story of a fugitive diamantaire fills the pages of a book, it is bound to evince more than average interest. ‘Flawed: The Rise and Fall of India’s Diamond Mogul Nirav Modi‘ does exactly that. The book written by journalist-author Pavan C Lall sheds light on one of the biggest financial scandals in India, and profiles the man allegedly behind it.

Namrata reviews One Drop of Blood by Ismat Chugtai based on the battle of Karbala.

Published by Women Unlimited (An Associate of Kali for Women), 2020

Featured in Hindustan Times as one of the interesting books early this year, One Drop of Blood by Ismat Chugtai is a unique book in many ways. Firstly, it is the last work of Ismat Chugtai and secondly, it so different from her usual line of work.

One drop of Blood is based on the battle of Karbala fought in 680 A.D. in present-day Iraq between Yazid, the reigning Caliph and his mighty soldiers and Imam Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad with his small army. According to the Islamic calendar Muharram is the first month of the year and the second holiest month, after the month of Ramzan. Muharram is also a period of mourning the martyrdom of Imam Husain and his family (including his infant grandchild) in the battle of Karbala.

Vibrant and Dusty- A Book Review of Bhaunri: A Novel and Daura: Excerpts from the Confidential Report on the Collector of a district in Rajasthan by Pallavi Narayan

The covers of Bhaunri and Daura, with the silhouette of a tribal girl on the former and a tree with roots and flowering branches on the latter, are inviting. The earthy colours of claret and mustard on both bring to mind the rolling deserts of Rajasthan, which is where the narratives are based. Indeed, the descriptions of rural living are minute and bring the reader right into the homes of the characters in Bhaunri, and into the tehsildar’s bungalow in Daura. While the novels are not intertwined, they speak to each other, taking the reader through the timeless vistas of Rajasthan and then plunging into a roiling mass of emotions.

     Flashes of iridescent colour, the swish of lehengas, the sweat of day-to-day living, the thirst that the desert induces in the subconscious take due precedence in the rendering of the characters. The portrayal of the landscapes is bound into quiet, controlled prose. Mystical experiences are brought alive by a lone flute amongst the dunes swaying with camels in its sway; a smattering of kohl that transforms beckoning eyes into that of a jadugarni, a female magician. Seemingly everyday occurrences are granted significance in the wee hours between day and night. The fineness of the prose is undercut by the intensity that the female protagonists bring to the novels.

A lot has been happening around the world. With the global pandemic locking us down in our houses, we are fighting new battles everyday. We struggle with day to day activities and wonder if all this is a nightmare which will end once we wake up only to find ourselves staring at the ceilings at night, sleepless and hopeless.

“This virus will leave us entirely newborn people. We will all be different, none of us will ever be the same again. We will have deeper roots, be made of denser soil, and our eyes will have seen things.”

C. JoyBell C

Rakhi Dalal talks about Shanta Gokhale’s autobiography, taking us through her life at large, highlighting the many milestones she created in this journey.

Publisher: Speaking Tiger ( 2019)

An eminent translator, writer, editor and columnist, Shanta Gokhale’s name needs no introduction. In 2016 she received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her overall contribution to the performing arts. She has also received lifetime achievement awards from Thespo, Ooty Literary Festival and Tata Literature Live. One Foot on the Ground – A Life Told Through the Body is her autobiography, published in 2019 by Speaking Tiger Publications. It has recently won the Crossword Book Award for English Non-Fiction (Jury).

Namrata looks at Krishna Udayasankar’s new novel set in Mumbai in the backdrop of the dark underbelly of the city amidst the world of Saimhas (werelions)

Publisher: Penguin

Released in : March 2019

An urban fantasy set in the mega city of Mumbai, Beast by Krishna Udayasankar reminds you of the folklore of Lord Narsimha and Prahalad. The description of one being ‘Neither a man, nor an animal’, is the common thread between the two.