“Why, I wondered, while watching the leaves change colour in the fall, were there very few serious yet engaging books on love, its many moods and multiple meanings?”

From book’s Preface by Debotri Dhar

Featuring essays from prominent writers like Makarand Paranjpe, Alka Pande, Malashri Lal, Rakshanda Jalil, Mehr Farooqi and Zafar Anjum, this collection of essays on love is a much-needed read at this time when the definition of love, is being challenged.

Published by Speaking Tiger, 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 essays explore various themes like inter-religious love, love-jihad, same-sex love, a Dalit’s journey to finding love in times of dating apps etc.

Monisha Raman explores Karukku, a seminal work on Dalit life by Bama, which remains the most important work penned by a Dalit woman about living in a small town in Tamil Nadu as a member of a suppressed group, even after 25 years of publication.

When Karukku was first published in 1992, it came in for much criticism from many Tamil literary stalwarts. At a literary festival, an established writer called it reportage. The colloquial language used in the narration was not welcome by many in the writing community. However, the work established itself as among the most prominent voices in Dalit feminism. The English translation by Lakshmi Holmstrom, published by Oxford India Paperback in 2000, is having a successful run with its second edition.  This work holds the credit of being the first autobiography of a Dalit woman writer from Tamil Nadu.

A preview of Osman Haneef’s debut novel, Blasphemy – The Trial of Danesh Masih, where a Christian boy in Pakistan is accused of blasphemy―a crime punishable by death. (Published by Readomania, April 2020)

The Visitor

‘So, why is Islam the best religion?’ Sir Amjad, the substitute teacher, asked. The seven- and eight-year olds relaxed. They knew the answer because Mrs. Bukhari had taught them the answer. Mureed, a young boy who was keen to impress, raised his hand and was promptly called on.

Mureed stood up and gave the rote-learned answer that had been drilled into each of them. ‘It is because the Prophet was illiterate and uneducated yet the recitations of the Koran are more poetic and more beautiful than even Shakespeare! How could the Prophet, an uneducated man, come up with such beautiful poetry all by himself?’ the eight-year-old asked, clenching his sweaty palms. Once Mureed had finished his explanation, Sir Amjad, with a calm unchanging expression, motioned for the boy to sit down.

She stares idly into the distance, an empty ceramic tumbler in front of her.

“The beach there is different…in my country.” She says lost in the reverie of the waves. 

Did she say bitch to me? No, No, it’s the beach, the beach of Mexico. I remind myself of the Mexican Spanish accent. People’s vowels and consonants, my own diction is my Achilles heel even after years of mac and cheese.  Why would she call her life-coach a bitch? Calming my heart, I try to concentrate. Usually, I am the focussed type, I can come to the point easily. A seasoned counselor,  I can anticipate in the first five minutes the story which has got the weary heart to my doorsteps.

Listening is my profession, my bread and peanut butter and what they call in Japan- the Ikigai. Okay, close to Ikigai.  Occasionally I get jolted, dismayed by a story, as and when a 15-year-old girl talked about being drugged at a party at a friend’s house and later found herself in the morning without clothes on her body.  She was suffering from herpes apart from the guilt that she was responsible for being sexually assaulted. I was worried for my teenage daughter.

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.

An excerpt from ‘Preface to the Special Anniversary Edition’ in Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)longing in Contemporary India, Special Anniversary Edition by Parmesh Shahani, published by SAGE Publications India.

PREFACE (pp. xviii-xxi)

Another change personally over the years has been my own persona. From being someone who was rather shy 15 years ago, to being a flamboyant over the top fashionista who is regularly featured in our country’s fashion magazine “best dressed” lists, it’s been quite a ride! In fact, my fashionista journey began in 2008 with one of the first Gay Bombay book release events at the office of the fashion magazine Verve that I had just taken over as Editorial Director of. I wore a rather risqué rani pink silk kurta for that party with most of the top buttons open. I had also painfully waxed my chest – never again. (The risk-reward ratio just isn’t worth it!) From there to being a regular at fashion weeks and parties over the years, even though I’m not directly involved with the glamour business any more – what can I say except that I’m loving every moment of it. Whether in fashion or in business, or as a blue tick holding micro influencer in the digital world, I am in a different place today than I was in 2008, and I consciously use my vantage point to push for queer visibility and inclusion, wherever and whenever I can.

Poetry is the language of the universe.

In a world where chaos reigns in so many forms, poetry is a solace for many. At times, compared to magic, poetry heals and comforts in strange ways. Poets conjure magic with their words and captivate the readers with their ability to capture the finer nuances of life in their poems. One of the many poets whose work continues to inspire a lot of readers is Abhay K.

Abhay K. (b.1980) is the author of a memoir and eight poetry collections including The Seduction of Delhi,The Eight-Eyed Lord of Kathmandu, The Prophecy of Brasilia and The Alphabets of Latin America. He is the editor of CAPITALS, New Brazilian Poems, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Great Indian Poems and The Bloomsbury Book of Great Indian Love Poems. His poems have been published in over 60 literary journals across the world including Poetry Salzburg Review.