Tag Archives: Book Review

The Legend of Himal and Nagrai – Greatest Kashmiri Folk Tales Retold by Onaiza Drabu

Gracy Samjetsabam reviews The Legend of Himal and Nagrai reflecting how these stories offer a yarn of peace from Kashmir through the tales sorted from the memory lane of the Kashmiris (Speaking Tiger, 2019)

  • Title: The Legend of Himal and Nagrai
  • Author: Onaiza Drabu
  • Publisher and date of publication: Speaking Tiger Books (10 December 2019)

Onaiza Dabru makes her debut with the book The Legend of Himal and Nagrai. Dabru is an anthropologist from Kashmir. Her works focus on the issues of identity, nationalism and Islamophobia. She co-curates a newsletter on South Asian art and literature called Daak. The folktales in The Legend of Himal and Nagrai reflect Dabru’s pride for her identity and offer a yarn of peace from Kashmir through the tales sorted from the memory lane of the Kashmiris. On reading the stories, one can sense the amplitude in the rich age-old stories that are passed on from generation to generation and these stories allow the self an aesthetic indulgence of one’s culture. The stories come in the form of myths, legends, fables and anecdotes filled with the attributes of the complex yet peaceful co-existence of the cultural confluence nestled in the heavenly Jammu and Kashmir since ages. Dabru highlights the manner in which proverbs, idioms and rituals form a chain of a metaphor of the diversity that Kashmir is. The superstitions, the cruel twist of irony, the luck and misfortunes, the prince and the pauper, the beautiful evil women, the underworld and the world of the animals in the folklores speak in volume of the race, the Kashmiris and their love for the enchanted and boundless imagination. Moreover, the peris from the dastaans of Persian folklore and the nagas from the Panchatantra of Sanskrit stories harmoniously amalgamate and co-exist in the folktales from Kashmir. This influence of the confluence is evident in the nature of the multicultural, multilingual and multi-religious flavouring of the folktales.

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Musicophilia in Mumbai – Inspired, hosted, perpetuated and celebrated

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Musicophilia in Mumbai by Tejaswini Niranjana (Published by Tulika Books , 2020) calling it a fascinating journey across the city.

“The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain…Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves.”

Oliver Sacks

Who doesn’t comprehend  the power of music that  moves us and  affects our mood? And when it is Hindustani music and the city of Mumbai, things ought to go cerebral. For being a wonderful  mix  of social science research and creative non-fiction, this is a stupendous book. 

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The Flavours of Nationalism – An unbinding faith in the hope of a future

Rakhi Dalal reviews The Flavours of Nationalism,(Speaking Tiger, 2018) analyzing how through this personal memoir, Nandita Haksar hopes for a future where every Indian will have Justice of Eating.

Nandita Haksar is a pioneering human rights lawyer, campaigner, teacher and writer. She is the author of over 15 books including: Framing Geelani, Hanging Afzal: Patriotism in the Time of Terror (2009); The Judgement That Never Came: Army Rule in North East India (with Sebastian Hongray, 2011); ABC of Naga Culture and Civilization (2011); Across the Chicken Neck: Travels in North East India (2013); The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism from the Cold War to the Present Day (2015), Framed as a Terrorist (with Mohammad Aamir Khan) (2016) and the Exodus is Not Over: Migrations from Ruptured Homelands of Northeast India (forthcoming). The Flavours of Nationalism won the Book of the Year award at LF Epicurean Guild Awards 2020.

The introduction to the book is titled “The Justice of Eating”, which takes its name from the poem “The Great Table Cloth” by the Communist Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. Through this poem, Neruda expresses his wish for a world free of hunger. Nandita Haksar quotes the poet to bring forward the still pertinent question of inequality, when it comes to accessibility of food in Indian society. That the farmers continue to commit suicide, that some of those unprivileged go without square meals for days, that the social fabric is still marred by discrimination and oppression practiced towards people with respect to their food choices because of their caste/class/religious/regional identities, are some of the questions that the author grapples with in this book.  

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Sita’s Sisters: Texts of resistance and resilience

Dr. Sutanuka Ghosh Roy explores Sanjukta Dasgupta’s Sita’s Sisters calling it a poet’s exhortation of womanhood.

  • Page: 80
  • ISBN: 978-93-87883-89-5 ( Paperback)
  • Edition: (2019)
  • Published by  Hawakal Publishers, Kolkata-India.
  • Price: INR 300. $11.99

             Sita’s Sisters is the sixth book of poetry by Sanjukta Dasgupta, former professor, head and dean, faculty of Arts, Calcutta University. She is a poet, critic and translator. She is the recipient of numerous national and international grants and fellowships and has lectured, taught and read her poems in India, Europe, USA and Australia. She is a member of the General Council of Sahitya Akademi New Delhi and Convenor of the English Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi. Her published books include Snapshots (poetry), Dilemma (poetry), First Language (poetry), More Light (poetry), Her Stories (translations), Manimahesh (translation), Media, Gender and Popular Culture in India: Tracking Change and Continuity, SWADES—Tagore’s Patriotic Songs (translation), Abuse and Other Short Stories, Lakshmi Unbound (poetry) 2017.

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Shadow City: All about childhood, ancestral roots, heritage, culture and familial ties

Namrata explores Kabul through Taran N Khan’s Shadow City which according to her isn’t just about a city.

Stories in Kabul begin with the phrase ‘Yeki bood, yeki na bood.’ There was one, there was no one.

Taran N Khan (Shadow City)

Taran N Khan’s first book, Shadow City takes us around Kabul highlighting the varied experiences the city and its people have been through over years. It is neither a memoir, nor a travelogue. Lying somewhere in between, Khan has found the perfect voice to depict a place which has been through so much and yet continues to thrive in various ways.

Growing up in Aligarh, Khan grew up with a fascination for Afghanistan due to her Pashtun background. After completing her education in Delhi and London, she has now decided to call Mumbai her home for the time being. Her works have been widely published in India and internationally, including in Guernica, Al Jazeera, the Caravan and Himal Southasian. Her writing has also received support from the MacDowell Colony, the Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, among others.

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Scream to the Shadows: Retro Horror Tales from Asia

Tan Kaiyi reviews Tunku Halim’s latest work, Scream to Shadows calling it a collection of tales full of shocks and gore!

Scream to the Shadows is a retrospective collection of Tunku Halim’s career. These 20 spine chilling tales give a great introduction to one of the leading horror writers in Asia. Over a span of two decades, Tunku has written dark stories in the form of novels and short stories—most notably Dark Demon Rising and the Rape of Martha Teoh & Other Chilling Stories

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Shadow Men: Where nightmare and dreams go hand-in-hand

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.

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One Drop of Blood : Mourning and martyrdom

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.

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Bhaunri and Daura : Twin tales of mystique from Rajasthan

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.

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