the-way-things-wereA new book by writer Aatish Taseer has Sanskrit as the central metaphor and touches several issues like Ayodhya, 1984 riots and the Emergency.

The Way Things Were is a family saga set in Delhi amid the commotion of the last 40 years of Indian history.

Skanda’s father Toby, the Maharaja of Kalasuryaketu who is a master of Sanskrit, has died, estranged from Toby’s mother and from the India he loved. Skanda is tasked with fulfilling Toby’s final wish and returning his ashes to his birthplace.

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Nakul Krishna in The Caravan

I bankrupted myself while writing Maximum City: Suketu Mehta Count on Urdu to have a word for it: shahr-i-ashob, lament for a city. Here is Mirza Muhammad Rafi Sauda, a poet from the eighteenth century:

How can I describe the desolation of Delhi? There is no house from which the jackal’s cry cannot be heard. … In the once-beautiful gardens where the nightingale sang his love songs to the rose, the grass grows waist-high around the fallen pillars and ruined arches. … Jahanabad, you never deserved this terrible fate, you who were once vibrant with life and hope, like the heart of a young lover.

We are answerable for having let our religious identities drive us to killing each other. Khushwant Singh has shown us some of our handiwork in Delhi, says Amitabh Bagchi in The Outlook

khushwantsinghjiKhushwant Singh’s monumental work, Delhi: A novel, is, in the sense of the passage above, a novel about ghosts: of those who lie buried in beautiful stone mausoleums, of those who were thrown into unmarked graves, of those who were burnt on the ghats of the Yamuna and of those who became carrion for the city’s vultures. It is a novel about all the blood that has been shed in the triangular region of the North Indian plain demarcated by the ridge in the West and the South and the river in the East. It is a lament for an endless sequence of murders of brother by brother and for betrayals of lovers and fathers. It is a celebration of the seasons and the trees and the flowers, and of the life led in this city by the river through the generations. It is an old man’s admonition to the young, a free spirit’s “up yours” to blinkered puritans, and a writer’s querulous and occasionally exuberant attempt to speak truth not just to the powers of the time when the book was written, but to power across time.

Essentialism feeds specious arguments in Capital. Perpetual City breathes a time of grace and preferment: The Outlook

capitalBooks on Delhi clearly suffer in comparison with those that embrace Mumbai, such as Maximum City or Shantaram. Only Dalrymple’s City of Djinns, written with an obvious fondness for the city’s monuments but an irreverent disdain for its inhabitants, and Sam Miller’s Megacity, with its idiosyncratic approach, come to mind. Neither, though, seeks to be representative of a city, not in the sense Rana Dasgupta’s Capital claims to be ‘A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi’.

Rana Dasgupta’s Delhi book tries to deconstruct Delhi’s neuroses. Manjula Lal wishes the focus was sharper: Tehelka

Rana_Dasgupta_smallA search for the soul of Delhi can only be a wild goose chase. For the very idea of our capital city having a soul would be scoffed at by those who see it only as a temporary workplace, never a “native place”. However, it does deserve to be deconstructed and understood, not just pilloried, for what it does today, Bharat will do tomorrow. Rana Dasgupta gives the city a biography it deserves, rising above journalistic eclecticism (though there’s that, too) to tease out its idiosyncracies, its pathos and its relentless materialism. He finds the reasons why so many migrant workers, refugees and government employees prolong their stay in the belief that going back to the Rest of India is like joining a losing team.

Amazon for Authors: Navigating the Road to Self-Publishing Success

Hear how Indian authors have used Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to build and reach audiences across a variety of genres

This event is free, but registration before 13 Feb 2014 is a must.

Guest Speakers:

  • Ajay Jain, KDP author and founder of Kunzum Travel café
  • Rasana Atreya, KDP author of Tell A Thousand Lies
  • Sri Vishwanath, KDP author of books like Give Up Your Excess Baggageand The Secret of Getting Things Done

Moving between the past and the present, this is a compelling survey of Delhi’s encounter with capitalism: Mint

capitalMarch is the prettiest month,” begins Rana Dasgupta’s sprawling, discursive account of Delhi’s energetic embrace of capitalist rhythms, “bringing flawless blooms to the dour frangipanis.” As first lines go, it is pretty enough, and, despite its inversions and adjustments, the nod to the first line of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, is unmissable.