Tag Archives: Indian literature

Bookmarked: The great Indian novel- An epic Blunder By Ramlal Agarwal

In this literary essay, Ramlal Agarwal talks about Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel and how text of the epic is twisted beyond recognition turning it into a disappointing experience for the reader.

Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel has come in for high praise in India and abroad, and is already in its fifth edition. Khushwant Singh called it one of the most significant books in recent times. Washington Port reviewed it on its front page and the Times London, called it a tour de force

Tharoor humbly explains why he calls his novel The Great Indian Novel. He further states, his primary source of inspiration is the Mahabharata. Since Maha means Great, and Bharat means India, he calls this novel The Great Indian Novel

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NEW RELEASES FROM ASIA- October 2020

The Curse: Stories by Salma ( Translated by N. Kalyan Raman)

  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger
  • Year of publication: 2020 / October
  • Pages: 192
  • Price: INR 350

Book Blurb:

In The Curse, acclaimed author and poet Salma blasts through the artifice of genre an language to reveal the messy, violent, vulnerable and sometimes beautiful realities of being a woman in deeply patriarchal societies. Loosely rooted in the rural Muslim communities of Tamil Nadu, these stories shine a light on the complex dramas governing the daily lives of most women moving through the world.

In the title story, a young spinster is caught between her desire for marriage and a dark family history that haunts her like a curse. In ‘Toilets’, a woman recounts in stunning, visceral detail how access to the most basic human space has been regulated by trauma, shame and the male gaze. In ‘The Orbit of Confusion’, a daughter writes a heartbreaking letter, struggling to come to terms with her anger and love for the woman who raised her. In these and five other emotionally charged stories that are at times humorous, even spooky, Salma crafts exquisite and contradictory inner worlds like Alice Munro with the playfulness and spirit of Ismat Chughtai—in a voice that is entirely her own. Available together for the first time in English—in a lively, nimble translation by Kalyan Raman—these stories will grab you by the throat and leave you fundamentally changed.

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Book Excerpt: Bride of the Forest- The Untold Story of Yayati’s Daughter by Madhavi S. Mahadevan

An exclusive excerpt from Bride of the Forest: The Untold Story of Yayati’s Daughter by Madhavi S. Mahadevan. Published by Speaking Tiger Books, 2020.  

Yayati 

The forest was already a lush, tangled dream. In the runny light of dawn what appeared surreal to the  girl’s eyes was the city of Pratisthan—the yellow of its  brick walls, the disarray of its streets. The citizens were still abed. The network of narrow, paved alleyways was  silent but for the sighs from the night just spent. However,  the smells lingered and gossiped of the frenzied drinking  and dancing, of clandestine desires and sated hungers,  of enticement, seduction and indulgence. In the street of  the courtesans, bruised garlands of marigold and jasmine  drifted in sluggish drains. A tambourine lay in a pool of  vomit. At the city’s intersections stood enormous clay  lamps that had burned bright all night, but now held  curls of blackened wicks, like stillborn worms. The only  signs of life were the lean, brown stray dogs scavenging  through animal innards and fishbones. 

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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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Essay: A Passage to India- Naivety and Reality by Ramlal Agarwal

In this literary essay, Ramlal Agarwal explores the classic novel A passage to India highlighting how readers were drawn to the novel because it was about India, a subject close to the heart of the British and the Indians.

In the 1940s and the 1950s there was one novel the students and scholars of English literature in India were taken up with and that was E.M.Forster’s A Passage to India. It was essentially prescribed in all courses in English literature, it was discussed in all highbrow magazines and there could be no seminar without it. It was one book no teacher or student of English literature could afford to neglect. But with the passage of time, like all classics, it receded from the center-stage to the back-stage.

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Book Excerpt: Mohini by Anuja Chandramouli


A glimpse from Anuja Chandramouli’s Mohini – The Enchantress (Published by Rupa Publications India, 2020)

Prelude: A Hint of Hope Borne on a Dream 

The storytellers tended to go into raptures describing her sublime, flawless beauty, waxing eloquent about the perfection of her form and features, not to mention the heaviness of her bosom, supported as it was by an impossibly narrow waist. Captivating eyes with so much depth that most wanted nothing better than to plunge into those twin orbs, exploring the secrets within for the rest of time; lustrous tresses that cascaded in waves of silk, nearly caressing the earth over which she glided with effortless grace; luscious lips that mischievously promised endless delights and so on and so forth. 

Though they were mostly males who could not or did not want to look beyond the sumptuous perfection of her physical attributes, none of it was an exaggeration. For she was bewitching and her beauty had a power of its own, which could simply not be discounted. And yet, when it came right down to it, her beauty was almost beside the point. 

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New Releases from Asia: July 2020

 

The Four Colors by Ankur

 

  • Publisher: Hawakal Publishers
  • Year of publication: 2020
  • Pages: 88
  • Price: INR 350 / USD 8.99

Book Blurb

The fifty-odd poems in this collection all reflect the different hues of life as well as different stages of growth of a person. The poems find themselves divided naturally into four sections: Green (birth), Yellow (disillusion), Purple (rebirth), and Red (self-realization). The irrepressible current of life, in its various manifestations, runs through them all. Read more

New Releases from Asia – June 2020

Gone Away: An Indian Journal by Dom Moraes (with an introduction by Jerry Pinto)

Publisher: Speaking Tiger

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 229

Price: INR 294 (E-book)

Book Blurb

One of the most unconventional travelogues ever written, Gone Away covers three months of Dom Moraes’ life spent in the subcontinent at the time of the Chinese incursions on the Tibetan border in 1959.  In that short time, a remarkable number of memorable things happened to him, some of them the sort of fantastic situations that could only enmesh a poet, perhaps only a young poet—a visit to a speak-easy in Bombay;  an interview with Nehru and an hour spent closeted with the Dalai Lama in Delhi; and a meeting with the great Nepalese poet, Devkota, whom he found already laid out to die by the side of the holy river Basumati. After a short stay in Calcutta, where he tried, with limited success, to investigate the lives of prostitutes, he went up to Sikkim, the north-eastern border state into which no visiting writer had been allowed for almost a year.

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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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Lothal: Where the story of civilisation started in the Indian Sub-continent

By Abhinav Kumar

 

4. Caption - Lothal city (left) and dockyard

Lothal city(Left) and dockyard

Everyone has a place they return to time and again or a thing they simply can’t resist while on vacation. Think beloved mountains or beaches, spas, street food, an 18-hole course or bungee jumping, et cetera. For me, it’s World Heritage Sites*: majestic reminders of a glorious, often mysterious past, scattered all over the globe, to be guided through, explored solo, photographed and cherished.

My search for such sites led me to Lothal — an enigmatic lost port-city, one of the central characters in the mysterious drama of the subcontinent’s origins. Part of a national obsession – the Indus Valley Civilisation: perpetually hiding in plain sight, its broken cities scattered across the north and west. Its script continues undeciphered, its story always tantalisingly beyond reach — confined, until that moment, within the yellowing pages of my schoolboy history books, with their prim descriptions of planned cities, streets meeting at right angles, baked bricks and standardised weights.

At a distance of just 80km from my hotel, Lothal was perfect. Lying forgotten in its ruinous state, Lothal was perfect.

***

Gujarat’s well-laid roads zipped past as we hurtled towards our destination. Bountiful rains this year, the driver Ratan informed me curtly, as we passed soaked paddy fields that glittered in the morning sun. Unprecedented. Looking out at the gentle, jovial cumulus clouds that glided past, I prayed that they withhold their yield until at least that evening. Read more

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