Tag Archives: Indian writing in English

Book Excerpt: FRACTURED FOREST, QUARTZITE CITY BY THOMAS CROWLEY

An exclusive excerpt from Fractured Forest, Quartzite City by Thomas Crowley, jointly published by SAGE Publications and Yoda Press under the Yoda-SAGE Select imprint. (Published in September 2020)

Chapter 5

Spirits: Transcendence, Sacred and Secular

Stoner Sadhus 

Love of marijuana is yet another commonality linking the Sufis to the yogis. In many of the tantric texts, the virtues of the intoxicating plant are extolled. One text avers that marijuana is essential to ecstasy. The plant is referred to as “victory” and “Gorakhnath’s root”. And, as Sufis gather at Qutb Sahib’s shrine to smoke, sway and (occasionally) scream and shout, groups of Nath Siddhas convene close by, on the northern edges of Sanjay Van, where three Gorakhnath Mandirs have been erected. 

One of these temples, by far the biggest, adjoins the main road and regularly holds large gatherings, culminating in a biannual mela that draws significant crowds. The smallest of the temples, by contrast, is just a low brick wall surrounding several idols, protected by a solitary priest who sleeps beside the temple in a makeshift tent. The third temple combines the remoteness of the small mandir with the sociality of the big one. It is set back, away from the paved roads, in the midst of the jungle of Sanjay Van. It houses a small community of Nath yogis, who receive regular visits from devout Hindus residing in the nearby neighborhoods. 

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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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Displacement And Citizenship – A Hand-Book on Migration

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Displacement and Citizenship – Histories and Memories of Exclusion (Tulika Books, 2020) calling it a timely reminder of the price that has been paid not only in India but globally, by the privations caused by the negation of citizenship based on religion, gender, ethnicity/caste and/or race.

Statelessness is a massive problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Those without a nationality often face difficulty participating in society and accessing a full range of privileges, together with education, health care, travel, and employment. Some are even detained because they are outlawed.

According to a 2013 UN global migration statistics, 232 million international migrants – or roughly 3 percent of the world’s population – are living out of the country, worldwide. This makes transnational migration a key feature of globalization and a central issue on the international agenda. 

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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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Short Story: She/Her By Ifreen Raveen

Somewhere deep inside inland India, a group of women wearing bright orange, yellow and red coloured sarees gossiped under an early morning summer sun. Dense groves of lush green banana trees stretched for miles around them. Rows and rows of bananas dangled from these trees, like an upside-down crown. Overhead the sky looked like a clean, light-blue canvas with not a single cloud or bird in sight. 

These women had skin the colour of charcoal, sharp eyes and loud laughter. With their hair tucked behind their ears and the loose end of their sarees tied around their waist, they sit under the shade of these trees. In their daily lives full of drudgery and routine, this is perhaps the only hour they don’t resent. They share stories about their childhood, spent in their maiden homes, far this village of lush green banana trees, none of which belong to them. Now, they are just women who live in ruins, on the edges of the world, like those extra empty spaces, on the edges of manuscripts, unseen, unheard and unwanted.

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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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Awards & Nominations – Prajwal Parajuly

Recently, Nepali-Indian origin author Prajwal Parajuly has been in the news for all the right reasons. His works have been nominated for some of the most prestigious literary awards in the globe.

Prajwal Parajuly (né Sharma) (born 24 October 1984) is an Indian author whose works focus on Nepali-speaking people and their culture. Parajuly grew up in the Gangtok, Sikkim region of northeastern India. His father is Indian and his mother Nepalese. He was educated at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, and the University of Oxford. Before committing to a writing career, he worked as an advertising executive at The Village Voice. (Source)

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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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