Tag Archives: Niyogi Books

Book Excerpt: A Plate of White Marble by Bani Basu (Translated from Bengali by Nandini Guha)

A glimpse from A Plate of White Marble originally written by Bani Basu in Bengali as Swet Patharer Thala and translated by Nandia Guha (Published by Niyogi Books, 2020)

There was no consolation. Yet Bandana repeatedly read the  letter from one end to the other. She remembered everything— from holding Kaka’s hand and going to attend Gandhiji’s  lectures in Deshbandhu Park to putting coins in the trunks of  elephants and looking at giraffes at the zoo. She could easily  picture those cold Sunday mornings when they used to reach  Esplanade, peeling oranges all the way. Kaka smoked very  strong cigarettes. The fingers of his right hand were yellow with  nicotine stains. When Bandana was small, she was under the  impression that all Kakas would have coppery yellow fingertips. 

A Kaka surely meant someone in whom this feature was an  integral part, inseparable from his image. 

When her mother died young, Kaka immediately decided  not to marry and start a family. Baba had tried to persuade him  to change his decision. Kaka had the same argument every  time, ‘Dada, this child is so naughty, you will never be able to  manage her on your own. If this girl is to be brought up well, I  will have to join you in taking charge of her.’ 

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Book Excerpt: Brink by S.L. Bhyrappa (Translated by R. Ranganath Prasad)

A glimpse from Brink originally written by S.L. Bhyrappa in Kannada as Anchu and translated by R. Ranganath Prasad. (Published by Niyogi Books, 2020)

She sought no more details. In a mood to relieve himself by spilling out everything if queried, her stillness cut him off from relating any further. By such time, her hands had retreated away from his. He gathered that she was perturbed by his declarations. Beyond the shade of the mango tree beneath which they were sitting, the static touch of the sun seemed to mutually repel all and sundry. He sat silently. With a facial expression that increased the intensity of the stillness around, she looked up to the skies. After a short while, she was on her feet. ‘I am leaving. If you come along, I will drop you.’ He felt dejected. ‘You may leave yourself.’ She now turned towards him. Her eyes were feral. He chose not to face her sight. Reflecting that she merited neither eyeing nor being eyed, he turned to the ravine that was being ravaged by Helios. After half a minute, she said, ‘And that’s all?’ He turned to her. With both her hands, she removed the royal-jasmine string from her plait and flung it with all her might onto the scorching rock. Then she looked at him. He continued to be mute.

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New Releases from asia- September 2020

The Brass Notebook: A Memoir by Devaki Jain

  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger
  • Year of publication: 2020 / September
  • Pages: 232
  • Price: INR 599

Book Blurb

In this no-holds-barred memoir, Devaki Jain begins with her childhood in south India, a life of comfort and ease with a father who served as dewan in the Princely States of Mysore and Gwalior. But there were restrictions too, that come with growing up in an orthodox Tamil Brahmin family, as well as the rarely spoken about dangers of predatory male relatives. Ruskin College, Oxford, gave her her first taste of freedom in 1955, at the age of 22. Oxford brought her a degree in philosophy and economics—as well as hardship, as she washed dishes in a cafe to pay her fees. It was here, too, that she had her early encounters with the sensual life. With rare candour, she writes of her romantic liaisons in Oxford and Harvard, and falling in love with her ‘unsuitable boy’—her husband,  Lakshmi Jain, whom she married against her beloved father’s wishes.

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New Releases from Asia – August 2020

Turmeric Nation: A Passage through India’s Tastes by Shylashri Shankar 

  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books
  • Year of publication: 2020 / August
  • Pages: 336
  • Price: INR 499
  • Releasing Soon

Book Blurb

What exactly is ‘Indian’ food? Can it be classified by region, or religion, or ritual? What are the culinary commonalities across the Indian subcontinent? Do we Indians have a sense of collective self when it comes to cuisine? Or is the pluralism in our food habits and choices the only identity we have ever needed? 

Turmeric Nation is an ambitious and insightful project which answers these questions, and then quite a few more. Through a series of fascinating essays— delving into geography, history, myth, sociology, film, literature and personal experience—Shylashri Shankar traces the myriad patterns that have formed Indian food cultures, taste preferences and cooking traditions. From Dalit ‘haldiya dal’ to the last meal of the Buddha; from aphrodisiacs listed in the Kama Sutra to sacred foods offered to gods and prophets; from the use of food as a means of state control in contemporary India to the role of lemonade in stoking rebellion in 19th-century Bengal; from the connection between death and feasting and between fasting and pleasure, this book offers a layered and revealing portrait of India, as a society and a nation, through its enduring relationship with food. 

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Book Excerpt: Mandu- The Romance of Roopmati and Baz Bahadur by Malathi Ramachandran

A glimpse of Malathi Ramachandran’s epic historical romance, Mandu- The Romance of Roopmati and Baz Bahadur (Published by Niyogi Books, 2020)

The evening gathering of music lovers – the mehfil – would begin after the day cooled and the sun sank, leaving the world poised and quivering with anticipation,  a cacophony of  bird calls filling the ears like clamouring silver bells,  The evening skies would scurry away to dress themselves up in honour of another bewitching night in Mandu. They would return when the lamps had been lit all over the city and the sounds of music and ghungroos rang in the air; and they would  glimmer gold in the waters of the lakes and fountains and flicker silver in the shadows of the forests. So enticing was the night life of the city, that they say even the creatures of the day, the peacock and the pigeon and the partridge, would hide behind pillars and in the crevices of rafters to catch a glimpse of the celebrations, night after night, in hall after hall.

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Book Review: The Sacred Sorrow of Sparrows – A Collection of Lives

The Sacred Sorrow of Sparrows_05.12(1)The Sacred Sorrow of Sparrows is a strange title, you’d think. And yet the alliteration in the title beckons you, the cover enchants and the colours calm.

In his prelude to The Sacred Sorrow of Sparrows, Siddharth Dasgupta sets out his intent — “These aren’t particularly sad stories. At least they weren’t meant to be….”

The 10 stories in the collection speak of love, loss and fear. In the story, In Symphonies We Flow, Dasgupta speaks of several kinds of sorrows — poetic sorrow, nostalgic sorrow, ravaged sorrow, tempestuous sorrow, inevitable sorrow, drunken sorrow and, the most compelling of all — divine sorrow. But there is also, in the stories, freedom from sorrow, which is a form of healing. This is what makes the book a compelling read.

The stories are set in Afghanistan, India, Japan and Turkey, and the writer delights with descriptions of the cultures and the peoples. He seems to know the cities intimately and captures their pulse accurately. For instance, Tokyo, in the story, One Deep Sleep, is called “a mad undercurrent of deference and defiance”; In Symphonies We Flow, set in Istanbul, Dasgupta writes about “the recognition and realisation of the overpowering melancholy that grips the city”; while India is described as “the high definition, surround sound ambient — abstract country”. Read more

Source: DNA India

Excerpts: The Sacred Sorrow of Sparrows by Siddharth Dasgupta

The Sacred Sorrow of Sparrows_05.12(1)IN SYMPHONIES WE FLOW

Life, in all its red-blooded bliss of ache, skin, soul, and sky is brief; wouldn’t you know…

And tonight, the night refuses to be anything but brutally young. Photographs keep washing on to the shore, and dreams keep playing truant with the light within your eyes.

As pupils blossom and in seeps the ocean’s silent sonata, you see an ancient wooden home by the waves, keeping time to the rebellious tides. You sense three stilled notes of pure, amazing grace. You uncover atonement in knowing that someone, somewhere is thinking of you at a café by the sea; wanting to be held in your arms, wanting your shoulder to rest her head on, wanting your lyrics to make up her song. That’s all there is. And you try and figure out the dots and the lines that lead to something resembling a picture; an image filtered through the rapidness of time, tide, man, and myth.

Were you destined to play the rebel to karma’s near-perfect script? Was it decreed that for this act, you be the joker of the pack; a Capricorn dissident wreaking disorder with the beautifully aged tarot cards? You cast such aspersions aside as you drink some wine and you smoke some moonlight and you try and keep innocence alive. It’s nothing. It’s everything. The ocean saves its best for last.

Beyond me, like an ancient sacred snake, winds the mighty Bosphorus. It is early morning now, and a soft layer of mist rises above the water. No life here in Istanbul is left untouched by the maiden’s majestic sweep. These are two different halves of the world, being unified by a cadence that sometimes flows in shades of pure blue, as it is doing now, or in billowing clouds of ink black, or, as when dusk is at its doorstep, in striking palettes of golden red, or, most thrillingly, as when the night is thick and filled with the moon’s romantic essence, in streaks of giddy silver.

I step on to Galata Bridge, taking the lower passage, and walk, keeping step with the shores as they flank different customs, different communities, different relationships, and even, as it feels at times, different eras. Beneath the onslaught, there are boats coming in with the day’s first catch and small ferries waiting to transport an anxious working-class horde to any of the city’s distant villages and tourist hotspots.

As the fishermen dock their precariously tiny vessels, one of them offers me a smoke. I accept gladly, and inhale the dark essence of dawn, nicotine, and rancidness. My senses are alive to every heartbeat. My ears are privy to every secret. Small makeshift cafés have already begun grilling the fish and handing them out in hastily wrapped paper.

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Book Review: White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings – soaring tale of two Tibetan invasions

By Tsering Namgyal

Novels about Tibet are rare, one in English by a Tibetan even rarer. For most readers, Tibetan titles tend to be non-fiction books focusing on Buddhism and meditation, and occasional memoirs of old Tibet. So Tsewang Yishey Pemba’s posthumous novel, White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings, published in February in India, marks an important milestone for Tibetan writing.

Pemba, a Western-trained surgeon who died in 2012, has several books to his name, including an earlier novel published in London in the 1960s when he was a medical student there. That novel, Idols on the Path, is considered the first in English by a Tibetan.

The biggest dilemma facing most writers about Tibet, whether historians or novelists, is to find new ways to communicate the trauma of the defining moment in contemporary Tibetan history. Pemba addresses this conundrum by locating a new and as-yet-untold aspect of Tibetan history: the presence of Christian missionaries and their little-known peccadilloes in the Himalayas. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post

Excerpts: White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings by Tsewang Yishey Pemba

white-crane-3dPaul Stevens and Rilo, the old hunter, hid behind a rock and watched. Tenga Dragotsang, Mingma and some of the other Tibetan guerrillas had taken another route to go ‘hunting’ for the day. It was almost like the old days when they had hunted mountain sheep close to the Golok country, and Tenga had pretended to have hurt his leg. Paul could still see Tenga and Rilo dancing triumphantly in the flickering light of the campfire on that icy mountainside. The wily sham! Now, they hunted soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army who had come to ‘liberate’ them. Rilo had become just as skilful and uncanny in tracking down, scenting out and hunting this species of  animal as mountain sheep and  bears.

Paul brought out his binoculars but Rilo pushed them away. ‘The reflection…the Chinese may detect us…’ he explained.

‘What can you see, Rilo?’ asked Stevens.

‘Chinese Communists,’ said the hunter, shielding his eyes. ‘Ten…twelve of  them. What a feast!’

Paul peered down the mountainside but wasn’t quite convinced. ‘Paul-o, let’s go into that clump of  trees. I’m sure that’s the way they’re heading. Just the spot for an ambush.’ ‘Agreed…’ said the young American.

Stevens, Rilo and seven Khampas scampered down the slope and ran into the trees and hid behind logs and a large rock.

‘Paul-o…you fire first,’ instructed Rilo. ‘Aim for the last man in the column.’

They waited. In spite of the intense cold and the snow, Paul found beads of  sweat on his forehead. His mouth went dry.

He saw a Khampa squat down behind a rock and urinate into the snow.

Paul’s heart thumped and his hands trembled as he waited. He heard voices approaching. He checked and rechecked that his rifle’s safety catch was released. He saw Rilo waiting behind the stump of a tree, gesturing to him excitedly that the Chinese were close. Every Khampa was ready for the kill, waiting tensely.

The Chinese platoon came along in a single file, their rifles slung behind their backs, talking casually to each other; unaware that they were walking into a Khampa guerrilla trap.  The air  was bracing and cold. Occasionally a clod of snow fell off an overladen branch and sprayed the air with a shimmer. The sun was shining brightly and the glare from the snow had induced one or two of the PLA men to don snow-goggles. Some of  them were vigorously thumping their gloved hands together to keep warm. They were rosy-cheeked, their breaths vaporous in the clear Tibetan morning air as they laughed and turned to each other, joking and poking fun.

Paul raised his rifle and took careful aim at the last man in the column, following him in his sights as he walked up the forest track—a young boyish-looking soldier. Paul fired and saw the soldier twist and stumble and the serene stillness of the mountains was shattered by the sounds of rifle fire as more Chinese soldiers went down. But they were not all dead or severely wounded for, in an instant, the Chinese fired back. Some Khampas darted out and ran from tree to tree, inviting more enemy fire mostly from automatics. And then the firing ceased.

‘Paul-o! Paul-o!’ There was loud whispering close to him.  He turned and saw Rilo just a few yards away, flat on his belly. He was smiling and appeared triumphant. A good kill… ‘Some Communists behind that log there…’ he whispered, prodding into the distance with his forefinger.

‘Where?’ whispered Paul.

‘That log…behind that log…’ said Rilo hoarsely. ‘Paul-o… I’ll go from behind. You stay here. Don’t move…don’t show yourself…’ Paul nodded. Rilo wriggled away in the snow, the jagged scar across his face showing white against his ruddy skin. Paul waited. There was a soft thud close to him as if a stone had been thrown at him to draw his attention. He turned, thinking it might be a Khampa warning him of danger or perhaps a lump  of snow fallen from a tree. In an instant he saw it was a grenade. Paul lay flat on his face and instinctively covered his head with his hands as at the same instant the grenade exploded with a tremendous roar, scattering snow and fragments of earth in a wide arc. The next moment bursts of automatic fire came from all sides and Paul looked up and saw a Chinese soldier dashing towards him, so close that he could have stretched out his hand and touched him. Paul fired, saw him lurch, stumble and disappear behind a slope. And then from every direction he saw his friends running, shooting, and shouting in excitement, and Paul realized the Communists had been overcome.

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New Release: The Three with a Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta

Book Cover_The Tree with a Thousand ApplesInspired by true events, this riveting narrative traces the lives of Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat, and Bilal Ahanagar, three childhood friends who grow up in an atmosphere of peace and amity in Srinagar, Kashmir, until the night of 20 January 1990 changes it all.

While Deewan is forced to flee from his home, Safeena’s mother becomes ‘collateral damage’ and Bilal has to embrace a wretched life of poverty and fear. The place they called paradise becomes a battleground and their friendship struggles when fate forces them to choose sides against their will.

Twenty years later destiny brings them to a crossroads again, when they no longer know what is right and what is wrong. While both compassion and injustice have the power to transform lives, will the three friends now choose to become sinful criminals or pacifist saints?

The Tree with a Thousand Apples  (Niyogi Books) is a universal story of cultures, belongingness, revenge and atonement. The stylised layered format, fast-paced narration and suspenseful storytelling makes for a powerful, gripping read.

About the Author 

Born and brought up in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, Sanchit Gupta began his career as a part-time copywriter with an advertising agency in Mumbai. He went on to co-found his own theatre group, worked as a freelance film screenwriter and as executive producer–fiction for a leading television network. His short stories have been published in several esteemed publications and literary journals, and have won acclaim in leading literary festivals and online forums. Some of them being- Tata LitLive My Story Contest, Muse India, Contemporary Literary Review India, Indian Ruminations, Qpeka and the Orange Flame Literary Review.

As a screenwriter, his script Kahwa (based on the book The Tree with a Thousand Apples) has been long-listed at Sundance International Screenwriters’ Lab- 2017. Another of his film scripts (fiction) has been long-listed at Mumbai Mantra Cinerise screenwriters’ lab- 2016. He is the co-writer of Emraan Hashmi’s first home production Captain Nawab and Rajkumar Rao- Shruti Hassan starrer Behen Hogi Teri, that shall release in May 2017.

Apart from being a writer, he is a brand management professional with a wide range of brand building and communication development experience across FMCG, automobile and media industries. His works explore his fascination for global cultures, societal structures, vagaries of the world and the human mind.

The Tree with a Thousand Apples is his debut novel. More can be found about the author and his works at www.sanchitgupta.in

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