Rakhi Dalal reviews The Four Colors – a poetry collection by Ankur and tells us how through these poems the poet ruminates over the images nestled in memories – streaked with hues embodying the essence of life.
Hawakal Publishers, July 2020
Our thoughts and emotions, like things around us, seem to be carrying colours of different hues. Even words that we use for their portrayal are tinged with shades of colours. Though, they are not as stark as colours in Guthrie’s Four Color theorem since they don’t map the territories of the world. Instead, they sketch the contours of mind – places where confined realms don’t exist, where porous spheres make the occurrence of feelings and ideas more circinate due to their tendency to turn up when recalled or encountered again. In any art form, the illustration of these notions corroborates the contemplations occupying a mind in a particular instant. And since their appearance may perhaps be not linear, they might get imbued with various tints.
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.
Rakhi Dalal observes The Machine is Learning by Tanuj Solanki, which poses the question of human redundancy as AI/ML make headway in the techno savvy Capitalist world. (Published by MacMillan, 2020)
Tanuj Solanki’s first book Neon Noon was shortlisted for Tata Literature Live! First Book Award. For his second book Diwali in Muzaffarnagar, he was awarded the Sahitya Academy Yuva Puraskar in 2019. The Machine is Learning is Solanki’s third book.
In the third chapter of the novel, the narrator recalls the famous game of Go, between Lee Sedol and Google Deepmind AI’s AlphaGo, where in the five match series AlphaGo had defeated Sedol, one of the best Go players of all time, by 4-1. He remembers how the IT buzzwords, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) were began to be used aggressively by IT sellers and how Lee Sedol’s loss was employed by the so called thought leaders to create hype by declaring the advent of a final Industrial Revolution where machines would become so smart that they would replace humans.
Rakhi Dalal talks about Shanta Gokhale’s autobiography, taking us through her life at large, highlighting the many milestones she created in this journey.
Publisher: Speaking Tiger ( 2019)
An eminent translator, writer, editor and columnist, Shanta Gokhale’s name needs no introduction. In 2016 she received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her overall contribution to the performing arts. She has also received lifetime achievement awards from Thespo, Ooty Literary Festival and Tata Literature Live. One Foot on the Ground – A Life Told Through the Body is her autobiography, published in 2019 by Speaking Tiger Publications. It has recently won the Crossword Book Award for English Non-Fiction (Jury).
By Rakhi Dalal
“Dada!! You are completely drenched in the rain! Hurry up inside or you’ll catch pneumonia!”
I turned abruptly and saw a rickety Chatterjee swaying from the columns of the porch. A sudden pang of cold seeped through my bones and I realised I was completely drenched. A torrent of rain was pouring over me. How did it happen? I remember seeing a peacock crossing over the hedge and landing in the front lawn while I was out for a stroll, but I can’t remember anything after that.
“Hurry up dada (elder brother)! Why are you still standing there??” Chatterjee shouted again.
I rushed in and was taken hold by Chatterjee who was himself sopping wet. He made me sit on a chair in the porch and brought a towel for me.
“Ki (why) dada, I was out calling you for so long, you didn’t even listen. What were you thinking standing in the rain?” he asked. I handed the towel to him and asked him to dry himself.
“When I was out for my evening walk, I saw a peacock flying into the lawn. Out of curiosity, I moved nearer and saw it had spread its wings to dance. The view was so mesmerising that I stood enchanted. But after that I don’t remember anything. I don’t know when the rain started.” I said. Read more
Book Review by Rakhi Dalal
Title: My Mother’s Lover and Other Stories
Author: Sumana Roy
Publisher: Bloomsbury India, 2019
Sumana Roy’s book How I Became a Tree, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Sahitya Academy Award (Non-fiction) for the year 2019. Her novel Missing was published in 2018 and poetry collection Out of Syllabus in March 2019. My Mother’s Lover and Other Stories, a collection of fourteen stories, is her fourth published work.
The blurb of the book describes this collection as stories about people suffering from curious ailments. Interestingly, the book starts with this quote by Roland Barthes:
‘I have a disease; I see language.’
This makes it seem as if the author at the start of the collection confides to the reader her own ailment. Perhaps her observations and thoughts translate into words compulsively and take the form of language. Perhaps it is the inevitable metamorphosis of images, definite and indefinite, into words in her mind, which eventually shapes into stories, essays and poems. Through these stories, she seems to contemplate ordinary people’s peculiar ailments, which do not draw much consideration in the conundrum of conventional continuance. Read more
Reviewed by Rakhi Dalal
Title: Out of Syllabus
Author: Sumana Roy
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books, 2019
Sumana Roy is a poet, novelist and essayist. She has authored three books including How I Became a Tree (memoir/non-fiction), Missing (fiction) and Out of Syllabus (poetry). Recently, she has edited a story collection called Animalia Indica. Her work has appeared in various prestigious literary magazines, newspapers and journals. She teaches at Ashoka University as Associate Professor, Creative Writing.
Out of Syllabus has 35 poems. These are categorized under different sections in different fields of study like mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and so on. At first glance, a reader might wonder about the ordering of sections but as Sumana says:
“..the essence of the poetic— the poet must hide, the reader must look for the hidden. And that a poem is often not about what one began meaning or imagining it to be.”
———– Life in Stanzas, Open Magazine.
The reader must find a meaning for herself. Read more