September 2015 Posts

Chhimi Tenduf-La, “Panther”

Chhimi Tenduf-LaSri Lanka is such a beautiful country. We have it all; the beaches, the history, the hills, the heritage, the food, the smiling faces, the hospitality — and now the peace. I am getting used to this. I think I can move on. …I call up some old friends; Gish and Gayan ( Sinhalese Buddhists), Khuzi (Muslim), Gajen ( Tamil Hindu), and Shoban ( mixed-race Christian). All different, but all very similar. All just young guys, enjoying life, enjoying peace. 

My batting technique is still strong, so the boys encourage me to take up cricket professionally. I am not too old, I know it, but do I have the heart? Is it my calling? Can I use my experience to make a difference, like one of the greatest cricketers of all time, Kumar Sangakkara? He said, ‘I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan.’

Chhimi Tenduf-La’s second novel, Panther, is a cross between young adult fiction and a war novel. It is not necessarily because of the story plot and it being set in Sri Lanka, but it is also the style of writing. It has the gritty, bold experimentation in narrative, character sketches and issues often seen contemporary young adult fiction. At the same time it has the urgency and inexplicable situations often seen in war novels, surprisingly always taken in one’s stride since bizarreness is a way of life in war torn areas. So the explosively weird beginning to the novel where Prabu’s family is scattered, after which he is admitted to a posh private school given his wonderful cricketing skills is surreal, yet plausible — after all it is a society being reconstructed after civil strife.

As is common with a lot of contemporary South Asian literature there are intense conversations about identity. But it is not just about the conversations, it is the literary landscapes explored in novels like Panther  making it very clear that despite extreme fundamentalist forces in South Asia preferring to identifying a nation with a particular socio-religious entity, they are simply unable to make sufficient fissures in the community.  Panther has plenty of frank, honest and open conversations about religion, identities, attitudes — a characteristic trait of young adult fiction. It is perfect that the novel revolves around cricket, the national pastime game in many South Asian countries. Another aspect that sets this novel apart from contemporary Sri Lankan literature is the boldness with which it makes no qualms about identifying communities and mixed-races of the individuals. It plots places and people on a very real landscape unveiling the rich complexity of the nation rather than leaving it vaguely as a story about war-torn Sri Lankan, predominantly a conflict between the Tamil and Sinhalese with some Buddhists too.

Chhimi Tenduf-La is half-English and half-Tibetan who grew up in Hong Kong, London, New Delhi and Colombo. He now lives in Colombo with his family.

Read Panther.

Chhimi Tenduf-La Panther Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, NOIDA, India. Pb.pp. 270 Rs 299

18 September 2015 

Laurie Penny “Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution”

Book cover‘Neoliberalism’ refers to the attempt to reorganise society and the state on the basis of an ideal of ‘the market’. Neoliberalism proclaims the logic of business and money is the best determinant of human happiness. …

Neoliberalism is an attempt to build a ‘Machinery of Freedom’, in the words of David Friedman, in which human beings are economic creatures first and foremost. Everything we do should be about ‘maximising utility’, whether it’s in a relationship, in a job, or in social situations. The self is just an entrepreneurial project. The body is just human capital, a set of resources — whether the brain, the breasts or the biceps — which can be put to work generating an income stream. 

This affects everyone — but women most of all. Women are most likely than men to perform labour that is socially necessary but low waged or unwaged, and more likely to need public services and welfare. In this nominally freer and more equal world, most women end up doing more work, for less reward, and feeling pressured to conform more closely to gender norms. 

Neoliberalism, while extolling the ‘career woman’, reviles poor women, women of colour, sex workers and single mothers as hopeless dependants, sluts and thieves. That’s why the ‘career woman’ is a neoliberal hero: she triumphs on the market’s own terms without overturning any hierarchies. …

Neoliberalism colonises our dreams. It cannibalises our ideals of freedom and regurgitates them as strategies of social control. 

 

Laurie Penny is a feisty twenty-seven-year-old who blogs extensively, has been shortlisted for the George Orwell Laurie Pennyprize and written four books in less than five years. She lives and breathes her feminism. She rightly points out that feminism is evolving and has moved on in some senses from what the pioneering feminists like Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer wrote about. Today the movement is not necessarily about giving equal rights to one gender, ie women, but also recognising the importance of including men in the dialogue. It is also engaging with the gender under neoliberalism.  Patriarchal norms and structures continue to be very deeply embedded in social and cultural systems across the world. Having said that, it is not fair to assume that all men subscribe to the patriarchal ways of functioning. She writes with passion and has the guts to be outspoken. But she writes emotionally merging many personal narratives with her professional commentary. No harm done in bringing these two aspects of her life together but it weakens the argument of the book and making it overwhelming to read since it is not very clear where the chapters are heading to. Yet, this is a book which will be read for a long time to come.

If Laurie Penny continues to write and publish at this furious pace, creating a body of work on feminism, over time it will prove to be excellent resource material for mapping the evolution of feminism and its discourses at a point in history. For once here is a feminist, a woman, who is able to take out time and write in real time, record and create an archive of material for posterity. Otherwise a regular failing of women activists is their inability to record in words their actions and thoughts. Instead it is passed on orally from older women activists/feminists/academics to the younger generation. A sad truth. The little documentation that is available as publications ( books/films/audio clips/posters/handicrafts) is a mere drop in the phenomenal work that has been achieved or is done continuously. I LOVE the outrageous bubblegum pink cover. The many layers to the illustration of a black nib of a fountain pen ink. See it for what it is or for a sexually explicit drawing of a woman’s uterus/vagina. I truly love the boldness of the cover design.

Here is a wonderful review of the book: Gaby Hinsliff, “Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution by Laurie Penny – review” , 4 July 2014, The Guardian . ( http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jul/09/unspeakable-things-laurie-penny-review )

Read this book along with the following recent publications:

Nivedita Menon Seeing Like a Feminist  Zubaan, New Delhi, 2013.

Kate Bollick Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own Corsair, New York, 2015.

Shereen El Feki Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World Vintage, London, 2014.

Rafia Zakaria The Upstairs Wife : An Intimate History of Pakistan (English) Beacon Press, 2015.

Laurie Penny Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution Bloomsbury Paperbacks, London, 2015. Pb. pp. 270 Rs 299 

14 September 2015 

Muztar Khairabadi’s Khirman

 

Muztar Khairabadi. Photo: Jayachandran/Mint

Muztar Khairabadi. Photo: Jayachandran/Mint

The Mint published a review by Rakhshanda Jalil on Muztar Khairabadi’s Khirman, now better known as Javed Akhtar’s grandfather. She gives a fantastic account of how the poems were discovered. Slowly, spread over many years, Muztar Khairabadi body of work was put together by collecting poems from personal collections and libraries. Authenticating the poems too was a labour of love. Last week the book was finally published and released in New Delhi, India. This is a good article to Poemsread. http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/tde1HlP7hIatV65Icjbl6N/Lounge-Review-Muztar-Khairabadis-Khirman.html ( 12 Sept 2015)
InvitationSadly what is missing are the book details. From what I hear this particular book has been self-published. Limited copies have been printed and priced at an exorbitant price of Rs 10,000. The book was released by the Vice President of India.

14 September 2015 

 

 

Salman Rushdie, ” Two years eight months and twenty-eight nights: A novel”

RushdieHistory is unkind to those it abandons, and can be equally unkind to those who make it. (p14)

Salman Rushdie’s latest book, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is fiction like nothing before it. It is in the same class as Midnight’s Children —ground breaking literary fiction. Like the One Thousand and One Nights that it echoes in its title it is an intricate web of stories within stories, which showcase Rushdie’s technical, verbal and literary expertise. It is tales within tales spread over many centuries. It is about a Djinn, Duniya, and her love for a human – Ibn Rashd better known in the West as Averroes– and their family. ( Ibn Rashd was also the name Rushdie’s grandfather adopted and adapted to created his surname. “Rushdie” is not an inherited family name.)

He has created a world, sufficiently far-off in the future to create and discuss life today without really disturbing anyone’s equanimity in the present. It is very hard not to consider parts of it as being autobiographical, particularly when the authorial narrative intrudes to comment upon war, freedom, choices made as humans etc. Although in an interview with poet Tishani Doshi for the Hindu, Rushdie says categorically that autobiography is less and less important for him. He writes “something original and strange and unusual, and now there’s a mood for real life stories and so my book is the kind of anti- Knausgård”. ( http://bit.ly/1OmOcla ) Yet it is hard to separate the two parts of a man — the lived/autobiographical element and the literary fiction. For a man who has lived under the shadow of a fatwa, he has lived daily with the fear of death, much like Scheherazade the narrator of One Thousand and One Nights. In Rushdie’s case, it has made him fearless and outspoken. His speeches and articles on freedom of expression are admirable for their clarity and sharpness. For instance, listen to Rushdie at the India Today Conclave on 18 March 2012:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNzGgYvz92s . It is this confident, breezy style evident in his literary experimentation. From his very first novel it has been evident but over time it has been taken to another level — another landmark in modern literary fiction for writers to admire, probably emulate.

In Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights Rushdie sparkles when his anger simmers through the novel, but at first glance it does not seem so to exist. It just seems like a magic realism tale where innumerable characters waltz on and off the page as and when they need to play their parts. There is little time for the reader to create a “bond” with any character save for a tenuous one with Geronimo the levitating gardener. It is more like a manifesto of Rushdie’s experiences as  a writer. In a Paris Review interview of 2005, he had said: “My life has given me this other subject: worlds in collision. How do you make people see that everyone’s story is now a part of everyone else’s story? It’s one thing to say it, but how can you make a reader feel that is their lived experience?” (Salman Rushdie, The Art of Fiction No. 186 Interviewed by Jack Livings, The Paris Review, Summer 2005, No 174 http://bit.ly/1OmU2Tv ) This twelfth novel too is like an amalgamation of his experiences — cultural and literary — brought forth as a fabulist tale. It can be read for what it is at first reading or appreciated for its multiple layers. Richness of the text lies in the degree of engagement you can have with it as a reader. Ironically this novel makes a mockery of the information-overloaded age since many of the literary, cultural, political, historical and linguistic references are acquired over a period of time with reading and experience. The text cannot be deciphered by looking up references on Wikipedia. It won’t make the text work satisfactorily. Rushdie is delightfully unapologetic about blending languages and cultural references. He is what he is. This is it.

In the 2005 Paris Review interview Rushdie had been asked, “Could you possibly write an apolitical book?”. He had replied, “Yes, I have great interest in it, and I keep being annoyed that I haven’t. I think the space between private life and public life has disappeared in our time.”

If possible, read Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights  in conjunction with Joseph Anton, his memoir. But read you must.

Here are links to some recent articles and interviews with Rushdie published to coincide with the launch of Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.

Rushdie interviewed by Tishani Doshi in The Hindu, 13 September 2015. ” ‘I kind of got sick of the truth’ ” ( http://bit.ly/1OmOcla)

Nilanjana Roy’s wonderful analysis of the novel in Business Standard, 7 September 2015. “2.8.28: More hit than myth”  ( http://bit.ly/1OmP0qe )

Salil Tripathi’s review-interview with Rushdie in The Mint, 4 September 2015.  “Salman Rushdie: ‘I have no further interest in non-fiction’ ”  ( http://bit.ly/1OmQnVW )

A profile in the Guardian. An interview conducted in Rushdie’s literary agent, Andrew Wylie’s office, by Fiona Maddocks, 6 September 2015  “Salman Rushdie: ‘It might be the funniest of my novels’ ” ( http://bit.ly/1OmNtAn )

Ursula le Guin’s review in the Guardian, 4 September 2015   “Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty‑Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie review – a modern Arabian Nights”  ( http://bit.ly/1OmNKDF )

An interview with Alexandra Alter in the New York Times, 4 September 2015. “Salman Rushdie on His New Novel, With a Character Who Floats Just Above Ground”  (http://nyti.ms/1OmPhJU )

“The novel is vividly described and rich in mayhem – Isn’t this mayhem reminiscent of the knowledge we carry in our head” Eileen Battersby in the Irish Times, 12 September 2015.  “Two Years Eight Months & Twenty-Eight Nights review: Rushdie on overdrive” ( http://bit.ly/1OmPWec )

Salman Rushdie Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Books India, Gurgaon, 2015. Hb. pp. 290 Rs 599

13 September 2015

Literati: “For the price of a book…” ( 13 September 2015)


jaya_bhattacharji-300x300My monthly column, Literati, in the Hindu Literary Review was published online ( 12 September 2015) and will be in print ( 13 September 2015). Here is the http://www.thehindu.com/books/literary-review/jaya-bhattacharji-rose-on-the-hunger-for-books-in-india/article7641333.ece. I am also c&p the text below. 

How can you argue with the low prices, especially in a nation where such a hunger for books exists?

This year the Delhi Book Fair held at Pragati Maidan was held on a much smaller scale than previous years. It was dominated by stalls put up by publishers of school textbooks. Government institutions were represented by the National Book Trust, Sahitya Akademi and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts with their reasonably priced publications in many Indian languages and dialects. Religious organisations too displayed their publications, some of which were being distributed free. Most of the larger publishing houses were conspicuous by their absence (preparing for the next edition of the World Book Fair 2016).

But it was the smaller stalls of remaindered books that were fascinating. These are books that are scheduled for

Visitors having a close look at the books available at the 21st Delhi Book Fair at Pragati Maidan, in New Delhi in August, 2015. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma ( The Hindu)

Visitors having a close look at the books available at the 21st Delhi Book Fair at Pragati Maidan, in New Delhi in August, 2015. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma ( The Hindu)

pulping in other book markets and are also disposed off by weight. These titles are brought into local markets, usually priced very low. Three books for Rs.100 or for Rs. 500, depending upon their condition and interest in the book or author. It is not unusual to find books with labels from overseas school libraries and institutions, personal inscriptions or treasures like the one Jairaj Singh, a journalist, found at the Delhi Book Fair — an autographed first edition of Kingsley Amis’ Memoirs for Rs. 50 only.

People noodle through these stalls, trailing bags on wheels. Within a limited budget it is possible to acquire a pile of books till the next book fair comes around. It is to these remaindered stalls that the maximum number of buyers— teachers, parents, school children, students, librarians — go. In fact, the presence of these stalls, piled high with books, thrown in an untidy heap, was frowned upon by established publishers at the World Book Fair, February 2015. But how can you argue with the low prices, especially in a nation where such a hunger for books exists? This is borne out by the Amazon India spokesperson who says, “the number of books sold per day has grown by 1400 per cent over the past two years. Over 2500 sellers today offer lakhs of books to their customers across India on amazon.in. The portal has the largest online selection of books in India across languages, including three major regional languages — Hindi, Tamil and Kannada — which have found a huge audience, especially in non-metro cities where regional language books have featured in the top 10 bestsellers list. Over 50 per cent of the orders are coming from outside of the top eight cities.” According to informed sources, online book portals in India are growing at the rate of 12 to 15 per cent per annum.

In August 2015, the longlist for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction was revealed. It is a fabulously diverse list, exciting for the range of debut and experienced writers, geographical regions, varied writing styles and publishers it showcases. A handful, such as Anuradha Roy’s Sleeping on Jupiter, Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways, Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, Marilynne Robinson’s Lila and Anne Enright’s The Green Road are readily available. But try getting hold of Leila Lalami’s The Moor’s Sigh, Chigozi Obioma’s The Fishermen or Anna Smaill’s The Chimes — you either have to pay for  it online (there seems to be no fixed price for the edition even on the same portal, so a comparison of prices is advisable) or bide your time till  it is available at a brick-and-mortar bookshop. Recently, there have been discussions on ebook sales plateauing, primarily because of price fluctuation and smartphones replacing ereaders. (“The plot may be unravelling for e-books” Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 4 September 2015, http://cbsn.ws/1XJDgCf )

final-logo-pratham-booksThis is a trend apparent in India too, as is evident with the launch of the non-profit trust Pratham Books’ open source digital platform, Storyweaver (https://storyweaver.org.in/ ). It features 800 stories in 26 languages (14 Indian and 12 international languages), with an image repository of over 2,000 images. It can be viewed on desktop computers, laptops, tablets or mobile phones. Users will be able to read, download, translate, create, print and publish new stories through the platform using the Creative Commons licensed content on the site. Similarly, Daily Hunt (http://dailyhunt.in/ ) offers news, free and some nominally priced books, in 12 languages and has had 2.3 billion views a month.

Freshly published print books continue to be unaffordable for many readers in India, as is evident from the rush to Amartya Senbuy cheaply priced, sometimes weathered, remaindered books. Yet, it is significant to note that most Indians, despite being economically challenged, possess a handheld device. Hence, innovative ways of bringing together literature and technology to whet a ferocious book appetite at affordable prices have to be explored. It is also a tremendous way of giving neo-literates a chance to practice their literacy too, instead of it stagnating. As Amartya Sen says in his introduction to The Country of First Boys “…having an educated …population can be a major contributor to enhancing steady and sustainable economic growth.”

12 September 2015 

Storyweaver, Pratham Books

final-logo-pratham-booksWelcome to StoryWeaver from Pratham Books : http://www.storyweaver.org.inbanner-2-fc6332eba5193186348e9c5190fee65b

A whole new world of children’s stories. It is a platform that hosts stories in languages across India and beyond. So that every child can have an endless stream of stories in her mother tongue to read and enjoy. StoryWeaver is an open platform designed to be innovative and interactive. It invites both, the weaver of stories and the reader to connect and share the fascinating world of words and illustrations. This then, marks a new chapter in children’s literature and publishing. Come discover the magic of stories and the joy of reading – a cornucopia that will delight endlessly.

Medianama has a wonderful article on Pratham Books and Storyweaver. It is available at: http://www.medianama.com/2015/09/223-pratham-books-open-source/ But I am also copy-pasting the text in case it is not easily available sometimes.

Non profit trust Pratham Books has launched StoryWeaver, an open source digital platform, which features 800 stories in 24 languages (14 Indian and 12 international languages), with an image repository of over 2,000 images. These will be openly licensed and free of cost; content creators and other users will be able to read, download, translate, version-ise and print through the platform. Users will also be able to create and publish new stories, using the Creative Commons licensed content on the site.

The stories are available in Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi and Odiya, along with English translations to all these languages (and Tamil and Telugu, excepting Assamese and Malayalam). It lists publishers like itself, African StoryBook Initiative and World Konkani Centre. The stories can be filtered by reading levels as well. The platform provides DIY videos for creating and translating stories. ( https://storyweaver.org.in/tutorials )

Anyone can translate stories by clicking on the ‘translate’ option under the selected story, which redirects you to login via Pratham Books, Facebook or Google+ and provides a host of Indian and African languages, along with French, German and Spanish to translate to. It displays the original text for reference and once done translating it lets users put in a new title, creator details and publish. Pratham Books says that it has generated more work opportunities for illustrators through their CC work. It also states that its primary users are teachers, librarians, writers and parents.

The trust hopes that this move will not only encourage more content creation but also address the scarcity of multilingual story resources in India and multiply it. With the launch of the platform, the trust has also created a “Weave a story” campaign where it has roped in children’s books writers Anushka Ravishankar, Soumya Rajendran, Rohini Nilekani and Rukmini Banerjee to write a special story for children. StoryWeaver will invite users to translate these stories and the trust expects that 100 new versions will spawn out of the 3 original stories. The first story to be launched on the platform is Ravishankar’s “Its All the Cat’s Fault”, which is expected to get 5 derivative versions today.

Google Impact Challenge shortlist
In August 2013, Google had shortlisted 10 non-profit organisations in India as finalists for its Google Impact Challenge intended to support a technology based social project with an award of Rs 3 crores. Among these was Pratham Books which intended to develop an open source platform to create and translate 20,000 e-books in minimum 25 languages to enable 20 million book reads by 2015.

Launch of books crowdsourcing platform
In June, Pratham Books launched a crowdsourcing platform called DonateABook which let nonprofits and schools raise funding for books in order to provide them to Indian children. It connected book seekers with people who wanted to give books away. Then, there were 30 campaigns on the website, looking to raise between Rs 3,500- Rs 110,000 for multiple cities and towns in India.

The projects have been assigned for underprivileged kids, kids from government schools in villages, immigrant construction workers’ children and more, and sought books across Indian and English languages. Individuals as well as organisations who wanted to get books for the children they work with could also start campaigns on the platform. The platform sought to get 50,000 books for children by this Children’s Day, which falls on 14 November every year.

The Bangalore-based trust publishes cost effective books across Indian languages. It publishes books across genres like fiction, science, history, maths and nature among others. It claims to have published over 300 original titles in 18 languages, totalling up to 2,000 books across genres of fiction, nonfiction, and story books on science, history, mathematics and nature

 

8 Sept 2015

Penguin Classics from Penguin Random House India ( 8 Sept 2015)

This is a fabulous catalogue of books. Many of them are being reissued, many are translations commissioned for the first time and some are award-winning books. They have been rejacketed splendidly. A collection worth reading, dipping into, owning in personal and library collections. I am copy-pasting the catalogue with some of the beautiful book covers. For more information please contact Ambar Sahil Chatterjee, Associate Commissioning Editor, Penguin Random House India. 

Penguin_Group-logo-311DF536C6-seeklogo.com

PENGUIN CLASSICS

MODERN CLASSICS
Bengali

BENGALI
CHATTOPADHYAY, SARATCHANDRA
The Final Question
Translated by Dept of English, Jadavpur University
9780143067788 • 392 • `399 • B/PB • World
Srikanta
Translated by Aruna Chakravarthi
9780143066477 • 504 • `499 • B/PB • World
DAS, JIBANANANDA Selected Poems
Translated by C. Das Gupta
9780143100263 • 104 • `199 • B/PB • World
MITRA, PREMENDRA Mosquito and Other Stories
Translated by Amlan Das Gupta
9780143063902 • 192 • `200 • B/PB • World
PARASHURAM Selected Stories
Translated by Sukanto Chaudhuri and Palash Baran Pal
9780143062202 • 324 • `299 • B/PB • World
RAY, SATYAJIT Indigo: Selected Stories
Translated by Indrani Majumdar
9780143068099 • 264 • `350 • B/PB • World
TAGORE, RABINDRANATH
‘A towering figure in the millennium-old literature of Bengal’ New York Review of Books
‘Not only an immensely versatile poet; he was also a great short story writer, novelist, [and] essayist’ Amartya Sen
Farewell Song
Translated by Radha Chakravarthy
978014341632 • 162 • `199 • B/PB • World except US

Gitanjali
Translated by William Radice
9780143419563 • 344 • `399 • B/PB • World
Gora
Translated by Radha Chakravarthy
9780143065838 • 544 • `499 • B/PB • World
He (Shey)
Translated by Aparna Chaudhuri
9780143102090 • 176 • `250 • B/PB • World
Home and the World
Translated by Sreejata Guha
9780143031413 • 240 • `350 • B/PB • World
Letters from a Young Poet: 1887-1895
Translated by Rosinka Chaudhuri
9780143415763 • 364 • `499 • B/PB • World
Postmaster: Selected Stories
Translated by William Radice
9780140188547 • 322 • `350 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Selected Poems
Translated by William Radice
9780140183665 • 208 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
English

ALI, AGHA SHAHID The Country Without a Post Office
9780143420736 • 104 • `250 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only

ANAND, MULK RAJ
Coolie
9780140186802 • 208 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Seven Summers
9780144000180 • 256 • `250 • B/PB • World
Untouchable
9780143027805 • 160 • `200 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
DAS, KAMALA Selected Poems
Edited with an introduction by Devindra Kohli
9780143421047 • 328 • `399 • B/PB • World
HOSAIN, ATTIA Sunlight on a Broken Column
9780143066484 • 336 • `399 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent and
Singapore only
MARKANDAYA, KAMALA Nectar in a Sieve
9780143066576 • 200 • `250 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent and
Singapore only
MEHROTRA, ARVIND KRISHNA Collected Poems: 1969-2014
Introduction by Amit Chaudhuri
9780143420842 • 336 • `399 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
MEHTA, VED
Daddyji
9780143421030 • 232 • `399 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Face to Face: An Autobiography
9780143420767 • 328 • `499 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles
9780143421023 • 312 • `399 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Portrait of India
9780143422303 • 640 • `699 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
MORAES, DOM Selected Poems: 1954-2004
Edited with an introduction by Ranjit Hoskote
9780143418320 • 368 • `499 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent and
Singapore only

NARAYAN, R.K.
‘A first-rate storyteller’ New Yorker
The Guide
Introduction by Pico Iyer
9780143414988 • 224 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
The Man-eater of Malgudi
Introduction by Pico Iyer
9780143414964 • 216 • `225 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
The Vendor of Sweets
Introduction by Pico Iyer
9780143414971 • 176 • `250 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Waiting for the Mahatma
Introduction by Pico Iyer
9780143414995 • 224 • `225 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
NEHRU, JAWAHARLAL The Discovery of India
9780143031031 • 656 • `650 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent and
Singapore only
‘Gives an understanding of the glorious intellectual and spiritual
tradition of [a] great country’ Albert Einstein
RAMANUJAN, A.K. Folktales from India
9780143066439 • 456 • `499 • Demy/PB • India only
RAO, RAJA
‘A pathbreaker of Indian writing in English’ Guardian
The Cat and Shakespeare
Introduction by R. Parthasarathy
9780143422327 • 240 • `299 • B/PB • World except North America
Collected Stories
Introduction by R. Parthasarathy
9780143422310 • 240 • `299 • B/PB • World except North America

Kanthapura
Introduction by R. Parthasarathy
9780143422341 • 240 • `299 • B/PB • World except North America
The Serpent and the Rope
Introduction by R. Parthasarathy
9780143422334 • 400 • `499 • B/PB • World except North America
TAGORE, RABINDRANATH Nationalism
Introduction by Ramachandra Guha
9780143064671 • 164 • `250 • B/PB • World

Hindi

ASHK, UPENDRANATH
Falling Walls
Translated by Daisy Rockwell
9780143423690 • 440 • `599 • Demy/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Hats and Doctors
Translated by Daisy Rockwell
9780143417187 • 240 • `299 • B/PB • World except North America
JAINENDRA The Resignation: Tyagpatra
Translated by Rohini Chowdhury
Introduction by Mridula Garg
9780143415244 • 200 • `250 • B/PB • World
KAMLESHWAR Partitions
Translated by Ameena Kazi Ansari
9780143063704 • 384 • `350 • B/PB • World

PREMCHAND
‘One of the subcontinent’s best loved writers’ The Hindu
The Co-wife and Other Stories
Translated by Ruth Vanita
9780143101727 • 304 • `350 • B/PB • World
Playground: Rangbhoomi
Translated by Manju Jain
9780143102113 • 692 • `599 • Demy/PB • World
RAKESH, MOHAN One Day in the Season of Rain
Translated by Aparna Dharwadker and Vinay Dharwadker
9780670088027 • 288 • `499 • B/HB • World
SAHNI, BHISHAM
‘His literary merits—sharp wit, gentle irony, all-pervasive humour, penetrating
insight into character, mastery as raconteur, and profound grasp of the yearnings
of the human heart’ Outlook
Today’s Pasts: A Memoir
Translated by Snehal Shinghavi
9780670086665 • 300 • `499 • B/HB • World
Basanti
Translated by Shveta Sarda
9780143419815 • 220 • `299 • B/PB • World
Mansion
Translated by Shveta Sarda
9780143419822 • 352 • `399 • B/PB • World
Middle India
Translated by Gillian Wright
9780143066460 • 256 • `350 • B/PB • World
Boyhood
Translated by Anna Khanna
9780143420071 • 240 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent except Bhutan
Tamas
Translated by the author
9780143063681 • 360 • `399 • B/PB • World

Tamas
Translated by Daisy Rockwell
9780670088058 • 360 • `499 • B/HB • Indian Subcontinent only
SHUKLA, SHRILAL Raag Darbari
Translated by Gillian Wright
9780143418894 • 360 • `399 • B/PB • World
‘If fiction is the moral history of our time, Shrilal Shukla chronicled
it with a poignancy never seen before’ Frontline
VAID, KRISHNA BALDEV
‘A stalwart of Hindi literature’ The Hindu
The Broken Mirror
Translated by Charles Sparrows and the author
9780143419785 • 420 • `499 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
The Sculptor in Exile
Translated by the author
9780143419808 • 296 • `399 • B/PB • World
Steps in Darkness
Translated by the author
9780143419792 • 184 • `299 • B/PB • World
VERMA, NIRMAL
‘A uniquely tender sensibility’ Amitav Ghosh
Days of Longing
Translated by Krishna Baldev Vaid
9780143419143 • 232 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
A Rag Called Happiness
Translated by Kuldip Singh
9780143420033 • 192 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only

The Red Tin Roof
Translated by Kuldip Singh
9780143420019 • 240 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
YADAV, RAJENDRA Strangers on a Roof
Translated by Ruth Vanita
9780143423829 • 264 • `299 • B/PB • World
YASHPAL
Divya
Translated by Anand
9780143103127 • 304 • `299 • B/PB • World
This Is Not That Dawn: Jhootha Sach
Translated by Anand
Introduction by Harish Trivedi
9780143103134 • 1119 • `799 • Demy/PB • World

Malayalam

DAS, KAMALA
‘A rebel who defied categorisation’ The Times
Childhood in Malabar
Translated by Gita Krishnankutty
9780143068358 • 224 • `299 • B/PB • World
VIJAYAN, O.V. The Legends of Khasak
Translated by the author
9780143063674 • 216 • `250 • B/PB • World

Oriya

 

TAMIL
NAGARAJAN, G. Tomorrow Is One More Day
Translated by A. Julie and Abbie Ziffren
9780143414124 • 128 • `199 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent,
Singapore and Malaysia only
RAMASWAMY, SUNDARA
One of the most versatile and innovative of Tamil writers, a great modernist
and a dazzling stylist
Children, Women, Men
Translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom
9780143420149 • 552 • `499 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Winner of the Crossword Prize for Translation 2014
Tamarind History
Translated by Blake Wentworth
9780143065616 • 220 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Waves
Translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom and Gomathi Narayanan
9780143420156 • 200 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
22
TELUGU
CHASO Doll’s Wedding and Other Stories
Translated by David Shulman and Velcheru Narayana Rao
9780143068686 • 216 • `299 • B/PB • World
URDU
ALI, AHMED; MAHMUD-UZ-ZAFAR; JAHAN, RASHID
AND ZAHEER, SAJJAD Angaaray
Translated by Snehal Shingavi
9780670087174 • 208 • `499 • B/HB • World
The iconic book that changed the rules of Urdu literature
CHUGTAI, ISMAT
‘Urdu’s most courageous and controversial woman writer’ Sunday Herald
A Life in Words: Memoirs
Translated by M. Asaduddin
9780143420316 • 312 • `399 • B/PB • World
Winner of the Crossword Prize for Translation 2013
Lifting the Veil: Selected Stories
Translated by M. Asaduddin
9780143066453 • 288 • `350 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award for Translation 2004
IKRAMULLAH Regret: Two Novellas
Translated by Faruq Hassan and Muhammad Umar Memon
9780143423126 • 264 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
25
IQBAL Taking Issue and Allah’s Answer
Translated by Mustansir Dalvi
9780143416852 • 184 • `299 • B/PB • World
MANTO, SAADAT HASAN
‘The undisputed master of the modern Indian short story’ Salman Rushdie
Bitter Fruit: The Very Best of Saadat Hasan Manto
Translated by Khalid Hasan
9780143102175 • 736 • `650 • Demy/PB • World
Kingdom’s End: Selected Stories
Translated by Khalid Hasan
97801434102182 • 240 • `399 • B/PB • World
Mottled Dawn: Fifty Sketches and Stories of Partition
Translated by Khalid Hasan
Introduction by Daniyal Mueenuddin
9780143418313 • 214 • `299 • B/PB • World
My Name Is Radha: The Essential Manto
Translated by Muhammad Umar Memon
9780670086900 • 340 • `599 • Royal/HB • Indian Subcontinent only
Stars from Another Sky
Translated by Khalid Hasan
Introduction by Jerry Pinto
9780143415367 • 200 • `350 • B/PB • World
MAZOOM, REZA RAHI A Village Divided
Translated by Gillian Wright
9780143063667 • 395 • `395 • B/PB • World
NAIYER, MASUD
‘A poet’s storyteller’ Agha Shahid Ali
Collected Stories
Translated by Muhammad Umar Memon
TBC • 600 • Royal/HB • `899 • World
The Occult
Translated by Muhammad Umar Memon
9780670086993 • 240 • `399 • B/HB • South Asia except Pakistan

BLACK CLASSICS

BENGALI
CHAKRAVARTI, KAVIKANKAN MUKUNDARAM Chandimangal Translated by Edward M. Yazijian
9780143422181 • 360 • `399 • B/PB • World
DUTT, MICHAEL MADHUSUDAN The Poem of the Killing of Meghnad: Meghnādbadh kābya
Translated by William Radice
9780143414131 • 552 • `499 • B/PB • World
HOSSAIN, ROKEYA SAKHAWAT Sultana’s Dream and Padmarag Translated by Barnita Bagchi
9780144000036 • 228 • `250 • B/PB • World
A feminist utopian cult classic
ENGLISH
CHATTOPADHYAY, BANKIM CHANDRA Rajmohan’s Wife
Introduction by Meenakshi Mukherjee
9780143067436 • 168 • `250 • B/PB • World
FRENCH
DUTT, TORU Diary of Mademoiselle D’Arvers
9780143032557 • 168 • `200 • B/PB • World
32 33
GUJARATI
ANANDGHAN It’s a City-showman’s Show!: Transcendental Songs of Anandghan
Translated by Imre Bangha and Richard Fynes
9780143415558 • 168 • `299 • B/PB • World except North America
and Australia
HINDI
BANARASIDAS Ardhakathanak: A Half Story
Translated by Rohini Chowdhury
Introduction by Rupert Snell
9780143100546 • 360 • `399 • B/PB • World
The first autobiography in the Indian literary tradition
KABIR Kabir: The Weaver’s Songs
Translated by Vinay Dharwadker
9780143029687 • 328 • `399 • B/PB • World
Winner of the Sahitya Akademi English Translation Award 2007
KANNADA
I Keep Vigil of Rudra: The Vachanas
Translated with an introduction by H.S. Shivaprakash
9780143063575 • 262 • `299 • B/PB • World
Speaking of Siva
Translated by A.K. Ramanujan
9780140442700 • 200 • `250 • B/PB • India only
KASHMIRI
DĚD, LAL I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Děd
Translated by Ranjit Hoskote
9780143420781 • 328 • `299 • B/PB • World
Winner of the Sahitya Akademi English Translation Award 2013
MALAYALAM
PUNTANAM AND MELPATTUR Two Measures of Bhakti
Translated by Vijay Nambisan
9780143064480 • 108 • `150 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent and
Singapore only
PALI
Jatakas, The: Birth Stories of the Bodhisatta
Translated by Sarah Shaw
9780144001477 • 408 • `399 • B/PB • World

PERSIAN
GHANI, TAHIR The Captured Gazelle: The Poems of Ghani Kashmiri
Translated by Mufti Mudasir Farooqi and Nusrat Bazaz
9780143415626 • 280 • `399 • B/PB • World
KHUSRAU, AMIR In the Bazaar of Love: The Selected Poetry of Amir Khusrau Translated by Paul E. Losensky and Sunil Sharma
9780143420798 • 224 • `299 • B/PB • World
A comprehensive selection from one of the best-loved and most accomplished poets of the subcontinent
PRAKRIT
The Absent Traveller: Prakit Love Poetry from the Gathasaptasati of Satavahana Hala Translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
9780143100805 • 120 • `199 • B/PB • World
‘Witty, terse, spare, memorable’ A.K. Ramanujan
Circle of Six Seasons: A Selection from Old Tamil, Prakrit and Sanskrit Poetry Translated by Martha Ann Selby
9780141007724 • 200 • `250 • B/PB • World
Forest of Thieves and the Magic Garden
Translated by Phyllis Granoff
9780140437225 • 384 • `399 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only

SANSKRIT
BANA Kadambari
Translated by Padmini Rajappa
9780143064664 • 424 • `399 • B/PB • World
Winner of the Sahitya Akademi English Translation Award 2014
Bhagavad Gita, The
Translated by Juan Mascaro
9780140441215 • 128 • `250 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
BHASA The Shattered Thigh and Other Plays
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780143104308 • 160 • `250 • B/PB • World
DANDIN Tales of the Ten Princes: Dasa Kumara Charitam
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780143104223 • 218 • `250 • B/PB • World
Hindu Myths
Translated by Wendy Doniger
9780144000111 • 357 • `399 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
KALIDASA
The greatest poet of the Sanskrit language
Abhijnanashakuntalam: The Recognition of Shakuntala
Translated by Vinay Dharwadker
9780670087464 • 300 • `399 • B/HB • World
Kumarasambhavam: The Origin of the Young God
Translated by Hank Heifetz
9780143424079 • 240 • `399 • B/PB • World
The Loom of Time
Translated by Chandra Rajan
9780144000784 • 344 • `399 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only

Malavikagnimitram: The Dancer and the King
Translated by Srinivas Reddy
9780143424086 • 176 • `399 • B/PB • World
Raghuvamsam: The Line of Raghu
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780670087105 • 208 • `399 • B/HB • World
KAUTILYA The Arthashastra
Translated by L.N. Rangarajan
9780140446036 • 872 • `650 • Demy/PB • World
The pre-eminent manual on statecraft
KSHEMENDRA
The Courtesan’s Keeper: Samaya Matrika
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780143421474 • 200 • `299 • B/PB • World
Three Satires from Ancient Kashmir
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780143063230 • 184 • `250 • B/PB • World
MALLA, KALYANA Suleiman Charitra
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780143420590 • 144 • `250 • B/PB • World
MANU Laws of Manu
Translated by Wendy Doniger and Brian K. Smith
9780140445404 • 368 • `450 • B/PB • India only
NARAYANA Hitopadesa
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780144000791 • 260 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
PATANJALI Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra
Translated by Shyam Ranganathan
9780143102199 • 336 • `399 • B/PB • Commonwealth countries and South Asia only
The foundational text for the practice of yoga

Rig Veda
Translated by Wendy Doniger
9780140444025 • 344 • `399 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
SANKARA The Roots of Vedanta
Translated by Sudhakshina Rangaswami
9780143064459 • 480 • `499 • B/PB • World
ŚARMA, VISNU The Panćatantra
Translated by Chandra Rajan
9780144000715 • 512 • `499 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Seduction of Shiva, The: Tales of Life and Love
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780143415404 • 256 • `399 • B/PB • World
Simhasana Dvatrimsika: Thirty-Two Tales
Translated by A.N.D. Haskar
9780140447484 • 216 • `250 • B/PB • World
SIVADASA The Five and Twenty Tales of the Genie
Translated by Chandra Rajan
9780144000456 • 336 • `299 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
SOMADEVA Tales from the Kathasaritasagara
Translated by Arshia Sattar
9780140247213 • 264 • `350 • B/PB • World
Subhashitavali: An Anthology of Comic, Erotic and other Verse
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780143101369 • 208 • `250 • B/PB • World
TRYAMBKAYAJVAN The Perfect Wife: Stridharmapaddhati
Translated by Julia Leslie
9780140435986 • 392 • `375 • B/PB • World

Upanisads, The
Translated by Valerie J. Roebuck
9780140447491 • 503 • `499 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
VALMIKI Ramayana
Translated by Arshia Sattar
9780140298666 • 696 • `699 • B/PB • World
A brilliant, beloved translation of the great Indian great epic
VATSYAYANA
Kama Sutra: A Guide to the Art of Pleasure
Translated by A.N.D. Haksar
9780670085637 • 240 • `450 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana
Translated by Richard Burton
9780143066446 • 258 • `350 • B/PB • World
TAMIL
Extraordinary Child
Translated by Paula Richman
9780143063179 • 312 • `375 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent and
UK only
ILANGO Cilappatikaram: The Tale of an Anklet
Translated by R. Parthasarathy
9780143031963 • 440 • `450 • Demy/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Winner of the Sahitya Akademi English Translation Award 1995
KAMBAN The Kamba Ramayana
Translated by P.S. Sundaram
9780143028154 • 464 • `450 • B/PB • World
Love Stands Alone: Selections from Tamil Sangam Poetry
Translated by M.L. Thangappa
Introduction by A.R. Venkatachalapathy
9780143103974 • 256 • `299 • B/PB • World
Winner of the Sahitya Akademi English Translation Award 2012
River Speaks,The: The Vaiyai Poems from the Paripatal
Translated by V.N. Muthukumar and Elizabeth Rani Segran
9780143415077 • 182 • `250 • B/PB • World except North America

NAMMĀLVĀR
A Hundred Measures of Time: Tiruviruttam Translated by Archana Venkatesan
9780143066378 • 280 • `399 • B/PB • World
Hymns for the Drowning Translated by A.K. Ramanujan
9780144000104 • 175 • `250 • B/PB • World
Red Lilies and Frightened Birds: Muttollayiram Translated by M.L. Thangappa
Introduction by A.R. Venkatachalapathy
9780143064855 • 240 • `299 • B/PB • World
TIRUVALLUVAR Kural
Translated by P.S. Sundaram
9780144000098 • 168 • `250 • B/PB • World
TELUGU
APPARAO, GURAJADA Girls for Sale: Kanyasulkam Translated by Velcheru Narayana Rao
9780143066880 • 366 • `350 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
KRISHNADEVARAYA, SRI The Giver of the Worn Garland: Amuktamalyada Translated by Srinivas Reddy
9780143065456 • 264 • `250 • B/PB • World
A masterpiece by the sixteenth-century emperor Krishnadevaraya
of Vijayanagaram

MUDDUPALANI The Appeasement of Radhika
Translated by Sandhya Mulchandani
9780143417484 • 200 • `250 • B/PB • World
TURKISH
BABUR Babur Nama
Translated by Annette Beveridge
Selected with an introduction by Dilip Hiro
9780144001491 • 385 • `450 • B/PB • World
URDU
AMMAN, MIR A Tale of Four Dervishes
Translated by Mohammed Zakir
9780140245738 • 158 • `199 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
Tilism-e-Hoshruba: The Enchantment of the Senses
Translated by Shahnaz Aijazuddin
9780143102724 • 924 • `699 • Demy/PB • World
The world’s first magical fantasy epic

 

MISCELLANEOUS CLASSICS

ARABIC
Quran
Translated by Tarif Khalidi
9780670084173 • 560 • `599 • B/HB • Indian Subcontinent only
BENGALI
CHATTOPADHYAY, SARATCHANDRA Classic Saratchandra 9780144000142 • 816 • `699 • Demy/PB • World
TAGORE, RABINDRANATH Classic Rabindranath Tagore 9780143416326 • 1136 • `599 • Demy/PB • World
TAGORE, RABINDRANATH I Won’t Let You Go: Selected Poems Translated by Ketaki Kushari Dyson
9780143416142 • 320 • `450 • Demy/PB • Indian Subcontinent and
Singapore only
ENGLISH
ANAND, MULK RAJ Classic Mulk Raj Anand
Edited with an introduction by Saros Coswajee
9780143422402 • 728 • `599 • Demy/PB • Indian Subcontinent only
AUSTEN, JANE Classic Jane Austen
9780143068594 • 1336 • `550 • Demy/PB • World
52 53
CARROLL, LEWIS Classic Lewis Carroll
9780143068617 • 1176 • `599 • Demy/PB • World
DOYLE, SIR ARTHUR CONAN Classic Sherlock Holmes
9780143068600 • 1128 • `599 • Demy/PB • World
NARAYAN, R.K. Indian Epics Retold
9780140255645 • 630 • `599 • B/PB • Indian Subcontinent and
Singapore only
SANSKRIT
Bhagavad Gita, The
Translated by Juan Mascaro
9780670084166 • 124 • `350 • B/HB • Indian Subcontinent only
Mahabharata, The Volumes 1-10
Translated by Bibek Debroy
9780143424789 • `4999 • Demy/PB • World
The greatest story ever told, now in its definitive translation
‘Debroy’s lucid and nuanced retelling of the original makes
the masterpiece even more enjoyably accessible’ Open
‘Excellent . . . A pleasure to read’ Tribune
Volume 1
9780143425144 • 536 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
Volume 2
9780143425151 • 528 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
Volume 3
9780143425168 • 648 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
Volume 4
9780143425175 • 624 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
Volume 5
9780143425182 • 632 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
Volume 6
9780143425199 • 560 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
Volume 7
9780143425205 • 600 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
Volume 8
9780143425212 • 752 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
Volume 9
9780143425229 • 760 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
Volume 10
9780143425236 • 726 • `499 • Demy/PB • World
VALMIKI Ramayana
Translated by Arshia Sattar
9780670084180 • 696 • `699 • B/HB • World

 

For more information please contact:

Ambar Sahil Chatterjee ( achatterjee@penguinrandomhouse.in )

Associate Commissioning Editor

Penguin Books India

Penguin Random HousePRH logo

 

 

ABIJNANASAKUNTALAM_WEB

 

 

 

A HUNDRED MEASURES OF TIME_web

THE CAT AND SHAKESPEARE_webANGAARAY_web (1)

 

 

MY NAME IS RADHA_web (2)

Nell Zink, “The Wallcreeper”

The WallcreeperNell Zink’s debut novel, The Wallcreeper, was published in 2014. (It has recently been followed by Mislaid.) The Wallcreeper is a slim novel, about Tiffany and Stephen who met when they were colleagues at a pharmaceutical firm in Philadelphia USA. They married within few weeks and relocated to Berlin, Germany. Tiffany learns, “I wasn’t a feminist. Even men in their seventies…would raise their eyebrows when I said I had followed my husband from Philadelphia to Berne and then to Berlin. I couldn’t come up with a step I’d taken in life for my own sake.” The Wallcreeper  is also about birding, open marriage, environmental activism and later, environmental sabotage too.

From the opening line of the novel you are hooked to the story. “I was looking at the map when Stephen swerved, hit the rock, and occasioned the marriage.” The novel continues in the same calm, confident, feisty and forthright tone. The former bricklayer and secretary, fifty-year-old Nell Zink was published for the first time last year at the insistence of Jonathan Franzen. She had written a fanzine to him a few years ago. Upon reading her prose that she began sending him regularly, he persuaded her to stop writing for an audience of one and consider a larger readership. Her debut novel, The Wallcreeper, had already been accepted by a small press called Dorothy that specialises in women’s writing. So Nell Zink’s second novel, Mislaid, was represented by Franzen’s agent and got Zink a six-figure advance. Both the novels have received a resounding reception in USA and are soon to be available in India too.

When you write for an audience of one, it is inevitable that the writing is imbued with a rawness and a sense of intimacy that is refreshingly confident. It a no-holds-barred style of writing. Surprisingly Nell Zink’s novels are churned out rapidly in a period of three weeks. They are well structured, with no flabbiness to the prose and bring in pithy observations on issues such as science, ethics, environment, feminism, freedom, the institution of marriage etc. On marriage, Nell Zink writes, “Marriage isn’t a sacrament. It’s just a bunch of forms to fill out. It either works or it doesn’t. Do what you want.” She is an eclectic and voracious reader judging by the literary references sprinkled throughout the novel. Otherwise how else do you account for a casual reference made yoking together Stanislaw Lem and The World of Apu in one paragraph? ( The World of Apu is a 1959 Bengali film drama made by noted filmmaker Satyajit Ray. It was based on the 1932 Bengali novel, Aparajito, by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay.) She writes as people would speak when sure that their statements are being made in confidence. The one-liners that are embedded throughout her story come across as off-the-cuff perceptive comments that seem to have been carried over from the spoken word onto paper and fixed. This probably occurs due to the speed at which she thinks and writes prose. It is an incredible form of writing.

The cover design for the book is stupendous showing a wallcreeper feather. Yet I cannot help but think the design is Burial Ritesvery similar to another fantastic debut novel, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.

This profile of Nell Zink in the New Yorker by Kathryn Schulz published on 18 May 2015 is fabulous. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/18/outside-in . Some other links worth reading are:

Robin Romm, review of The Wallcreeper, NYT, 17 Oct 2014  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/books/review/nell-zink-wallcreeper-review.html?_r=0

From the Guardian, January 2015: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/04/nell-zink-jonathan-franzen-clear-distinction-taking-career-seriously-writing-seriously

The Paris Review, December 2014:  http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2014/12/08/purity-of-essence-one-question-for-nell-zink/

An interview in  Vice, June 2015: http://www.vice.com/read/nell-zink-is-damn-free-585

A profile in The Literary Hub, May 2015: http://lithub.com/the-mislaid-plans-of-nell-zink/

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is not necessarily only for the story, but the style too.

Nell Zink The Wallcreeper Fourth Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, London, 2014. Hb. pp.168 

4 September 2015 

 

Michel Bussi, “After the Crash”

Michel BussiInteresting little book. It is a translation. A thriller. Detailed as you would expect mystery stories to be. Bulk of the action takes place in 48 hours, although the air crash and mixed-up identities around which the story revolves took place eighteen years earlier. It employs the literary technique of interspersing journal entries with the plot moving in real time as well. So it is not always the flashback technique in a straightforward narrative but text that appears at the right moment — just when the character reading the journal and  reader of After the Crash begin to have questions, they are neatly supplied by the journal. Many readers and critics of After the Crash are putting Michel Bussi in the same league as Steig Larsson and Joel Dicker. The comparison is inevitable since all three authors have written gripping thrillers, each unique in its treatment of plot, style and storytelling and curiously enough, the books are translations that seem to have transcended all cultural barriers and caught the imagination of readers worldwide. Michel Bussi too is a man worth reading. 

Michel Bussi After the Crash ( Translated from the French by Sam Taylor) Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Hachette, Great Britain, 2015. Pb. pp.390 Rs 399

1 September 2015