Other Side of Eden

For Mahashveta Devi, writ¬ing is a mission, a cause and a crusade. This is what we are told about the writer in the blurb of her latest novel to appear in a Hindi transla¬tion. After ‘1084 Ki Maori’, ‘Jangal Ka Davedar’ and ‘Agnigarbh’, Mahashveta Devi has attempted a novel about the Adivasis of Bihar. She has done so with authority, for she has spent years in the forested regions of Bengal and Bihar. She has an insight into geographical and experiential areas that are quite unfamiliar to the common reader.

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As a religion Islam is under¬stood by few and misunder¬stood by many. It is indeed tragic that the intellectual con¬tent of Islamic ideology is being ignored, although Islam expects its followers to be well-informed and knowledgeable. The followers of Islam appear to be ensnared by the ritualis¬tic part of their faith rather than the ideals so beautifully expressed in the Quranic text.

BOOKS IN BRIEF

Man is ultimately alone—and defeated. Through a dense particularity of circumstance this novel breathes a loneliness that imperceptibly takes the shape of universal human ex¬perience. The narrator is a Russian, exiled in India. He is without family, having lost his first wife and child in an acci¬dent and his second, an Indian, through divorce; without friends, having deliberately warded off friendship in an at-tempt to preserve his identity from being swallowed up by the land of exile.

REINFORCING COMMONALITIES

Very seldom do intellectuals run ahead of political actors, particularly in the sphere of international cooperation. Problems of regional cooper¬ation among countries located in the Indian Ocean littoral have received scant scholarly attention so far, largely be¬cause the political leaders of these countries have not pro¬ceeded beyond rhetorics to put together an infrastructure of regional cooperation.

STATE OF SIEGE

Gordon Winter is a self-confessed criminal and spy. He was a BOSS agent par excellence, a journalist by trade and a spy by profession. In May 1979, Winter defected and left South Africa with his wife and two children. The revelations of Winter regarding BOSS (Bureau of State Security) confirm and underline the fact that South Africa is a police State and in a state of siege. In response to its growing international isolation and the ever increas¬ing militancy of its oppressed black majority, the Apartheid State embarked upon a clan¬destine and aggressive propa¬ganda campaign on all fronts.

STAYING ALIVE

Profiles in Female Poverty is part of the series ‘Studies in Sociology and Social Anthropology’ edited by Prof M.N. Srinivas. I have no idea if the other titles in this series adopt an approach similar to the book under review. My impression from this book is that a wider readership could be reached if more academic studies were written in the evocative style which is a striking feature of Leela Gulati’s book.