India has been in the thick of a revolution of rising expectations, visible more sharply for more than two decades. I believe that the new middle class, as is generally defined, is the by-product of high expectations thrown up by changing domestic opportunities and the atmosphere of liberalization generated by new forces of globalization at home and abroad.
Nandini Nayar, whose earlier book for children, Pranav’s Picture, dealt with a child’s imaginary drawings, uses a different medium of expression used by children all over the world this time around, namely dough. While in the West, play dough or plasticine (as it used to be called in India some generations ago) is the chosen material for children to make shapes and get their tactile senses fine tuned, in India,
In a yet unpublished book, this is how Suniti Namjoshi sets down the charter for her mission of storytelling, a charter she has already adhered viscously to in five books of her Aditi series for children. Namjoshi’s stories strive, above all else, to maintain the balance outlined by Aditi’s grandmother between levity and learning.
Payal Dhar’s fantasy novels A Shadow in Eternity and The Key of Chaos tell the story of Maya Subramaniam, a twelve-year old girl who lives a normal boring life in Bangalore, until one day an eerily tall man called Noah arrives to tell her that she is meant for greater things,
I’ve read To Market, To Market! greedily for the fourth time, absolutely delighted with the beautiful illustrations, but also because I couldn’t really remember the text terribly well the first time around. To Market…is undoubtedly a wonderful work visually, but I found myself thinking, at various points,
A Winter’s Night and Other Stories is a sleek production of ten stories, supposedly for children. In the ‘Translator’s Note,’ Rakhshanda Jalil makes two irreconcilable remarks. ‘This selection has been made especially for young readers of the age group twelve to fifteen years,’ she says before retracing in the very next sentence ‘… in putting together this collection I did not consciously set out to collect only children’s stories’.
Kumar Mukherji died just as this book was published. The enthusiastic reception (Ram Guha in his column in The Hindu called it one of the most significant non-fiction books written in post-independent India) would have pleased him enormously. He was certainly keen to share his vast fund of stories and knowledge with a wider Indian audience. Originally serialized in the Bengali literary magazine Desh, it was published to wide acclaim in 1995 as Kudrat Rangbirangi, by Ananda Publishers and went on to win the prestigious Rabindra Puraskar.
Naiyer Masud is a great scholar of Persian and has three collections of short stories to his credit which include Seemiya, Itre Kaafoor and Taa’uus Chaman ki Mayna. A two-time winner of the Katha Award (1993 and 1997) for his stories ‘Ray Khandan ke Asar’ and ‘Sheesha Ghat’ and the winner of the Presidential Certificate of Honour (1997) for his ‘outstanding contribution to Persian’, Masud is not a very prolific writer by his own admission, (he has written only twenty-two short-stories in twenty-five years).
Kazi Nazrul Islam is a legendary poet in the modern literature of India in the twentieth century. Inspite of the fact that Rabindra Nath Tagore was active and alive, he became the most popular poet of Bengali of his time. Unfortunately, for those who are not able to read him in the original Bengali, his poetry in translation has not so far come through as innovative, intense and powerful as it is in the original.
Akhtar Husain Raipuri’s memoir The Dust Of The Road offers a varied fare to its readers. The wide range of his experiences and the eventful times through which he lived makes Raipuri’s memoir interesting. A man of sound secular upbringing and Marxist leanings, Raipuri’s account of his travels and travails is in fact a retrospective glance cast over a life lived to its full.