This is a book that raises interesting ques- tions. As for example, why do so many Indians try to enter the eccentric world of the Guinness Book of Records? It is after all an intriguing and bewildering fact that so many Indians try to establish world records in the zaniest of categories every year.
The title of this book reminded me of a conversation I had over kathis in Nizam, New Market, one evening with a non-Bengali friend who loves Calcutta, knows about it as much as anyone else and would not exchange living in it for another. The city had just been renamed and my friend felt betrayed.
Sir John Marshall, then Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, used the term ‘Indus civilization’ for the culture discovered at Harappa and Mohenjodaro, a term doubly apt because of the geographical context implied in the name ‘Indus’ and the presence of cities implied in the word ‘civilization’.
Admittedly, archaeology cannot answer questions relating to faith, or questions such as whether Rama was an historical figure, or problems about locating his birthplace. However, archaeology can answer with a considerable degree of certainty, many questions about various past activities of people, for which material evidence is available.
Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi (1916–2006) was a major Pakistani poet (Jalal-o Jamal, Shola-i-Gul, Kisht-e Wafa, to name just a few), short story writer (Chaupal, Sannata, Kapaas Ka Phool and many more), and editor of many journals (Savera, Nuqoosh, Funoon, Adab-e Lateef). As one associated with the Progressive Writers Movement, who later distanced himself from it, Qasimi is acknowledged as a writer who portrayal liberal human values.
This volume is an admirable effort on the part of the editors, translators and commentators to make visible the writings of early twentieth century Bengali Muslim women. The scale of the work is fairly ambitious since the writings of about fifteen women have been anthologized.
‘Who is Johnson Thhat? And how has he managed to escape justice for so long, even when in jail?’ reads the intriguing blurb on the back of Farrukh Dhondy’s The Bikini Murders. The title itself hints at a potent combination of sex and violence, reinforced by a lurid picture of bare honey-hued legs and a pair of staring brown eyes. All designed to lure the unsuspecting reader just as the protagonist of the story did with innocent tourists.