We are at our best when we are young. And so the story goes downhill. From what I can remember, poetry meant something completely different to me when I was young and in school. It was that odd language, imperfectly printed, aligned and punctuated, and it stood for everything that I could not connect with. Worse still, it was unavoidable. Such is the predicament of our conversation with art at that febrile stage; it feels like a whole lot of smoke being blown in our face. Most of these conversations are taught, or ‘coached’, and it says something about the manner of doing so, that we carry it like a burden.
I will begin this review with a clichéd commonplace—in the similar manner in which several reviews of Eunice de Souza’s works begin—by foregrounding her India, and specifically ‘Goan’ identity. De Souza was born in 1940 into a Roman Catholic family in Pune. Her family originally belonged to Goa.
The better poems in this volume are exquisitely crafted and polished to near perfection. Richly layered with an inner life that reveals itself as each poem unfolds, Summer Requiem seduces the senses and draws the reader into a reverie that seems never-ending, awash with shifting moods and remembered experiences threading together the sublime and the pedestrian with gentle profundity.
A good reason to get the newspaper Indian Express is that most Sundays there is an article by Ranjit Lal on the animal or plant world. These articles look with gentle humour and a different perspective at fellow inhabitants of our earth: bugs, birds, animals. They may be creatures we have just read about, or even those we see every day, mostly unnoticed by us as we whiz past busily through our very important lives, sometimes destroyed by us deliberately or unthinkingly.
Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean is an anthology of feminist fiction from Australia and India, some of them collaborations between writers and artists from both nations. It’s an interesting mix of graphic stories, short stories, and plays. The Introduction is a sort of story too—why and how this book was made.
The rise of indigenous graphic novels in India is not entirely steady or even smooth. While the premise of a graphic novel is exciting, it’s not easy to come across a writer-illustrator duo who can pull off the task with panache. In the case of The Cobrapost Affair, one can say they almost accomplish it, if it only weren’t for the absurdity of the tale that ensues.
Recently, an Australian television channel telecast a documentary about an Afghan now domiciled in Australia, returning to Kabul to revive a music school. The success of the school, scored not just in terms of the music the students and teachers create, but the unique stories of desires and struggles, testifies to the tenacity of the human spirit.
It’s not very often that one gets access to the rarefied world of boys who are on the cusp of becoming men. This is a precarious world they occupy, often populated with insensitive adults, jeering peers, and unfathomable fears—some imaginary, some unfounded—that threatens to come all undone at the slightest provocation or insult. Thankfully, Being Boys is a refreshing revelation of the male adolescent psyche that doesn’t resort to stereotypes of what boys should be like or aspire to become.
The Boy Who Speaks in Numbers takes us into spaces that Young Adult fiction usually does not go. Here it is a village in the Jaffna area of Sri Lanka that is bombed during the civil war and then a refugee camp for Tamils with its unique horrors. As the back cover says, ‘in all places where human deaths are reduced to numbers and guns do not differentiate between adults and children.’
This delightful collection brings to life in translation the magical world of Satyajit Ray’s science fiction for children. Through the character of the maverick scientist Professor Trilokeshwar Shonku, these narratives explore the frontiers of science and technology but also of the human imagination. Satyajit Ray (1921–1992) is best known as a film-maker, but he was also a writer, publisher, graphic artist and music composer. He was fascinated by mysteries. Apart from the scientist-adventurer-explorer Shonku he also created the sleuth Feluda whose exploits became the subject of several successful films.