Sharankumar Limbale

Sharankumar Limbale’s autobiography Akkarmashi was published in 1984 and received critical acclaim. The author was twenty-five years old at the time. Written in a dialect of the Maharas, Akkarmashi was considered a path-breaking milestone in dalit autobiographical writing in Marathi.

Reviewed by: B. Mangalam
Chandra Sekhar Rath

Astride the Wheel is an accomplished translation of Yantrarudha, a 1967 Oriya novel by Sahitya Akademi Award winning writer, Chandra Sekhar Rath. Its appearance is yet another example of the ongoing attempt on the part of publishers and translators alike to rescue Indian bhasa literatures from the ghettos of provinciality to which they had hitherto been consigned.

Reviewed by: Sumanyu Satpathy
Rahi Masoom Raza

A Village Divided is a wonderful book, well worth spending money to buy and time to read.Rurially autobiographical, Rahi Masoom s Adha Gaon (1966) is a record of the life d times of his village in UP where Muslims d Hindus lived together in an accord which y has begun to seem mythical.

Reviewed by: Shobhana Bhattacharji
Lucy Rosenstein

What do you do when faced with nothing much to quarrel about with a book under review? Concur. Quote. Applaud. Celebrate. Concurrence, however, breeds few words, and a lot of yawning space. Quibbling, on the other hand, might come to your rescue. New Poetry in Hindi offers both the paths.

Reviewed by: Girdhar Rathi
Uttara Chauhan

A surprising find, A Model House is a pot ­pourri, the author’s life and interests held up to a mirror for all to see. Alaknanda moves from being Al in the leafy suburbs of Wiscon­sin, living in a fairy-tale world of NRIs to Nanda at ABCD, a design and architecture school in Gujarat.

Reviewed by: Satyajit Sarna
R. Raj Rao

The portrayal of same—sex relationships in 20th century Indian literature has been characterized, most frequently, by ambiguity or by an incipient homophobia. Critical responses to Ismat Chugtai’s Lihaaf and Ugra’s collection of short stories Chocolate…

Reviewed by: Ranjana Kaul
Radhika Jha

The Elephant and the Maruti is a collection of six stories, three set in Delhi, the other three se: in Bangalore, Puranduru, and Geneva. While diverse in their geographical locations the common underlying thread that links them all is the sense of smell, a theme that still seems a favourite with the author of the promising debut novel called, what else but, Smell.

Reviewed by: N. Kamala
Farrukh Dhondy

Lectures on poetry, commentaries on textbooks on cheese-making, emails about the inside deals in publishing houses, marketing strategies and businessmen gigolos–these are some of the varied subjects encountered in Farrukh Dhondy’s Adultery and Stories.

Reviewed by: Angelie Multani
Kalpana Swaminathan

I don’t think I have read any Indian book in recent times as avidly as I did Kalpana Swaminathan’s Ambrosia for Afters. This is a brilliant book, and one of the rare breed that targets young adults as much as it does older readers.

Reviewed by: G.J.V. Prasad
Raj Kamal Jha

You must learn to stop being yourself. That’s where it begins, and everything else follows from that.’ Raj Kamal Jha uses this most apposite quotation from Paul Auster’s Mr Vertigo to preface his second novel. I call it apposite because the entire book follows from that.

Reviewed by: Navtej Sarna
Amitava Kumar

‘How does the writer of Indian origin living abroad negotiate longing and belonging ?’ asks the editor in his highly readable and insightful Introduction to the anthology, and for a while I was persuaded that the thirty-three pieces that comprise the volume are meant to provide a range of answers to that question.

Reviewed by: Meenakshi Mukherjee
Yoginder Sikand

In the face of state instituted religious violence, the language of hate spewing across the country and the casual acceptance of this in ordinary lives, it is difficult not to stress the significance of this book, its sanity and its timeliness.

Reviewed by: Rohini Mokashi Punekar
Satish Deshpande

In this era of cross-cutting issues and research, claiming a particular expertise as one’s own may sound incongruous, but I cannot resist the temptation of confessing what I had always felt while reading Satish Deshpande and that is: reminding geographers that someone else is doing what they ought to have done.

Reviewed by: Saraswathi Raju
A.N.D. Haksar

If the original tradition of India is contained in the Vedas, the Vedanta, epics, Puranas and the Kathasaritsagar (“Ocean of Stories”), its Buddhist corpus is the Tripitaka. In a way, the counterpart of the Kathasaritsagar is the Jatakas consisting of 547 stories of past births of the Buddha as Bodhisatva (‘enlightened being’) in animal and human form.

Reviewed by: Pradip Bhattacharya
Archana Prasad

The author argues that two significant aspects Elwin’s advocacy of protectionism for tribal people have contributed to the construction of an anti-modern tribal identity. First it was based on an ecological romanticism that glorified the past and held that “tribal people had been living in harmony with nature since ancient times (p xv)….

Reviewed by: Savyasaachi
Archana Mishra

Tribal studies in India have been dominated by the romanticization of tradition visualizing the egalitarian community institutions as a pivot that propelled grassroot democracy and regulated the relationship of the tribals with their environment.

Reviewed by: Archana Prasad
Stuart Blackburn

This book is a study of the history of printing in South India focussed on the role of folklore in printed books. The author approaches the matter from a folklorist’s perspective and finds the proverbial saying “that print did not produce new books, only more old books” holds true.

Reviewed by: Sadhana Naithani
Lina Fruzzetti

Calcutta defies all stereotypes. It is commonly believed that the civic chaos and economic stagnation that would have killed any other city have not been able to subdue the spirit of this strange urban agglomeration.

Reviewed by: Shirshendu Chakrabarti
Mrinal Sen

This is a big, heavy book weighing about 5 lbs., but it is not heavy reading. On the contrary, it seems designed for scatter-brained, distracted reading—rather like watching a TV Talk Show, punctuated by commercial breaks and ‘recaps’ for those ‘who have just joined us’.

Reviewed by: Narendra Panjwani
V.K. Ramachandran

Published as the aproceedings of an international conference, organized by the Development and Planning Department of the Government of West Bengal, this is an exciting book. The book features stalwarts in the literature on the political economy of agriculture. The 20 essays and presentations are divided into 5 sections…

Reviewed by: Rajeswari Raina
Kaushik Basu

Two most momentous events of the last decade of the twentieth century changed the focus of much economic thinking. For one, the end of the Soviet empire and the Communist regime in Russia ended the debate on whether a centrally planned system of pricing was better than the decentralized pricing system of a capitalist economy.

Reviewed by: Manoj Pant
Indira Rajaraman

A Fiscal Domain for Panchayats is a curious title for a book which primarily deals with the taxation of agricultural income. Of the nine chapters in Indira Rajaraman’s slim volume, apart from the Introduction and Conclusion, eight deal with different aspects of taxing the income from agriculture, including a land tax or land revenue.

Reviewed by: Sudipto Mundle
P.C. Joshi

Ever since the collapse of socialism in East Europe and the Soviet Union the political project of Marxism has been seriously questioned. A spate of philosophies and social movements has arisen casting doubt about the relevance of Marxist theories for understanding contemporary problems.

Reviewed by: Vidhu Varma
Stephen P. Turner

In the Western intellectual tradition, virtue is a commonly used euphemism for political inequality. In a different age, writing against the practices of democratic Athens, Plato argued that only the philosophers, with their monopoly of intellectual virtue and concomitant to that, their moral virtue, were entitled to rule.

Reviewed by: Shefali Jha
Lionel Carter

Here is a man who seems to be sure what memoirs are about. Memoirs are to preserve some memories—and to erase some. It is all about presenting the narrator to history. That is one of the reasons this work is of absorbing interest and also why one should read it with caution.

Reviewed by: Sabyasachi Bhattacharya
B.R. Nanda

Looking at ‘India’ from the long-drawn historical point of view, it is a country (and an idea as well) that has primarily grown by accretion. The inclusion and subsequent exclusion of Burma both were peripheral colonial acts.

Reviewed by: T.N. Madan
Visalakshi Menon

Visalakshi Menon has given us a fascinating story of a political party at the crossroads. Having spearheaded an anti-imperialist movement and had its cadres languish in colonial jails, it debates whether to assume office and eventually forms governments in eight provinces of British India.

Reviewed by: Sucheta Mahajan
M.V. Kamath

This collection of lectures organized by the Nehru Centre, Mumbai, two years ago to reassess the relevance of Jawaharlal Nehru of the modern world makes pleasant reading. The writers are all well-known experts on politics, foreign policy, national security and modern Indian history.

Reviewed by: A.K. Damodaran