V.K. Madhavankutty

V.K. Madhavankutty’s expertise in the art of remembering is well-known. His new work in Malayalam, Asreekaram (Accursed) which is under translation into English, is no different, what with a bouquet of reminiscences and recollections of life in a village in Kerala unfolding into a poignant story:

Reviewed by: M. Mukundan
Dina Mehta

Dina Mehta’s Mila in Love is a “cute” novel that wants to be more than a cute novel. Result: A novel with an identity crisis. This novel is an M&B romance, but meant not so much for the inexperienced teenybopper, as for the Femina woman of substance.

Reviewed by: G. Sampath
By Alai Translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin

Tibet geographically is to the South-West of mainland China. The Tibetan nomads settled in this region several centuries ago. Because of its geographical location the Tibetans were largely insulated from the changes taking place in the outside world.

Reviewed by: Ashok Vohra
G.J.V. Prasad

Vikram Seth has emerged as one of the most significant authors of Indian fiction in English. He is also the most versatile – he is a poet, travel writer, playwright and novelist – and has won major awards in each category. He has a cosmopolitan identity having lived in England, California and China as a student.

Reviewed by: Rita Joshi
C.D. Narasimhaiah

C.D. Narasimhaiah is more of an institu- tion than anything else. It is not easy to come across ‘a mere village shopkeeper’s son’ (p.11) going on in the 1940s for an English Tripos at Cambridge, finding F. R. Leavis as his Tutor there, getting nominated by him for a Rockefeller Fellowship to Princeton, making acquaintances with R. P. Blackmur

Reviewed by: Simi Malhotra
C.D. Narasimhaiah

C.D. Narasimhaiah is more of an institu- tion than anything else. It is not easy to come across ‘a mere village shopkeeper’s son’ (p.11) going on in the 1940s for an English Tripos at Cambridge

Reviewed by: Simi Malhotra
Prafulla C. Kar

Anyone involved in the business of curricu- lar literature-mongering would agree that English literary studies in most Indian universities still revolves primarily around universalist and liberal humanist notions of essential truths and ‘great traditions’, and textual criticism comprises gut reactions based on outmoded and yet unproblematized aesthetic ‘values’.

Reviewed by: Saugata Bhaduri
A. Banerjee

In sharp contrast is Jitendra Bhatia’s Justjoo-e-nihaan Urf Rooniyabaas Ki Antarkatha. This novel is about an ordinary journalist, Chandraprakash Chaubey, who fails in his investigative assignment but seeks to find a fresh meaning for his otherwise irrelevant ignominious life—investigating into the truth of an Ojhal Baba (Invisible Godman) living in some ruins near Rooniyabaas village and reputed to possess divine powers.

Reviewed by: A. Gangatharan
Shrilal Shukla

Shrilal Shukla’s novelette, Raag Viraag, on class/caste struggle, is fast and crisp with a dash of romance. However, the author seems to have a fascination for indulging his characters in self pity—right from his first novel Sooni Ghaati Kaa Sooraj.

Reviewed by: A. Gangatharan
Rabindranath Tagore

Critics, like Benedeto Croe, have not taken very kindly to translation that has in fact helped bridge language gaps. During the Raj the vernacular text was translated by the colonizers to tighten the noose around the native psyche.

Reviewed by: Sushma Bhatnagar
Kunwar Narain

In an age of postmodernist utterances, the incessant babble of the hyper-real images on our T.V. screens, the cacophony of ‘discourses’, we are left injured and stupefied by the violence of words. Our word-weary souls seek respite. It is here that poetry comes to our rescue for we need the much deprived ‘quiet peace’ for reflection and introspection.

Reviewed by: Tania Mehta
Arun Prakash

Eight fragile human figures, an equally fragile boat, the churning sea in the background – the stark matte black cover with a blue tinted black and white photograph of everyday beach life, fisherman hauling their catch – is a telling picture of this collection of Arun Prakash’s short stories.

Reviewed by: Madhu Joshi
Abhay Kumar Dubey

In their final round of “head-and-tail”—very matter-of-factly—children sing a strange limerick— Shahron mein ik shahar mila Ik shahar mila Kulkutta Kulkutte mein mila aulia Khoob mila albatta

Reviewed by: Anamika
Girdhar Rathi

Girdhar Rathi is an important Hindi critic, editor, translator, poet and litterateur. He has been the editor of the Sahitya Akademi’s journal Samkaleen Bharatiya Sahitya since 1991, which he has edited with zest and flair.

Reviewed by: Roomi Naqvi
Monica Das

Every successive gender-ratio study reveals the depressing fact that the Indian girl child is well on the way to becoming an extinct variant of the species. So it is heartening to hear her voice through this set of tales edited by Monica Das, who in her introduction sets out the chilling figures which form the painful backdrop to these stories:

Reviewed by: Bunny Suraiya
Mrinal Pande

Mrinal covered five states including West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. And often we feel that we are walking alongside. Her introduction begins thus: “Imagine a spectrum, at one end of which is a mud and straw hut in Rajasthan, where an under-nourished, anaemic nineteen year old mother of three is expecting her fourth child.

Reviewed by: K. Saradamoni
Deepti Priya Mehrotra

These two books, both published by Penguin in 2003 talk of women in India; certainly not all women and everywhere. One can see some commonalities in the two books , but they are also different and they have to be dealt with separately.

Reviewed by: K. Saradamoni
Stuart Gillespie

Written by Stuart Gillespie and Lawrence J. Haddad of the International Food Policy Research Institute and published in the year 2003, this book attempts to deal with a major problem of “the double burden of malnutrition in Asia’. The publishers have made a genuine attempt to make it accessibile by pricing it at Rs. 235.00, a level almost unknown for academic publications these days.

Reviewed by: Imrana Qadeer
Joel Knortti

The universe in a basekt: that’s what one would love to call this beautifully done up anthology of interviews, snippets, snapshots, chit-chat, profiles, psychic flow charts of seven Indo-English writers of eminence: Shashi Deshpande, Shama Futehally, Gita Hariharan, Anuradha Marwah Roy, Mina Singh, Lakshmi Kannan and Anna Sujatha Mathai.

Reviewed by: Anamika
C.S. Lakshmi

This is an anthology of interviews conducted with eleven performing women artists and forms the second part of a series that C.S.Lakshmi has edited with an introduction. While the first dealt with women musicians and their engagement with the art form…

Reviewed by: Lakshmi Subramanian
Margrit Pernau

This book is yet another addition to the growing body of literature on the family and gender. An outcome of a seminar organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation it comprises thirteen excellent essays written by scholars from different academic disciplines and political views from Germany and India.

Reviewed by: Tiplut Nongbri
Meena Kelkar

Feminism in Search of an Identity is the outcome of a University of Pune research project in the newly emerging discipline of feminist studies in India. In the book’s foreword, Professor Sharad Deshpande of the university’s Department of Philosophy…

Reviewed by: Kanchana Natarjan
K. Srilata

The Self-Respect Movement initiated by Periyar E.V.Ramasamy in 1926 constituted, no doubt, the most radical phase of the Dravidian Movement. The vast literature on the history of the movement clearly locates its radicalism in its conscious effort to give primacy to issues of gender and particularly so in the women’s voices critiquing the brahminic patriarchy.

Reviewed by: S. Anandhi
K.S. Duggal

I was gifted with a copy of the set of poems by Kabir, translated into English by the well known Sikh writer, poet and philosopher Dr. Kartar Singh Duggal. My first reaction was to ask myself how come poems with such beautiful thought had not come to my notice till so late in my life.

Reviewed by: Raja Ramanna
Hiroyuki Kotani

What was Indian society really like at the time when it came under colonial rule? What was the nature and extent of this encounter and how does it continue to affect the lives of millions of people today? These surely must be among the most frequently asked and challenging of questions confronting Indian historians.

Reviewed by: Mariam Dossal
Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu

The Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies in the Monterey Institute of International Studies, USA, along with the United States Institute of Peace and the Cooperative Monitoring Centre at the Sandia National Laboratories, USA, funded and supported the research and publication of the above volume.

Reviewed by: C.V. Ranganathan
Alexandre Andreyev

In the long and chequered annals of Tibet, India to the South and China to the West have played—and indeed continue to play—very significant roles. Expectedly, both have contributed a great deal to the texture of Tibetan life.

Reviewed by: Parshotam Mehra