Indira Goswami

Thengphakhri ‘Baideo’ is the first Indian woman to be awarded the position of Izardar (or Tehsildar) by the contemporary British regime. She was given the responsibility to collect taxes in Mahan, Sunkush and Burhidiya, all belonging to a landlocked place popularly known today as ‘Bodoland’—on one side Bhutan and Sikkim, on another Coochbehar, while on the other sides Ahom and Bijni kingdoms ruled this small land.

Reviewed by: Himadri Roy
Ru Freeman

D isobedient Girl by Ru Freeman is a story, in parallel, about two wo-men living in two different periods of time and in different situations. The novel is set in Sri Lanka against the backdrop of the political upheaval and social unrest of that time.

Reviewed by: Indu Liberhan
Shane Joseph

‘There was fear in the air—downcast eyes, nervous scurrying—for bombs had exploded in these close confines in the past, killing disproportionate numbers of packed humanity. The heat, humidity and stench of human effluence in the enclosed stalls made me nauseous.’ Shane Joseph’s Paradise Revisited is set against the background of the recent tragic, violent events that tore Sri Lanka apart and cast a long shadow.

Reviewed by: Rehana Sen
R. Venketesh

Gods, Kings & Slaves is the story of two primary protagonists, both known to history. The first protagonist is Veera Pandyan of Madurai, and the other is a Hindu boy from Gujarat, who becomes Malik Kafur, Alauddin Khilji’s famous general. What the author does extremely well is to take characters from our history about whom we do not have much information, but are known enough so as to not appear fictional characters…

Reviewed by: T.C.A. Achintya
Suniti Namjoshi

Maybe being an aggressive lesbian feminist was the easiest way for a young woman from India to find fame in those happening decades of 60’s and 70’s in the West (where Suniti Namjoshi has lived most of her adult life.) It is a pity though that she found fame thus, for her real talent lies elsewhere. It is in the magic that she weaves with words. It lights up everything she writes—poetry, prose, parables, fables, fantasies…

Reviewed by: Kiran Doshi
Michelle Cohen Corasanti

‘You cannot go back and make a new start, but you can start now and make a new ending.’– The Almond Tree. Michelle Cohen Corasanti places one family at the centre of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians to depict how it feels to be a Palestinian and have one’s land taken away and belongings destroyed under a strict military rule.

Reviewed by: Semeen Ali
Anita Nair

Anita Nair locates Idris: Keeper of the Light in the seventeenth century and draws our attention to a period of time chronicled by the better known Gregorian calendar between 1625 AD to 1661 AD.

Reviewed by: Ratna Raman
Amal Allana

This is a deeply pleasurable, immersive and impressive collection. It is a compilation about actors, their thoughts, ideas, craft and it captures the milieus in which they have lived and worked. The Act Of Becoming edited by Amal Allana is a collaborative publication by Niyogi Books and The National School of Drama. It provides us with accounts of 22 theatre actors from the 1880s to the present.

Reviewed by: Neelam Man Singh
Lakshmi Devnath

Lakshmi Devnath serves up a breathless narration on the life of the legendary violin maestro Lalgudi G. Jayaraman. It is like a Carnatic music Kutcheri alternating between Kalpita and Manodharma. As Devnath explains in the book, Carnatic music consists of two main modes. Kalpita and Mano-dharma.

Reviewed by: V.R. Devika
Sunil Kothari

The book under review is an absolute vi- sual delight. And adding weight to the beauty of the hardbound book is the tremendous value each page holds as a source of information and knowledge about Sattriya dance. The book boasts of contributions by eminent experts in the field including the likes of Maheswar Neog, multifaceted scholar of Assamese arts, culture and literature…

Reviewed by: Juanita Kakoty
Sunetra Gupta

After decades of success in buying out some of Britain’s most iconic media institutions, Australia born media baron Rupert Murdoch’s ambitious plans hit an extraordinary road block in July 2011. His bid to increase his stake in the British Sky Broadcasting, the distribution arm of his television network in the UK, was not only thwarted but in the ensuing investigations…

Reviewed by: Aasim Khan
S.V. Srinivas

S.V. Srinivas’s new book tracks a history of Telugu cinema over fifty formative years, in terms of its industry as well as the cultural shifts in the medium. Beginning with the premise that the connection between cinema and the politics of a society is a crucial one, SV (as he is popularly known among colleagues and friends) explores the beginnings of Telugu cinema in the context of the rise of new socio-political elites…

Reviewed by: Asma Rasheed
Paul Shemella

What does it take to win a war? Leadership, sol-diers, strategy, weapons or finance? What explains the inadequate accomplishments of the states, with enormous resources at their disposal, vis-à-vis terrorism? Are we confronting an enemy which simply can’t be defeated? Or philosophically speaking, are we, with an aim of defeating terrorism, merely fighting against ourselves…

Reviewed by: Bibhu Prasad Routray
Fakir Mohan Senapati

From a Minister’s Journal by Fakir Syed Aizajuddin narrates his impressions gathered over time, primarily spanning former President Pervez Musharraf’s term in Pakistan (1999-2008). Aizajuddin is a writer with wide ranging experience—first as a chartered accountant with considerable corporate experience…

Reviewed by: Priyanka Singh
Sugata Bose

His Majesty’s Opponent tells the story of Subhas Chandra Bose whose life was as mysterious as his death was believed to be. While history text-books have limited his description to that of a warrior and a revolutionary in the Indian struggle for freedom, this bespectacled man with an innocent face has more to him than meets the eye, and much more to offer to the intellectual discourse on Indian politics.

Reviewed by: R. Nithya
Azra Khanam

If we believe Alistair Macmillan, India has surprised democratization theorists and fits the case for ‘deviant’ democracy. Despite the persistence of inequality, poverty, illiteracy, corruption and low urbanization, it has been able to remain a democratic state. This argument could be borrowed to explain the situation of minorities, especially Muslims…

Reviewed by: Manjur Ali
T.N. Madan

Sociology in India is not synonymous with sociology at Lucknow University. The latter however happens to be a significant bloc in the whole of the historical edifice. In an exciting neatness, and meatiness, this book offers a nuanced peek at the four legendary figures from the posterity of Lucknow University. Radhakamal Mukerjee, Dhurjati Prasad Mukerji, Dhirendra Nath Majumdar…

Reviewed by: Dev N. Pathak
B.N. Goswamy

Observing, embodying and document- ing these moments of transition and experiencing India in all its splendour and unfamiliarity were English painters Thomas Daniell and William Daniell. Thomas, the senior of the two, was born in 1749 and after struggling for some years as a painter in England, ‘animated with a love of the romantic and the beautiful…

Reviewed by: Malvika Maheshwari
Krishna Jha

The story of the demolition of the Babri Masjid is fairly well known. The sordid tale of the original conspiracy to make that now extinct historical monument the focus of Right Wing political mobilization soon after Independence is not as well known.

Reviewed by: Amar Farooqui
Malashri Lal

Chamba Achamba seeks to record and narrate in detail the unique and rich cultural traditions associated with the beautiful area of Himachal Pradesh which has always been synonymous with natural splendour, music, festivals and legends that fascinate.

Reviewed by: Jaskiran Chopra
Per Stahlberg

I picked up Per Stahlberg’s book, or rather, his doctoral thesis, Writing Society through Media: Ethnography of a Hindi Daily with a lot of interest. A keen look into what makes Hindi journalism tick, especially seen through the lens of a journalist working in the Hindi heartland) is a fascinating topic. I used to work in a newspaper myself, have travelled in Uttar Pradesh…

Reviewed by: Mahima Kaul
Jasbir Jain

The book under review takes the difficult path of exploring resistance in literature. Resistance stands against conformism. Resistance is disapproval of conformism. It attempts to discontinue ‘obviousness’ and ventures into the oblivion terrain that has been branded as ‘abnormal’. Therefore, ‘theoretical intervention’ on resistance must be applauded.

Reviewed by: Dhananjay Rai
G.N. Devy

This edited volume of essays is a critical enquiry into the polyphonic cultures and literatures of indigenous people across the world and is a companion volume to Indigeneity: Culture and Representation (2009). These two collections of select essays were compiled after the ‘Chotro’ conference that was organized in Delhi. ‘Chotro’ means a ‘place where villagers gather’…

Reviewed by: Ujithra Ponniah
Avadhesh Kumar Singh

Revisiting Literature, Criticism and Aesthet- ics in India is an ambitious and valiant attempt at doing and being several different things. It brings together sixteen of the veteran author’s essays on themes like ‘Word and Beyond: Questions of Meaning and Interpretation’, ‘Theory of Creative Process in Narratives about the Ramayana and the Mahabharata’…

Reviewed by: Shonaleeka Kaul