Into 2021 and Beyond the Pandemic? On behalf of the Editorial Board of The Book Review and the Trustees of The Book Review Literary Trust, we wish all our readers a very happy 2021. We bring the first issue of Year XLV of the journal, in print and in digital editions, with a hope that…


Reviewed by:
Venkatesh Parthasarathy

The Tirumala temple and its deity Lord Venkateshwara are no strangers to the use of superlatives. The temple is often described as the richest in India, if not the whole world; the deity as being the most beloved; so it is not surprising that a book devoted…


Reviewed by: TCA Anant

The genesis of this essay lies in two memorial lectures that I gave in 2019 in Delhi. The first was the Nemichand Memorial lecture on ‘The Presence of the other: Religion and Society in Early India’, given on 16 August 2019. The second was the V M Tarkunde  Memorial lecture on ‘Renunciation, Dissent and Satyagraha’, given on 6 December 2019..


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How does one find the language to write about…


Reviewed by:
Sudhanva Deshpande

Street theatre or nukkad-natak has a staccato rhythm. Those who have been part of it will know. There is no rule or convention within which it finds safety. It is both ephemeral and risky. Actors, audiences, the venue, the script, everything is provisional…


Reviewed by: Sadanand Menon
Anand Teltumbde. Foreword by Tanika Sarkar

Sometimes, a meticulously worked-out political calculation can go awry. The beautiful mind of Kanshi Ram had, in 1981, computed the DS-4 (Dalit Shosit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti) formula, comprising Dalits and other oppressed groups like Shudras, Muslims, and women…


Reviewed by: Nalini Rajan
Irfan Habib and Tarapada Mukherjee

This book unlocks the mesmerizing mojo of medieval Braj region. Masterfully written by Irfan Habib and Tarapada Mukerjee, it is an exemplary work of intense research. The primary source materials for this work are the Vrindavan Documents––a treasure trove of information…


Reviewed by: Farhat Nasreen

The economic debate in India nowadays is about the post-Covid recovery…


Reviewed by:
Rajen Harshé

It is in the realm of public imagination that one can hope to find deep-seated beliefs and behavioural patterns of societies and cultures. Edgar Rice Burrough’s eponymous character, Tarzan of the Apes, for instance becomes in the hands of one of the most distinguished American literary-cultural critics of the 20th century…


Reviewed by: Sachidananda Mohanty
Nisha P R

A spectator’s reach from the gallery of a circus tent into its colourful and complex world of amusement and action is simply thin and tiny like an ant’s eye view. Given the most common experience of the viewer to connect with the excitement of circus remains within a narrow line of sight…


Reviewed by: Ratheesh Kumar
Fatima Bhutto

In 2019, the Aleph Book Company brought out an imprint of Fatima Bhutto’s freshly penned book New Kings of the World: The Rise and Rise of Eastern Pop Culture. They decided to wrap the hardcover meant for Indian audiences in a shocking bubblegum pink. And placed a smirking Shah Rukh Khan top centre…


Reviewed by: Paresh Kumar
Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghv
LOSS
2020

Loss is a set of essays and the first work of non-fiction and memoirs written by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi. The book engages with the universal and rhetorical question of death and grief, based on a string of the author’s personal losses—the death of his father, mother and his dog…


Reviewed by: Jennifer Monteiro
Zadie Smith

The Covid-19 pandemic appears not just as a background in Zadie Smith’s collection of essays titled Intimations. Rather, it infects and pervades every subject matter that the author addresses. The book begins with a seemingly unpremeditated and light-hearted observation on tulips and the author’s fondness for peonies instead…


Reviewed by: Sakshi Dogra
Amitav Ghosh, Ruskin Bond, Amitava Kumar, Mahasweta Devi, Atul Gawande, Munshi Premchand, Khushwant Singh, George Orwell, David Davidar, Kolakaluri Enoch

Ways of Dying: Stories & Essays is the sixth publication  in the Aleph Olio series. Much like other works in the series such as Love and Lust, Notes from Hinterland, In a Violent Land, Ways of Dying is an ‘olio’ or miscellany of remarkable works of fiction and non-fiction, all of which harp on the sure companion of life: death…


Reviewed by: Ann Susan Aleyas
Bhaswati Ghosh

Victory Colony, 1950 is the story of Amala and Manas, whose lives intersect in a post-Partition relief camp, unfolding multiple other refugee stories with them as the novel progresses. Bhaswati Ghosh’s novel begins with the tragic event of forced migration of people from East Pakistan, across the borders of India…


Reviewed by: Suman Bhagchandani
Annie Zaidi

The memoir is a winner of Nine Dots Prize that is given for ‘innovative thinking as a means of tackling pressing problems facing the modern world’. The entrants were supposed to respond to the question, ‘Is there still no place like home?’ in a 3000-word essay…


Reviewed by: Shyista Aamir Khan
Shanta Gokhale

There is a certain caricature of Mumbai that is constantly evoked in popular representations—‘the city of dreams’ that came up from the sea, doting on the city’s unique heritage that remains severed from a history of its origin, where a rich sensation of the present prevails over…


Reviewed by: Aishwarya Kumar
Angshu Dasgupta

Angshu Dasgupta’s Fern Road is far removed from the leafy promise of its title. It’s a tender tough novel which records the growing up years of Orko, a sensitive child, who has an extraordinary sense of empathy. Listening to the story of the Titanic, he finds himself plunging headlong into the ocean in his imagination…


Reviewed by: Sumitra Kannan
M. A. Susila

Thadangal is the second novel by MA Susila who has published several collections of short  stories and critical essays. In addition, she is an acclaimed translator. Her Tamil renderings of the legendary Fyodor Dostoevsky earned her many prestigious awards. She was a former Professor of Tamil and a committed activist for women’s issues in Madurai…


Reviewed by: Lakshmi Kannan
Leesa Gazi. Translated from the original Bengali by Shabnam Nadiya

Leesa Gazi’s Hellfire originally came out in 2010 as Rourob, marking her debut as a bold voice in the tradition of women’s writing from the subcontinent. Hellfire engages with certain tropes that remain relevant and persistent contexts in conversations about gender and the complex legacies of patriarchy…


Reviewed by: M Tianla
Arupa Patangia Kalita. Translated from the original 'Assamese' by Ranjita Biswas

Throughout the arts, the human state of loneliness has been a theme that has been explored, analysed and taken refuge in, recurring throughout cinema, fiction and art. In Arupa Patangia Kalita’s collection of fifteen short stories, which is the English translation of her 2014 Sahitya Akademi winning…


Reviewed by: Anidrita Saikia
Bitan Chakraborty. Translated from the original Bengali by Utpal Chakraborty

‘Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.’—Hannah ArendtPerhaps the greatest achievement of Bitan Chakaborty’s collection of short stories The Mark (Chinha–in Bengali) is that it reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it…


Reviewed by: Malati Mukherjee
Syed Muhammad. Translated from the original Urdu by M Asaduddin & Musharraf Ali Farooqui

Syed Muhammad Ashraf’s The Silence of the Hyena, is a collection of stories and a novella that offers observations and commentary on the variegated lives and emotions of animals and humans which are often difficult to differentiate. The stories present a complex scenario populated by figures…


Reviewed by: Zahra Rizvi
Kiriti Sengupta

‘Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand.’-  Ezra PoundAs I began reading this anthology of poetry and prose, these lines by Ezra Pound seemed to reverberate across the entire volume of writings. In a new phase of world that we are living iere always exists a binary relationship between light and darkness—one remains incomplete if the other is not around…


Reviewed by: Semeen Ali
Rajinder Arora

In a day and age where a lot is published about pushing the limits of physical endurance and creating new records, Kailash: Jewel of the Snows  by Rajinder Arora, mountaineer and creative entrepreneur, is a wonderful narrative that focuses on the wonder and beauty of nature in Mt. Kailash…


Reviewed by: Rajat Sen
Supriya Sehgal. Illustration and design by Sharanya Kunnath

Being homebound during lockdown, I looked forward to reading about travel and adventure. It would help get me out of the four walls of home and out into the beautiful, exciting world beyond. Therefore, I opened the book, Let’s Go Adventuring excitedly and am happy to say that it did not disappoint me…


Reviewed by: Supriya Sehgal. Illustration and design by Sharanya Kunnath