Thomas Piketty. Translated from the original French by Steven Rendall

Thomas Piketty requires very little introduction. He is a Professor of Economics at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (French: École des hautes études en sciences sociales: EHESS), Associate Chair at the Paris School of Economics and Centennial Professor of Economics in the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics.

Reviewed by: TCA Ranganathan
Steven Pinker

Pinker follows his other popular writings (on language, violence, the enlightenment), with a lucid account of the importance and astonishing lack of reason in today’s world. Elegantly written, with abstruse ideas clarified (the difference between Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence, for instance), with choice quotes, anecdotes, charts, cartoons.

Reviewed by: Vijay Tankha
Rohan J. Alva

Indian legal scholarship is going through an exciting phase. Several books have emerged in the past few years which successfully combine meticulous academic research with a lucid, articulate style of presentation accessible to most laypersons. A surprisingly large proportion has been authored not by academics but practising advocates: Gautam Bhatia’s Offend, Shock, or Disturb (2016) and Abhinav Chandrachud’s Republic of Rhetoric (2017) come readily to mind.

Reviewed by: Abhik Majumdar
Sukhadeo Thorat, Ajaya Dixit, Samar Verma

To study what happens on the ground, called field experiment in policy research literature, requires developing a research style by creative policy research scholars who can redefine the role of methodological concerns that may lend itself to the disciplinary evolution of politics and policy. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, a wave of field experiments in Political Science from Yale University marked a sort of renaissance in policy research in two different ways.

Reviewed by: Tanvir Aeijaz
Nalin Mehta

The BJP’s meteoric rise to the top of Indian politics has been variously and copiously recorded by several book-length attempts at authenticity. While The Rise of the BJP: The Making of the World’s Largest Political Party (Bhupender Yadav and Illa Patnaik), How the BJP Wins: Inside the World’s Largest Election Machine (Prashant Ojha), Bharatiya Janata Party Past Present and Future: Story of the World’s Largest Political Party (Shantanu Gupta) and Jugalbandi.

Reviewed by: Roshni Sengupta
Suryakant Waghmore and Hugo Gorringe

We can extrapolate from the title of the book that civility in India is in serious jeopardy. Despite the fact that majoritarian politics and democracy in India are in place, the book discusses the challenges of ensuring civility for its population. Each chapter delves into this duality and critically assesses the obstacles and problems with democracy by looking at caste and civility in the context of several Indian States.

Reviewed by: Nikhil Walde and Vicky Nandgaye
Arun Shourie

Ram Nath Goenka was the publisher of The Indian Express. Arun Shourie was twice its editor. The two were the Dhoni and Jadeja of Indian journalism in the 1980s. It was a truly extraordinary partnership.In 1990 RNG, as he was known, passed away. I was asked to write his obituary by the paper I was working for then. It was quite an honour.

Reviewed by: TCA Srinivasa-Raghavan
Edited by K. Raju

After more than seventy years of Independence, the caste question remains one of the most intractable vices of contemporary India. Dalits’ struggles in particular have been made strategically invisible amidst the call for how the ‘dreams of our nation’ must always supersede ‘sectarian agendas’. Both are politically loaded terms.

Reviewed by: Surajkumar Thube
Mridula Ramesh

Mridula Ramesh’s compelling work traces the trajectory of India’s water over 4000 years to highlight the grave crisis India is facing today. Global warming is a tragic reality and it is being predicted that by 2030 India will fail to meet half its water demand. As the book’s blurb points out, water availability per person in India has been decreasing for decades, leaving parts of the country in a cruel ‘Day Zero’ situation, shuttering factories and pushing farmers over the brink.

Reviewed by: Mohammad Imtiyaz
Himanshu Prabha Ray

The wide prevalence of scripts, languages, architectural forms and iconography with a clear provenance from India in a wide swathe of South East Asia from quite early in the first millennium, has interested many in India almost from the beginning of modern history writing and archeological investigation in the country.

Reviewed by: TCA Raghavan
Major General Vijay Singh

There are three special things about the book under review, the last two of which are interconnected. To begin with the first: its description of a battle for Daruchhian between its well-entrenched Pakistani defenders and an Indian infantry battalion of the Grenadier Regiment. Daruchhian is a hill feature across from Poonch on the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir side of the Ceasefire Line—as the Line of Control (LC) was termed then.

Reviewed by: Ali Ahmed
Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz

The pandemic unveiled the system’s frailty, the dire need to develop a complementary long-term relationship between humans and the environment, and solutions for the crumbling system. Throughout the centuries, the debate of religion and science has been dominant in the discourse, providing a systematic and lawful way to sustain society.

Reviewed by: Azeemah Saleem
Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

The birth centenary of Satyajit Ray (1921-1992) has spawned a torrent of activities. Despite governmental indifference, there has been an outpouring of books, journals, articles, exhibitions and the like, by individuals and private institutions on arguably the most creative and composite artist of Independent India.

Reviewed by: Amitabha Bhattacharya
Vikas Kumar Jha. Translated into English from the original Hindi by Srishti Jha

The Queen of Indian Pop: The Authorized Biography of Usha Uthup is a faultless English translation by Srishti Jha of her father Vikas Kumar Jha’s original Ullas Ki Naav in Hindi. Both titles are appropriate for summarizing Usha Uthup’s journey. The book has a distinction in the sense that it has been able to address the conundrum.

Reviewed by: Nehal Ahmed
P.C. Ramakrishna

Audiobooks and dubbing films for regional audiences in India are opening up a whole new market for people whose vocal cords are their raison d’etre. PC Ramakrishna’s book Find Your Voice: A Definitive Guide for Stage Actors and Voice Professionals could not have come at a better time for voice artistes. The first of its kind in India, the book is an excellent mixture of the theory of Voice and how to cultivate and preserve it, as well as nuggets on the features of the field of Voice.

Reviewed by: Hema Ramanathan
Amritjit Singh, Robin E. Field, and Samina Najmi

Like the Draupadi and Sita that she created in her memorable novels, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni emerges in this book as a strong and questioning woman who turns received knowledge on its head. A compendium of academic essays on her works captures the genres of novel, short story and poetry while the interviews with Divakaruni along with her autobiographical note give this book an admirable range.

Reviewed by: Malashri Lal
Godfrey Joseph Pereira

After Bloodline Bandra (2014), Godfrey Joseph Pereira returns to Bombay in this provocatively titled historical fiction, to document the story of Charlie Strongbow, Cross Island and the erstwhile ‘urbs prima in Indis’, Bombay, in the 1940s and 1950s. The brick red, orange and blue cover with the silhouette of a boat, and a bird aggressively pushing through a torn page, arouses curiosity and promises a story that is full of surprises.

Reviewed by: Anjana Neira Dev
Ameya Prabhu

If one could travel as easily as the mind tours the world in a matter of seconds, where would one go? Would one go to a place from memory or a to a place one hasn’t ever ventured to even in one’s wildest dreams? Who would a traveller such as this meet and what would be the stories one would inadvertently become a part of?

Reviewed by: Zahra Rizvi
Gopinath Mohanty.

The troubling question in writing about Harijan, both the original Odia novel by the renowned Gopinath Mohanty as well as its meticulous and detailed English translation of the same name, is this: how does one write about an event in which the experiencing person is the one who has contributed directly to the degradation of a fellow human being.

Reviewed by: Himansu S Mohapatra
Utpal Dutt. Translated from the original Bengali by Ananda Lal

The history of twentieth century Indian drama has hitherto focused mostly on the work of playwrights such as Girish Karnad, Badal Sircar and Vijay Tendulkar. The enormous work of Bengali writer, actor and director, Utpal Dutt (1929-1993) has hardly received the appreciation due to it. Ananda Lal’s recent English translation of Utpal Dutt’s Barricade has shifted the spotlight to the vast oeuvre of his work as also to the absence of sustained discussion around it, especially to a non-Bengali reader/audience. 

Reviewed by: Payal Nagpal
Reema Ahmad & Semeen Ali

The English word ‘dry’ doesn’t even begin to cover what the Urdu word ‘khushk’ conveys. Khushk pricks and chafes, like the continuous rubbing of sandpaper. There is bruising, never enough for the sort of attention that makes one rush to the Emergency Room, but bad enough to remain a painful slow burn. As a metaphor for unacknowledged damage, there couldn’t be a better term.

Reviewed by: Sucharita Sengupta
Zilka Joseph

The idea of migration and the internal/external struggle that a migrant undergoes has been looked at through various lens and forms of writing. Migration can be a forced one or can be construed as a voluntary one forced by economic circumstances or for seeking a better quality of life. Either way the shift is not just in terms of geographical locations but also in the way one has come to perceive the world and one’s surroundings.

Reviewed by: Semeen Ali
Sridala Swami

The tastefully produced Run for the Shadows reaches my desk. It’s a happy sign for poetry, for our ecosystem. This is Sridala Swami’s third book of poems. A Reluctant Survivor (2007) and Escape Artist (2014) are her other creations. Run for the Shadows is a bouquet of 46/50 poems (if one counts Three False Starts and a Conclusion as one or five poems).

Reviewed by: Sanjeev Sethi
Hemali Sodhi HarperCollins

The Book of Dog is an anthology of 45 stories and is an ode to canine companionship expressed through essays, dramatized tales, poems and pictures. The book features contributions from leading voices in eclectic domains: animal welfare activists; academics; media personalities and journalists; bestselling authors, poets, filmmakers and playwrights; graphic artists, and chefs.

Reviewed by: TCA Avni