By Gulzar. Illustrations by Allen Shaw

The thing about nonsense verse is that while it seems like it has no meaning, the play of words is actually very meaningful. Gulzar’s Aapa ki Aapdi, accompanied by such wonderful art by Allen Shaw, is just that. The word ‘aapdi’ itself, probably a neologism, contains within its playful syllables the nature of being an Aapa—an older sister, perhaps bossy, perhaps a know-it-all.

Reviewed by: Samina Mishra

Words have the unique ability to transcend time, space and geographies—with the written word especially; this was evident at a recent exhibition held at the India International Centre, New Delhi, titled ‘Evam Vadati Pustakam:So Says the Book’ to showcase select manuscripts from South Asia covering a rich and varied field.

By Nilanjana Roy

In this grim tale of the murder of a child, peahens and peacocks burst forth unexpectedly from the scrub and sail up into trees in the farmlands around Delhi not to add colour and variety, but because that is exactly what they do, heedless of the high voltage tensions in human dramas. There isn’t one extra unnecessary word in this novel, no self-indulgent lyricism to showcase the eloquence of the writer. The magnificent river flows through the words, however, making it lush ‘with watery dreams and silted nightmares.

Reviewed by: Bharati Jagannathan
By Pronoti Datta

Dictionaries define half-blood in various ways: to denote degrees of separation in consanguineous relationships, as well as to describe social hierarchies pertaining to the pejorative epithet used for someone who is marginalized for not being racially ‘pure’.

Reviewed by: Anjana Neira Dev
By Janice Pariat

Everything the Light Touches is a quiet book. Very quiet. It has time-travelled from another world into the twenty-first century, where fiction often tries to match the breathless pace of action cinema in order to stay in the ring, as it were. Quiet is not the same as slow, though the narrative is not fast-paced. Quiet is restful, quiet is calm, and there is something deeply assured and assuring about the place of things that the light touches

Reviewed by: Bharati Jagannathan
By Stephen Alter

While the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall moved some of the stereotypical goalposts and challengedbinarieswhich were intrinsic to the genre, the spy continued to be what has been called ‘one of our favourite mythical heroes’ in an increasingly complex and conflicted world.

Reviewed by: Ranjana Kaul
By Udayan Mukherjee

Udayan Mukherjee’s successive works of fiction have a wider and wider canvas. His first novel, Dark Circles (2018) had a focus on a dysfunctional family: the mother goes away to live in an ashram, leaving behind her two sons, a twelve-year-old and a six-year-old. Mukherjee’s second novel, A Death in the Himalayas (2019), is a well-plotted murder mystery

Reviewed by: Shyamala A Narayan
By Mrinal Pande

Journalism is an ever-evolving chaos because its umbilical cord is attached to the socio-cultural-political movements of a society that needn’t necessarily have any design, formulae or pattern. It is an institution of discourses that are formed on shared beliefs, anomalies, conflicts, power dynamics and confluences. In India, the global and local practices of journalism merge to create a unique communication system that underlines her contemporary socio-cultural-political spectrum.

Reviewed by: Aditi Maheshwari-Goyal

It is not every day that one comes across a revolutionary’s biography. Even though Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, Joe Slovo, Ahmed Kathrada and Walter Sisulu, all have a memoir to their name, the majority of revolutionaries are, nevertheless, reticent when it comes to sharing their experiences and anecdotes of their adventurous life.

By G.N. Devy

Devy covers an extensive expanse from genetics (David Reich’s Who We are and How We Got Here) to linguistics (David Anthony’s The Horse, The Wheel, and Language, Maheswar Neog’s Essays on Assamese Literatures) to literary theory. For him, Indo-Iranians entered the subcontinent with the horse-and-chariot and mingled with Out-of-Africa southerners producing the Mahabharata culture, shifting from pastoral to agrarian, urban and feudal society.

Reviewed by: Pradip Bhattacharya
Edited by Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Tridip Suhrud

Gandhi is possibly the greatest Indian to have lived since the Buddha. His greatness, however, lies not in his invulnerability—but rather, in his struggle to overcome his many frailties. Gandhi’s story is an alluring, yet rare, tale of the triumph of human will over seemingly insurmountable odds. One is reminded of Albert Einstein’s famous phrase describing Gandhi, ‘Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.’

Reviewed by: Syed Areesh Ahmad
By Mohammad Nasir and Samreen Ahmed

Syed Mahmood could have become a public figure as eminent as his father Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the educationist and social reformer who founded the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental (MAO) College (later the Aligarh Muslim University).

Reviewed by: Abhik Majumdar
By Moushumi Kandali

It is this project of othering of the Assamese that is the central theme in Moushumi Kandali’s Black Magic Women. A collection of ten fiercely feminist short stories translated from Assamese, the tales are tied together with the threads of marginalization, vulnerability and racism. The book blurb announces that Kandali situates most of her characters out of Assam and in the mainstream, exploring their struggles of assimilation.

Reviewed by: Anidrita Saikia
By Damodar Mauzo. Translated from the original Konkani by Xavier Cota

Prejudice promulgates differences, and stereotypes contribute to defining individual identities in a society that caters to judgments and bias. Damodar Mauzo’s The Wait and Other Stories set in the heart of Goa deals with the conundrums of reality in a chaotic human world using subtle humour and nuanced narratives.

Reviewed by: Isha Sharma
By B.M. Zuhara

It is interesting to note the conflicting perspectives of the egalitarian ideals of Communist Indian supporters with the likes of the feudal class stakeholders like Umma and other privileged ones.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Monteiro
By Harimohan Jha. Translated from the original Maithili by Lalit Kumar

The story revolves around the ordeal of Lal Kaka’s family to find a suitable match for their daughter Buchia, and the anglicized bridegroom CC Mishra’s unrealistic expectations of finding a modern companion wife. The racy climax sequence dramatizes a farcical and ill-matched marriage with disastrous consequences.

Reviewed by: Shikha Vats
By B.M. Zuhara. Translated from the original Malayalam by Fehmida Zakeer

Tears of the Begums is the first-ever English translation by Rana Safvi of Begumat ke Aansoo, originally written in Urdu by Khwaja Hasan Nizami, a follower of the Sufi order Chishti-Nizamiya and a descendant of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Monteiro
By Harimohan Jha. Translated from the original Maithili by Lalit Kumar

Keertigan the novel asks several difficult vertiginous questions—what makes an entire group of people spontaneously come together to murder someone? It asks questions of journalism—what does it mean to report on such heinous crimes, which voices get represented and which inevitably get lost or left behind.

Reviewed by: Shikha Vats
By Ashok Pande

Lappujhanna doesn’t actually shy away from juxtaposing the past with the ongoing larger political stirring, even though this happens from an early teen’s perspective. Readers will definitely find themselves searching for their own childhood while meandering through the writer’s recollections of his own in the small town Ramnagar—also known for Jim Corbett National Parkin Uttarakhand

Reviewed by: Moggallan Bharti
By Sheila Rohekar

‘Stories are not just mere entertainment; the essence of stories is integral to our existence. If they were to vanish from our lives, we would transform into lifeless puppets, devoid of guidance on our roles and purpose.’ In PalliPaar, Rohekar weaves a complex web of narratives from various perspectives, each laden with themes of male chauvinism, violence, death, and jealousy.

Reviewed by: Priya Kulshrestha
By Vyas Mishra

The rise of the neo-colonial matrix of power along with a regressive turn towards cultural nationalism also unfold as significant themes of the narrative.

Reviewed by: Bharti Arora
By Neelesh Raghuvanshi

The unassuming bicycle, mocked and dismissed as a poor person’s vehicle, becomes a symbol of the relentless pace of life that is driven by sheer will but punctuated by the vicissitudes of life. It is ironic that this vehicle is later co-opted by capitalism. It undergoes quite a journey from being the target of derision and a fossil from a bygone era to a fashionable symbol of fitness, though now woefully out of the reach of the common people.

Reviewed by: Shweta Kumari
By Priyadarshan

The book under review, Bharat Ki Ghadi: Badalte Bharat Ka Lekha Jokha is a collection of articles written by renowned journalist Priyadarshan. Apart from one lucid introduction, the book consists of forty-two articles, written by the author at different points in time in the last few years (though the author has not mentioned the exact time period covered through these articles).

Reviewed by: Kamal Nayan Choubey
By Akhilesh

Aks by Akhilesh is a welcome addition to the vivid tradition of memoirs in Hindi literature, which boasts of works like Ghalib Chuti Sharab by Ravindra Kalia, Yaad Ho Ki Na Yaad Ho by Kashinath Singh, and Smriti-lekha by Agyeya. It is presented to the readers as an account of time, society, and literati. The memoir spreads over eleven chapters, and while remembrance is the thread that binds them together, it is the author’s take on the function and nature of memory in the chapters that truly reverberates throughout the book. He situates his memories against the contemporary paradigms of fast-paced urban lives, social media, and power politics, which, according to him, obstruct networks of memory creation by encouraging narcissism and self-focus.

Reviewed by: Mohd Aqib
By Ushakiran Khan

e autobiographies produced in the Indian literary tradition are of different kinds and do not follow the strict definition provided by the West. Mahatma Gandhi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth or Rassundari Devi’s Amar Jiban are not only written in different styles but also experimented with different aspects of a person’s life. Similarly, Ushakiran Khan’s life journey does not technically fall into the clear category of autobiography.

Reviewed by: Vasundhara Gautam
By Anil Yadav

Yadav’s Keedajadi takes you for a casual stroll in the Abode of Gods (Devbhoomi) meanwhile befriending the people inhabiting the land and creates a gripping narrative around the Himalayan aphrodisiac ‘keedajadi’.

Reviewed by: Alka Lakhera
By Anuradha Beniwal

Anuradha Beniwal describes her trip to Latvia, a place that is remarkably under-explored, in the first chapter of the book. This is probably a unique choice for a travel writer. She is able to see and record aspects of daily life that are off-limits to tourists by living with a local family.

Reviewed by: Nehal Ahmed
By Sharankumar Limbale. Translated from the original Marathi to Hindi by Sunita Daga

Never short of cultural-mythical euphemisms, invocations of cultural analogies in Indian politics come almost instinctually to the nativists seeking to draw an indigenous parallel to the mode of modern political governance. It serves as veritable testimony of the profound cultural complex with western political ideologies among the political conservatives, but it also reflects their deep anxiety and political will to negotiate with western political ideologies in autochthonous cultural terms.

Reviewed by: Rabi Prakash
By K. Satchidanandan. Poems selected and translated from the English translation (original Malayalam) into Hindi by Anamika

Anamika doesn’t like the liberties Tagore took with his own translations, but she doesn’t also mention if Satchidanandan took any. [ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type="block" ihc_mb_who="unreg" ihc_mb_template="1" ]
Yet Jhumpa Lahiri found much to correct and improve in the original when she was translating her novel from Italian into English (as Whereabouts

Reviewed by: Rajesh Sharma
By Manoranjan Byapari. Translated from the original Bengali into Hindi by Amrita Bera

With enough on this abundant earth to feed everyone for many lifetimes and when one is well fed, it is easy to forget that hunger drives the world even today. The novel opens with a chapter titled ‘Bhat’(cooked rice) in which Garib Das, father of the titular bhaga hua ladka, the runaway boy who will be born later that night, walks a long distance, hungry and weary, to ask the local well-to-do Brahmin Shivnath Bhattacharya for some rice.

Reviewed by: Kopal
By Ranjan Bandyopadhyay. Translated from the original Bengali into Hindi by Shubhra Upadhyay

On April 19, 1884, at the age of 25, Kadambari Devi consumed a heavy dose of opium to end her life. After ingesting the drug, Kadambari fought for her life for two days before she passed away on April 21, 1884. This incident took place four months after the marriage of twenty-three year old Rabindranath in the illustrious Thakur house of Bengal.

Reviewed by: Anita Singh
By Girish Karnad.Translated from the original Marathi into English by Srinath Perur. Translated from English into Hindi by Madhu B Joshi

I remember Girish Karnad as a character in the film Swami and that made a lasting impression on a college-going boy. The calmness and poise displayed by Karnad gave me an idea about the kind of persona he was. After Swami, I continued waiting for the movies he acted in.

Reviewed by: Naval Chandra Pant
By Mandira Shah

As someone who grew up devouring adventure and mystery stories with passionate interest, I began reading this one expecting a similar roller-coaster ride that ended with the catharsis of a happy ending, suitably punctuated with nail-biting tension and thrills.

Reviewed by: Anjana Neira Dev
By Vishwas KS, VR Ferose, Sriram Jagannathan

A genre that is neither new to children nor young adults, visual narrative be it in comic books or full length illustrated novels feeds on generations that have grown on Amar Chitra Kathas whose reach is evident in the vast number of languages it is published in. Even in its full-length avatar with a focused lens on themes beyond the voracious need for mythology, graphic novels no longer qualify as nascent and upcoming as mainstream publishers ensure that supply meets the readers’ growing demand.

Reviewed by: Gitanjali Chawla
By Ilina Singh. Foreword by Eric Falt

The book is replete with wonderful anecdotes like the one of meteorologist Anna Mani from Peermade, Kerala, who at the age of eight, declined the gift of diamond earrings and requested a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica instead!

Reviewed by: Manu Mehrotra & Ambika Mohan
By Saroj Mukherjee.Translated from the original Hindi by Tilottama Tharoor. Illustrations by Trisha Dasgupta and Sreemoyee Ray

Rivers are an integral part of our lives. Their importance is immeasurable. No wonder our ancestors worshipped them. Moreover, rivers are intriguing. They may gush madly or flow sleepily as they meander down their course. Sometimes they are in spate, and at other times they dry up.

Reviewed by: Indira Ananthakrishnan
By Vikas Prakash Joshi. Illustrated by Niloufer Wadia

Roshan (Cinnamon) is a student at Diamond International School, Pune. He is the school’s U-13 goal-keeper, and we meet him pulling off heroics against their arch-rivals. We learn that he is adopted and lives with his adopted parents and has one burning desire—to meet his birth parents. The book follows Cinnamon’s life through school and him meeting his birth mother

Reviewed by: Vishesh Unni Raghunathan
By Raj Shekhar.Illustrated by Venkat Shyam.Designed by Nina Sabnani

Gond art and a folk song sourced from a tribe in Telangana come together in a delightful picture book for children, Hum Jungle ke Jagar Magar. The three people who got together to make this book: Raj Shekhar, Venkat Shyam, and Nina Sabnani have rich experience and credentials for this kind of work. Raj Shekhar is a well-established poet and has been awarded Kavya Samman by the Hindi Academy.

Reviewed by: Neera Jain
Written and illustrated by Lavanya Karthik

The story of little Bachni is true manifestation of how little girls like her grow up to become women like Bachendri Pal, who not only dare to dream but also climb mountains, and in her case, quite literally.
Written and illustrated by Lavanya Karthik, The Girl who Climbed Mountains: Bachendri Pal, a short biography

Reviewed by: Annie Pruthi
Story by Tanya Majumdar. Illustrations by Rajiv Eipe

Tanya Majmudar’s The Monster who could not Climb a Tree is a delightful story that offers an insight into a child’s world and their relationship with nature. The story is accompanied by beautiful illustrations and is suitable for children aged 7 and above.

Reviewed by: Nidhi Gaur
Written by Natasha Sharma. Illustrations by Nirzara Verulkar

when concepts are hardest to convey, but sink in the deepest. So, if you were faced by the challenge of explaining empathy to a five-year-old, how would you try to do it? Natasha Sharma seems to be trying to do that. Molly, ‘a mix between a cocker spaniel and something else’ explains to us how important it is for a dog to smell everything.

Reviewed by: Anju Virmani
Story & translation by Achintyarup Ray.Translated from the original Bengali. Illustrations by Shivam Choudhary

Jhupli belongs to the Sunderbans, and her father goes out into the forests every other day to collect honey from the forests. It is his occupation, necessary to feed his family and send his children to school, even Jhupli, a girl child. As depicted in a two-page illustration, when home, he breaks off a tiny bit from a honeycomb he had brought and gives it to Jhupli. For my father, who would have been 100 next year, it used to be roadside masala-muri, damp by his delay.

Reviewed by: Dipavali Sen