The current issue has thrown up some amazing insights into the pulsating creativity in the Indian languages. Among the books reviewed, the works of some of the greats in Indian literature like UR Ananthamurthy, Imayam and CN Annadurai are interspersed with debut novelists, short story writers and poets. Volumes of short stories, poems, novels and plays are reviewed in these pages, and the canvas is truly a wide one.

Imayam(Translated from the original Tamil by Prabha Sridevan)

The first story ‘Over in a Moment’ offers a peek into the lives of a middle-aged couple. The wife, Kamatchi, feels her life has ‘everything but salt’ as she has an unsatisfactory sex life.

Reviewed by: A Aazhi Arasi
Imayam(Translated from the original Tamil by Vasantha Surya)

The anthology has a larger pedagogic purpose and is part of the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation’s initiative to identify and translate Tamil literary works into English to ‘enhance the reach of Tamil antiquity, tradition and contemporaneity and enrich world literature’.

Reviewed by: Disha Pokhriyal
Vaasanthi(Translated from the original Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman )

The novel’s frame story unfolds as a personal investigation: did the narrator’s mother commit suicide by jumping into a lake in Kodaikanal as the police inquiry had concluded, or was she killed? If so, by whom and why? The main story is complex and compressed.

Reviewed by: Geeta Ganapathy-Doré
Ponneelan. Translated from the original Tamil by J. Priyadarshini

The narrative of Black Soil builds on the idea of the recognizability of lives and establishes its referentiality to the social and political atrocities of young, Independent India.

Reviewed by: Shilpa Nataraj
C. N. Annadurai(Translated from the original Tamil by Ramakrishnan V.)

C N Annadurai (1909-1969), popularly known as ‘Anna’ (elder brother), is one of Tamil Nadu’s greatest icons. His charisma and ideology resonate in Tamil politics even today.

Reviewed by: Ranjitha Ashok
Indira Parthasarathy(Translated from the original Tamil by T. Sriraman)

In the Author’s Preface, Parthasarathy presents his play as exploring the ‘theme of mutually contradictory dispositions of the various characters’ going beyond ‘a mere narration of historical events’.

Reviewed by: Mohammad Asim Siddiqui
Translated from the original Tamil by K. S. Subramanian

The first piece in the present collection of articles on Chennai was written in 1998 and the compilation in Tamil, Oru Parvaiyil Chennai Nagaram  (‘Chennai at a Glance’) took shape gradually over the years. 

Reviewed by: Govindan Nair
Sheela Tomy(Translated from the original Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil)

The novel’s supreme virtue is in its thesis that devolution alone will bring about a turnaround for the evils inflicted on any land and its inhabitants. Also noteworthy in the novel is the role of Father Felix Mullakkattil, the officiating priest of the whitewashed Church of the Virgin Mother at Kalluvayal.

Reviewed by: Annie Kuriachan
Benyamin(Translated from the original Malayalam by Mohammed Hanifv)

Benyamin weaves a poignant narrative about a taxi driver contemplating robbery, only to be confronted by a passenger’s gripping tale about his own father’s honourable choices as a taxi driver.

Reviewed by: Steven S. George
Manasi(Translated from the original Malayalam by J. Devika)

Consider this description of a woman’s mental state, as she contemplates her reluctance to lie on a bed that she had slept on alongside a man, in the past. It seemed to her ‘like a thin film of dust that collects on the surface of a table…

Reviewed by: V Geetha
R. Rajasree(Translated from the original Malayalam by Devika J.)

The novel’s bedrock is formed by the resilient and formidable friendship between its titular characters; indeed, the bite and brio of this relationship shape and colour every other bond, filial or otherwise, making it one of the great renditions of women’s solidarity in Malayalam literary tradition.

Reviewed by: Anupama Mohan
Gurram Jashuva(Translated from the original Telugu by Chinnaiah Jangam)

Chinnaiah Jangam’s translation of Telugu Dalit poet Gurram Jashuva’s Gabbilam, a re-writing in itself of Kalidasa’s Meghadutam, is a significant contribution to Dalit discourse in India and to the literatures of the marginalized in any part of the world. 

Reviewed by: M Sridhar and Alladi Uma
Edited by N. Manu Chakravarthy and Chandan Gowda

In Ananthamurthy’s ancestral village in Karnataka, where he spent a significant part of his childhood and adolescence, the house had a front yard.

Reviewed by: Sailen Routray
Kodagina Gouramma( Translated from the original Kannada by Deepa Bhasthi)

The story is that when Gandhiji came to the estate where her husband worked as a manager in February 1934, she insisted that the Mahatma visit her house too and went on a hunger strike, finally succeeded in getting the great man into her house when she gave all her gold jewels and took a vow to wear Khadi. She was just 21 at that time.

Reviewed by: VS Sreedhara
Jayant Pawar(Translated from the original Marathi by Maya Pandit with a Foreword by Amol Palekar)

Two important Marathi texts—Adhantar: The Nowhere People (a play, 1999) by Jayant Pawar and Ringaan: The Full Circle (a novel, 2017) by Krishnat Khot are now available in English.

Reviewed by: Umesh Kumar
Laxmibai Abhyankar (Translated from the original Marathi by Ranjana Kaul)

The Stepmother & Other Stories carries a small introductory note on Laxmibai Abhyankar’s life and times. The temporal nature of the book transports the reader to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the absence of a rooted, critical introduction

Reviewed by: Nilekha Salunke
Anup Singh Beniwal

The overdose of theory served to the students of literature in the name of engendering critical rigour in research and reading has come under serious scrutiny of late.

Reviewed by: Akshaya Kumar
Aamina Ahmad

To uncover these multiple layers and disentangle the warp and weft of the story, Ahmad takes the reader on a journey that starts in 1937 in Lahore and ends there in 1976, in the process giving us a glimpse into the creation of not one but two countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh, whose birth is a violent one and coming of age is fraught with brutality and strife amidst the shifting sands of power.

Reviewed by: Anjana Neira Dev
Mitra Phukan

The stories are spicy, and the scope for scandal is much greater because of social strictures.

Reviewed by: Mukul Chaturvedi
Naveen Kishore

One wonders to what extent one can remain unaffected by things that threaten to rip apart one’s existence or life as we call it

Reviewed by: Semeen Ali
Anupama Raju

Cities are imbricated in the minds of the people in multiple ways woven through emotional experiences, subjectivities and various interactions.  It is some specific moments of encounter that impinge on one’s mind to shape the imaginaries associated with cities.

Reviewed by: Shazia Salam
Vivek Narayanan

Vivek Narayanan’s After should be a rewarding experience for scholars and sceptics alike.

Reviewed by: Shamayita Sen
Anupama Mohan

The story takes place in 1998, in the sleepy village of Sittanavasal in Tamil Nadu, where Sriveni  has led a happy and sensitive childhood with her parents and brothers, aiding her midwife grandmother, and acquiring deep knowledge about plants and herbs.

Reviewed by: Anidrita Saikia
Edited by Somudranil Sarkar and Sheenjini Ghosh

Brevity is said to be the keynote of a short story, and length admittedly impacts the range of matter dealt with in a brief narrative as well as its treatment. Nevertheless, defining a short story merely in terms of its length does not take into account the flexibility of the genre or the often-profound impression made by a narrative that, though brief, encapsulates an entire experience

Reviewed by: Ranjana Kaul
Shahidul Zahir(Translated from the original Bengali by V. Ramaswamy)

In Schrodinger’s Cat, the famous thought experiment in quantum mechanics, it is postulated that if you seal a cat in a box along with poison or something that could kill it, you won’t know whether the cat is dead or alive unless you open the box.

Reviewed by: Jonaki Ray
Goutam Das(Translated from the original Bengali by Ratna Jha)

The title story of the volume ‘Alka’draws on human bonds that turn out to be both heart-warming and heart-rending. It is about non-blood ties that become deep and intimate, while the closest mother-son blood relationship turns awry and unnatural without any provocation. The author does not moralize, he just presents the situation with poignant empathy.

Reviewed by: Jayati Gupta
Translated from the original Bengali by Niladri R. Chatterjee

Krishnagopal Mallick (1936-2003) was born and brought up in Kolkata, and the limit of his territorial domain is essentially College Square and its surrounding area in the city. In his depictions of the mundane and the ebb and flow of daily life

Reviewed by: Somdatta Mandal
Chandi Prasad Nanda, Pritish Acharya, and Shri Krishan

The genesis of the vernacular turn in Indian historical studies can be attributed to a crucial inquiry: ‘Was there history writing in India before the British colonial intervention?’ As Partha Chatterjee puts it in his Introduction to the volume History in the Vernacular

Reviewed by: S Deepika

Dimitrova declares in the Introduction of the book, she understands ‘“Indian cultural identity” in a non-essentializing sense, as a pluralistic, open-ended, and dynamic concept that is inclusive of all religious, cultural, and socio-political traditions and currents in South Asia and beyond’

Aku Srivastav

Social as well as political movements have a long and sustained history in India. In post-Independence India, the decade of the 1980s saw a wave of new social movements focused on identity, culture and lifestyle instead of just political or economic issues.

Reviewed by: Swadesh Singh
C.M. Naim

I remember my father, a doctor, having stacks of jasoosi naavil (detective novels) on his bedside table. Printed on flimsy paper, often with lurid covers, they were dog eared and clearly well read.

Reviewed by: Rakhshanda Jalil
Firdous Azmat Siddiqui

Firdous Azmat Siddiqui’s novel Zindaan, written in Urdu, brilliantly takes us through the gloomy days of 2020, when we were imprisoned in our own homes at once after the outbreak of the Corona virus. It explores human emotions and psychology in times of turmoil. The book highlights the helplessness of human beings before the might of a virus.

Reviewed by: Syed Kashif
Moin Ahsan Jazbi (Translated from the original Urdu by Sami Rafiq)

The book seeks to juxtapose individual feelings of desolation and deprivation with universalizing aesthetics in an idiom shaped by a blizzard of words.

Reviewed by: Shafey Kidwai
Mirza Ghalib. Translated from the original Persian by Maaz Bin Bilal

Masnavi is one of the three genres known to have been imported from Persian into the Urdu language, the other two being the Ghazal and the Rubayi.

Reviewed by: Baran Farooqi
Christopher Kloeble (Translated from the original German by Rekha Kamath Rajan)

Christopher Kloeble’s novel, Das Museum Welt, translated from German to English by Rekha Kamath Rajan as The Museum of the World, is an extraordinary literary piece that takes its readers through an exhilarating journey of time and space.

Reviewed by: Sheikh Sana Assad
Translated from the original Santali by Alok Bandyopadhya

The book serves as a chronicle of the lives of the Santal people in the context of their precarious existence in the current setting by bearing testimony to the different setbacks, socioeconomic and political, but most importantly, cultural transformations that have occurred over the past fifty years.

Reviewed by: Palash Biswas