By Patrick Olivelle

Many in India and worldwide make the language itself an object of study. Linguists study its grammar and syntax within the context of historical linguistics. Indeed, linguistics as a discipline owes its origin to the European discovery of Sanskrit in the 18th century and its family relationship to most European languages. Some study it for its beauty, its aesthetic qualities. Sanskrit poetry and plays have been read and studied in the same way that we read the works of the English poet William Shakespeare, the French novelist Victor Hugo, or the German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Yet, for many of us who are primarily historians, Sanskrit opens the door to messages from the distant past in the form of texts and inscriptions

By Patrick Olivelle

Ashoka has not been spared either of these, this intervention, at once scholarly and empathetic, is timely. Also, as the first volume in a series titled Indian Lives, it raises expectations, which are more than met.
Expectedly, there is much that the reader will find familiar.

Reviewed by: Kumkum Roy
Edited by G.N. Devy, Tony Joseph, Ravi Korisettar

History as a modern discipline has its highly developed protocols. Specialists spend years learning the craft of the historian—an extremely sophisticated craft practiced in easily recognizable ways all over the world. We have been witnessing attempts to undermine the discipline with assertions that disregard its protocols.

Reviewed by: Amar Farooqui
By Firas Alkhateeb

This book is an attempt to give an overview of the history of Muslim civilization from its inception to the present times. It is based on the author’s notes prepared for teaching his students at the high school level in the US. Starting with the time of Prophet Muhammad when monotheism challenged the existing belief system of the Arabs, he talks of the rise of Islam from the Arabian Peninsula.

Reviewed by: Mirza Asmer Beg
By David Hardiman

The book starts with a brief introduction outlining the theme in seven well-structured chapters. The first chapter apart from analysing the origins of pan-Islamic sentiments in India traces the circumstances under which the Khilafat movement emerged;

Reviewed by: Jawaid Alam
By Pramod Kapoor

the Muslim League, and the Communists. The British panicked because the mutiny sparked revolts in other branches of the armed forces. As news of the uprising became known, there were widespread agitations in different parts of the country although the worst affected was Mumbai itself

Reviewed by: Air Marshal Anil Khosla
By Sujan Chinoy

The so-called ‘New World Order’ is taking a ‘New Shape’ and Asia is emerging the centre of attention in 21st century. This book is unique in that it covers the subject in detail and is thematically organized into four parts.

Reviewed by: Abidullah Baba
Edited by Rajan Kumar, Meena Keswani Mehra, G. Venkat Raman and Meenakshi Sundriyal

Amidst the global economic slowdown and rising wealth disparities among nations, calamities like the pandemic re-underlined the tenets of multilateralism. The BRICS as a multilateral powerhouse is in the making and has been through some tough transitions.

Reviewed by: Aravind Balaji Yelery
Selected and Introduced by Devika Sethi

The Supreme Court of India put the sedition law on hold, suspending pending criminal trials under the section, and asked the Union to reconsider the British era law, which was a paranoid response to the 1857 rebellion,

Reviewed by: Aman Nawaz
By Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar

Maya, Modi, Azad is focused on Dalit politics in Uttar Pradesh (UP), critically examining the decline of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after its dramatic loss of power in the 2012 Assembly elections.

Reviewed by: Gyanesh Kudaisiya
By Prabir Purkayastha

Purkayastha’s view is singular, having first been jailed during the 1975 Emergency and then again in October 2023 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act when he and his NewsClick colleague Amit Chakravarty were arrested. Alongside the arrests, the residences of several journalists and people associated with NewsClick were also raided.
Purkayastha and Chakravarty continue in jail.

Reviewed by: Urvashi Sarkar
By Surinder S. Jodhka

Indian villages represent a vast terrain, which is full of diversity in its natural settings, social structure, cultural life, economic conditions, and many other aspects of life.

Reviewed by: Kamal Nayan Choubey
Edited by Prakash Kashwan

Climate Justice in India edited by Prakash Kashwan presents a thought-provoking collection of insights that diverges from traditional discussions on climate issues.

Reviewed by: Mohammad Imtiyaz
By Manjima Bhattacharjya

Intimate City by Manjima Bhattacharjya is a fascinating exploration of the new and discreet forms of sexual labour in the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). The book traces the changing ‘sex work geographies’ in the metropolis by exploring the intersection of gender, sexuality, space, and the internet (p. 4).

Reviewed by: Geeta Thatra
Edited by Somdatta Mandal and Koushik Mondal

In the post-Satyajit phase of Indian cinema, Rituparno Ghosh (1961-2013) was a force to reckon with. He enriched Indian cinema, mostly through the Bengali, having won umpteen national and international awards, mesmerizing the urban audience through some of his celebrated works.

Reviewed by: Amitabha Bhattacharya
By K. Saradamoni

A diary entry dated 10 September 1968, included in the appendix to K Saradamoni’s memoir published posthumously this year, shows this academic activist reflecting sadly upon the failure of econometrics,

Reviewed by: Rohini Mokashi-Punekar
By Reba Som

To hop, skip and jump from Brazil to New York, to Rome, with several resting points in between, seems like a merry indulgence in a dream landscape. At first glance, Reba Som’s book may appear as a delightful reticule of travel tales spilling over with wondrous experiences under the benevolent eye of Hermes

Reviewed by: Malashri Lal
By Bibek Debroy

Pingala’s happiness is fulfilling. Does it matter that the Sanskrit word used is asha which literally translates as hope, but the mind finds the meaning to lie beyond hope or the more pedantic ‘expectation’? This reiterates another of Debroy’s contention that the Gitas

Reviewed by: Sudhamahi Regunathan
By Malashri Lal

The word ‘debut’ is likely to hold different meanings for different people. In general, a certain sense of tentativeness characterizes the word, a certain apprehension about how it articulates one’s vision of the world and how this is received. When, however, a debut collection of poems comes from a well-known academic, committed feminist, and seasoned reader of poetry like Malashri Lal, the idea of ‘debut’ is bound to introduce and generate new connotations.

Reviewed by: Basudhara Roy
By Paul Lynch

All prophets tell similar stories. This story always rests on the world ending in fire and brimstone, darkness falling like a shroud over unfortunate people, and a seeming end to wickedness.

Reviewed by: Vasundhara Sirnate

Renowned for her candidness, indomitable spirit, keen discernment, and an awesome capacity to call a spade a spade, Ismat Chughtai is perhaps one of the best-known twentieth century feminist Urdu writers. She draws the attention of readers and critics alike,

By Shrikant Verma. Translated from the original Hindi by Rahul Soni

In the late 80s, everyone was reading Magadh, first published in Hindi in 1984. We little realized it was the last collection of Shrikant Verma, one of the most brilliant Hindi poets. Barely two years later Shrikant passed away at the age of 54.

Reviewed by: Mrinal Pande
By Vanna Nilavan. Translated from the original Tamil by G. Geetha

The ancient Tamil poetry of the Sangam Era is a significant contribution of the Tamils to world literature. More or less two millennia later, the contributions of the Tamil novelists and short story writers to these youngest literary genres are equally remarkable.

Reviewed by: S Thillainayagam
By V.J. James. Translated from the original Malayalam by Ministhy S.

Dattapaharam is a coming of age novel, a search for the self of five young college students who confront themselves and their inner demons.

Reviewed by: Mahalakshmi Jayaram
All three by Andaleeb Wajid

Andaleeb Wajid, a young Bangalore-based, hijab-wearing young woman, who has written over 40 novels in genres ranging from young adult and romance to horror, often raises eyebrows because her overtly Muslim identity is seen to be in contradiction with her choice of the genre derisively termed as ‘chick lit’. Is a hijab-clad Muslim woman reading and writing romances an anomaly? Actually, not!

Reviewed by: Nishat Zaidi
By Yendluri Sudhakar. Translated from the original Telugu by K. Purushotham

The initiative of the Hyderabad Book Trust in publishing alternative literature in translation is commendable. By publishing K Purushotham’s translation of Yendluri Sudhakar’s Speaking Sandals: Narratives from the Madigawadas of Ongole, it has ensured the text pan-Indian visibility.

Reviewed by: Catherine Thankamma
Selected & edited by Manohar Shetty

It is only now that the State has earned the description of a land of sand, sea and fun, an outcome of Goa being promoted as a tourist destination.

Reviewed by: Prava Rai