Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay [has] both fascinated and shocked readers of Bengali fiction' Indian Express
Darkly glamorous and fiercely erotic heroines take centre stage in these two novellas.
In Panty, when a mysterious young woman arrives in Calcutta and moves into a guest house, she finds in an otherwise empty wardrobe a soft and silky panty in leopard-skin print. She thinks the woman who wore it must have possessed a wild sexual nature. A feeling of companionship envelops her; the sexual lives of the two women begin to mingle and blur.
In Hypnosis, another young woman-a TV journalist on perpetual night duty-has an unconsummated but passionate affair with a famous musician that leaves her shattered. In the nightmarish sequence of events that follows, she allows herself to be hypnotized and drugged to aid her search for love.
Exposing our darkest desires and deepest fears when it comes to love, the effect of Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay's ferocious storytelling is deliciously anarchic and deeply unsettling.
A Strange Kind of Paradise
Sub title: India through Foreign Eyes
A Strange Kind of Paradise is an exploration of India’s past and present, from the perspective of a foreigner who has lived in India for many years. Sam Miller investigates how the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Chinese, Arabs, Africans, Europeans and Americans—everyone really, except for Indians themselves—came to imagine India.
His account of the engagement between foreigners and India spans the centuries from Alexander the Great to Slumdog Millionaire. It features, among many others, Thomas the Apostle, the Chinese monk Xuanzang, Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Vasco da Gama, Babur, Clive of India, several Victorian pornographers, Mark Twain, EM Forster, Allen Ginsberg, the Beatles and Steve Jobs. Interspersed between these tales is the story of Sam Miller’s own 25-year-long love affair with India.
The result is a spellbinding, 2500-year-long journey through Indian history, culture and society, in the company of an author who informs, educates and entertains in equal measure, as he travels in the footsteps of foreign chroniclers, exposes some of their fabulous fantasies and overturns long-held stereotypes about race, identity and migration.
A tour de force that is at once scholarly and thought-provoking, delightfully eccentric and laugh-out-loud funny, this book is destined to become a much-loved classic.
Vasantha retired early, bought himself a van with his savings and now works as a driver for hire in Sri Lanka. As he ferries new entrepreneurs, charity workers and families around the country, he reveals with self-deprecating wit and folksy wisdom their uncertain lives after the end of a decades-long war. On his journey from the army camps of the north to the moonlit beaches of the south coast, he begins to wonder if the past can be left behind— especially his own, and his country’s—and what the future might hold for a lovelorn soldier out on the ramparts, a fast-moving hotelier in a bombed out town, an eager Jaffna student of Italian, or a desperate librarian of empty shelves? Perceptive, somber, finely tuned, Noontide Toll draws an extraordinary portrait of post-war Sri Lanka grappling with the ghosts of its troubled past.
A Great Clamour
Sub title: Encounters with China and Its Neighbours
One Part Woman
All of Kali and Ponna’s efforts to conceive a child—from prayers to penance, potions to pilgrimages—have been in vain. Despite being in a loving and sexually satisfying relationship, they are relentlessly hounded by the taunts and insinuations of the people around them. Ultimately, all their hopes and apprehensions come to converge on the chariot festival in the temple of the half-female god Ardhanareeswara and the revelry surrounding it. Everything hinges on the one night when rules are relaxed and consensual union between any man and woman is sanctioned. This night could end the couple’s suffering and humiliation. But it will also put their marriage to the ultimate test. Acutely observed, One Part Woman lays bare with unsparing clarity a relationship caught between the dictates of social convention and the tug of personal anxieties, vividly conjuring an intimate and unsettling portrait of marriage, love and sex.
The Essential Ved Mehta
The Essential Ved Mehta is the definitive collection of the author’s work, containing excerpts from nearly all his writings, many of which first appeared in William Shawn’s New Yorker. It begins with his first book, the classic autobiography highlighting his blindness, Face to Face, and goes on to feature, among others, his iconic books about India and his great family saga Continents of Exile. Each entry comes with a reflection by Mehta. Authoritative and illuminating, The Essential Ved Mehta is not just an introduction to this seminal writer but also a passionate record of a writer looking back upon his own work.
Sub title: Dispatches from a Europe in Crisis
In 2009, after several years in China, journalist Pallavi Aiyar moved to Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union, to discover a Europe plagued by a financial crisis, and unsure of its place in a world where new Asian challengers are eroding its old and comfortable certainties. With a lively mix of memoir, reportage and analysis, Aiyar takes the reader on a romp across the continent as she meets workaholic Indian diamond merchants in Antwerp, upstart Chinese wine barons in Bordeaux, Sikh farmhands in the Italian countryside, and Indian engineers running offshore energy turbines in Belgium.
In the Europe of today everything is in flux, as she discovers through conversations with Muslim immigrants struggling to define their identities, the austere bosses of Germany’s world-beating companies, and bewildered Eurocrats struggling to save the EU from splitting apart. Examining the diverse challenges the continent faces today—among them, bloated welfare states, the accommodation of Islam, the European ambitions of Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs, and the fissures that threaten to break up this union of diverse nations—Punjabi Parmesan takes a panoramic look at Europe’s first-world crisis from a unique India–China perspective.
Sub title: My Life in Letters and Code
Vikram Chandra has been a computer programmer for almost as long as he has been a novelist. In this extraordinary book he returns to his early days as a writer, when he was beginning Red Earth and Pouring Rain, and looks at the connections between these two worlds of art and technology. Coders are obsessed with elegance and style just as writers are but do the words mean the same thing to both? And is it a coincidence that Chandra is drawn to two seemingly opposing ways of thinking? To answer his questions, Chandra delves into the writings of Abhinavagupta, the tenth- and eleventh-century Kashmiri thinker, and creates an idiosyncratic history of coding. Part literary theory, part tech story and part memoir, Mirrored Mind is a book of sweeping ideas. It is a heady and utterly original work.
A Home in Tibet
When her mother dies in a car accident along a great highway in India, far from her country and her family, Tsering decides to take a handful of her ashes to Tibet. She arrives at the foothills of her mother’s ancestral home in a nomadic village in East Tibet to realize that she had been preparing for this homecoming all her life. Everything is familiar to her, especially the flowers of the Tibetan summer. She understands then the gift her mother had bequeathed her: the love of a land.
A Home in Tibet is a daughter’s haunting tribute to a mother and a homeland. A story about the love between a mother and a daughter who only had each other as family and refuge, it gestures to the journeys made by those exiled from their lands, and the dreams of daughters.
The Black Coat
It is the 1970s. After a bloody struggle, Bangladesh is an independent nation. But thousands are pouring into Dhaka from all over the country, looking for food and shelter. Among them is Nur Hussain, an uneducated young man from a remote village, who is only good at mimicking a famous speech of the prime minister's. He turns up at journalist Khaleque Biswas’s doorstep, seeking employment. Initially Nur is a burden for Khaleque, but then Khaleque, who has recently lost his job, has the idea of turning Nur into a fake Sheikh Mujib. With the blessings of the political establishment, he starts cashing in on the nationalist fervour of the city’s poorest. But even as the money rolls in, the tension between the two men increases and reaches a violent climax when Nur refuses to stick to the script.
Intense yet chilling, this brilliant first novel is a meditation on power, greed and the human cost of politics.