As the man who brought the popular and the demotic into modern Indian theatre, Habib Tanvir is one of Asia’s most important and gifted theatre directors. In these memoirs, touching on both the private and the public aspects of his life with startling candour, he takes us on a journey from his childhood in Raipur to the Bombay film world of the 1940s and thence to Indian People’s Theatre Association, offering an invaluable window into twentieth-century India.
Whether he is describing his family members, friends or his actors, Habib Tanvir is superbly observant and sharply insightful, capturing both the quotidian and the quirky in his distinct style and delightful voice. And the ease of Mahmood Farooqui’s translation matches the lively cadence of Tanvir’s prose. Written with great warmth, humour and insight, these memoirs provide a memorable and fully engaging portrait of an extraordinary man.
Sub title: Chronicle of an Election Fought and Lost
In March 2009 Manvendra Singh, the BJP’s candidate for the Barmer Lok Sabha constituency, launched his election campaign to retain the seat that he had won with a record margin in 2004 and lovingly nurtured as a member of Parliament for five years.
Over two months, he criss-crossed his sprawling constituency straddling Rajasthan’s Thar Desert, covering 34,000 kilometres in temperatures often nearing 50°C, to meet his constituents. They included herders and headmen; communities of traditional balladeers and craftsmen; youth groups and hoary old political fixers; Muslim pirs, Jain munis and Hindu priests.
Campaign Diary, a daily record of those gruelling weeks of canvassing voters, is a compelling portrait of democracy in action in one corner of India, and shows the impact of local, national and international issues and policies at the grass-roots level. Vividly bringing to life the heat and dust, the intrigues and infighting, the moving personal encounters and comic episodes that make up the Great Indian Election Circus, Campaign Diary is also an honest and insightful account of the rewards—and the heartbreak—of a life in politics.
The Hungry Ghosts
Moving between Toronto and war-torn Sri Lanka of the 1980s and 90s, The Hungry Ghosts tells an intense and absorbing story of one man’s restless search for redemption. Shivan Rassiah, gay and in his early thirties, prepares to return from Canada to his dying grandmother in Sri Lanka. Much is riding on this trip for Shivan, who hopes it will bring him the renewal he so desperately needs. Yet, as the night before he leaves unfolds, Shivan is haunted by the memories of his complicated relationship with his grandmother through his early years, the tragic outcome of a visit he paid her some years after migrating to Canada, and the Buddhist tales she told him with their themes of destiny and karma, which insist there is no escape from acts committed. Engulfed by his memories and mistakes, Shivan begins to doubt that the redemption he seeks might indeed be possible.
A lush, complex novel of migration, sexuality, family and exile, The Hungry Ghosts brings vividly to life the smell, colours, landscape, manners and customs of the author’s native Sri Lanka and his adopted homeland Canada.
Orphaned at birth, seventeen-year-old Korobi Roy has enjoyed a privileged childhood with her adoring grandparents in Kolkata. But she is troubled by the silence that surrounds her parents’ death and clings to her only inheritance from them: the unfinished love note she found hidden in her mother’s book of poetry. The young woman dreams of one day finding a love as powerful as her parents’, and it seems her wish has come true when she meets the charming Rajat, the only son of a high-profile business family.
On the night of their engagement party, Korobi’s grandfather dies of a sudden heart attack. His death reveals the family’s financial problems as well as a dark secret. This secret will shatter Korobi’s sense of self and will take her out of her sheltered Kolkata life into a search, in the company of an attractive stranger, across America, a country that she finds at once dangerous, unwelcoming and alluring. What she discovers at the end will force her to make the most difficult choice of her life. No one tells such heart-stopping stories with as much color and emotion as Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Oleander Girl is the writer at her very best.
Praise for One Amazing Thing
‘An incredible and highly original premise in the hands of a gifted storyteller has resulted in this jewel of a story. It is, to paraphrase the book’s title, an amazing thing’ -Abraham Verghese
‘Ingeniously conceived and intelligently written, this novel is a fable for our time’- Ha Jin
Praise for The Palace of Illusions
‘Her women are desperate, wonderful, complicated, lyrical, memorable, even magical’ Vogue India
‘Divakaruni has given Draupadi a powerful voice’ Outlook
Sub title: Hidden Biases of Good People
I know my own mind.
I am able to assess others in a fair and accurate way.
‘Blindspot’ is the authors’ metaphor for the portion of the mind that houses hidden biases. Writing with simplicity and verve, Banaji and Greenwald question the extent to which our perceptions of social groups—without our awareness or conscious control—shape our likes and dislikes and our judgments about people’s character, abilities and potential.
In Blindspot, the authors reveal hidden biases through hands-on experience with the Implicit Association Test, a method that has revolutionized the way scientists learn about the human mind and that gives us a glimpse into what lies within the metaphoric blindspot.
The ‘good people’ in the title are the many people who strive to align their behavior with their intentions. The aim of Blindspot is to explain the science in plain enough language to help well-intentioned people achieve that alignment.
In this collection of essays, profiles and reportage, Ian Jack explores a wide and unlikely range of subjects, which he encountered in more than thirty years of reporting from India and its subcontinental neighbours.
Some of the India he describes has vanished: the drift of coal smoke from passenger trains, tea drunk from clay kulhads at country junctions. Some of it remains obscure: Orwell’s birthplace in Motihari, the Anglo- Indian search for a homeland in McCluskiegunge. Some of it perseveres: the Nehru–Gandhis, the distress, the politics, and the hospitality. The choice is eclectic: he writes about G.D. Birla and river steamers on the one hand, and Benazir Bhutto and railway accidents on the other. But every piece in this selection is informed by the author’s acute insights and superb eye for detail, expressed in luminous, evocative prose.
Sub title: The Lessons of My Life
If there’s anyone who’s been around, seen it all and lived life to the hilt, it has to be Khushwant Singh. India’s most popular and prolific writer has, over the years, enlightened and outraged in equal measure, and enriched our lives with his humour, his honesty and his sharp insights and observations.
In Khushwantnama, the 98-year-old reflects on a life lived fully and the lessons it has taught him. Here is his distilled wisdom on subjects as diverse as old age and the fear of death; on the joy of sex, the pleasures of poetry and the importance of laughter; on how to cope with retirement and live a long, happy and healthy life. Here, too, are his reflections on politics, politicians and the future of India; on what it takes to be a writer; and on what religion means to him.
The Power of Promise
Sub title: Examining Nuclear Energy in India
Nuclear power has been held out as possibly the most important source of energy for India. And the dream of a nuclear powered India has been supported by huge financial budgets and high level political commitment for over six decades. Nuclear power has also been held out as safe, environmentally benign and cheap. Physicist and writer, M.V. Ramana shows that nuclear power has been more expensive than conventional forms of electricity generation, that the ever-present risk of catastrophic accidents is heightened by observed organizational inadequacies at nuclear facilities, and that existing nuclear fuel cycle facilities have been correlated with impacts on public health and the environment. He offers detailed information and analysis.
‘A landmark in the debate on nuclear energy in India’—Amita Baviskar
‘Do not claim to know anything about India's nuclear programme if you have not read this book yet’—Mycle Schneider
How It Happened
Dadi, the imperious matriarch of the Bandian family in Karachi, swears by the virtues of arranged marriage. All her ancestors – including a dentally and optically challenged aunt – have been perfectly well-served by such arrangements. But her grandchildren are harder to please.
Haroon, the apple of her eye, has to suffer half a dozen candidates until he finds the perfect Shia-Syed girl of his dreams. But it is Zeba, his sister, who has the tougher time, as she is accosted by a bevy of suitors, including a potbellied cousin and a banker who reeks of sesame oil.
Told by the witty, hawk-eyed Saleha, the precocious youngest sibling, this is a romantic, amusing and utterly delightful story about how marriages are made and unmade---not in heaven, but in the drawing room and over the phone.
‘Shazaf Fatima Haider’s unfailing eye for drama, warm-hearted understanding of human foibles and her sparkling humour make her the person best-suited to tell this moving, dramatic tale. How It Happened is destined to become a classic, and its author one of the most important writers of her generation’. – Musharraf Ali Farooqi, author of Between Clay and Dust
‘Full of charming irreverence and nail-biting suspense, this delightfully funny book by a fresh young author is a great read’. – Bapsi Sidhwa, author of Ice-Candy-Man
My Great India Cookbook
An authority on eclectic cuisine, and with an experience of over twenty years, Chef Vikas Khanna brings together the most delicious recipes from his travels across India. From Bharwan Murgh to Parda-Nashin Kebabs, Surat Patra to Fanasachi Bhaaji, and from Shirazi Pulao to Bepadiya Rotli, there are recipes to suit every palate and preference. Celebrating the richness and variety of Indian cooking, Vikas shares exclusive recipes for delectable starters, lip-smacking chutneys and achars, and mouth-watering desserts made on special occasions.
With more than 130 easy-to-prepare recipes and heart-warming anecdotes from the farthest corners of India, the Michelin Star chef takes you along in his culinary journey from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Rajasthan to West Bengal. You are sure to experience the same magic that he felt as he put the recipes together, one beautiful region at a time.