The Accidental Prime Minister
Sub title: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh
“Manmohan has three daughters, no son; so he treats Sanjaya as a son.” - Sonia Gandhi, Outlook
In 2004 Sanjaya Baru left a successful career as chief editor of the Financial Express to join Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as his media adviser in UPA 1. Singh offered him the job with the words, ‘Sitting here, I know I will be isolated from the outside world. I want you to be my eyes and ears. Tell me what you think I should know, without fear or favour.’
The Accidental Prime Minister is Baru’s account of what it was like to ‘manage’ public opinion for Singh while giving us a riveting look at Indian politics as it happened behind the scenes. As Singh’s spin doctor and trusted aide for four years, Baru observed up close Singh’s often troubled relations with his ministers, his cautious equation with Sonia Gandhi and how he handled the big crises from managing the Left to pushing through the nuclear deal. In this book he tells all and draws for the first time a revelatory picture of what it was like for Singh to work in a government that had two centres of power.
Insightful, acute and packed with political gossip, The Accidental Prime Minister is one of the great insider accounts of Indian political life and a superb portrait of the Manmohan Singh era.
Love among the Bookshelves
Many readers have grown up with Ruskin Bond’s stories. Now in an utterly delightful anthology, he introduces you to the stories he grew up with. Part memoir, part anthology, Love among the Bookshelves is a glimpse into Ruskin’s life through the books he has loved and an introduction to some forgotten classics.
Sub title: Leader of the Dalits
Venerated as a dalit icon, Kanshiram (1934–2006) is regarded as being next only to Ambedkar today. This book illuminates his journey, from the early years in rural Punjab and with Ambedkarites in Pune, to his launching BAMCEF, an umbrella organization uniting backward castes, scheduled tribes, dalits and minorities, and eventually the Bahujan Samaj Party in 1984.
Drawing on myriad oral and written sources, Badri Narayan shows how Kanshiram mobilized dalits with his homespun idiom, cycle rallies and, uniquely, the use of local folk heroes and myths, rousing their self-respect, and how he struck opportunistic alliances with higher-caste parties to seize power for dalits. Evocatively described is his extraordinary relationship with Mayawati, right until his death, and the role she has played in fulfilling his vision, during and after his lifetime.
Contrasting the approach of the two men, Narayan highlights the turn Kanshiram gave to Ambedkar’s ideas. Unlike Ambedkar, who sought its annihilation, he saw caste as a basis for forging a dalit identity and a source of political empowerment.
Authoritative and insightful, this is a rare portrait of the man who changed the face of dalit society and, indeed, of Indian politics.
The Age of Wrath
Sub title: A History of the Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate period (1206–1526) is commonly portrayed as an age of chaos and violence—of rapacious, plundering kings, turbulent dynasties, and the aggressive imposition of Islam on India. But it was also the era that saw the creation of a pan-Indian empire, on the foundations of which the Mughals and the British later built their own Indian empires. The encounter between Islam and Hinduism also transformed, among other things, India’s architecture, literature, music and food. Abraham Eraly brings this fascinating period vividly alive, portraying the many kings—mad, brilliant, astute, cruel—who ruled during this period, and discussing the political, social and cultural developments that transformed India. Combining erudition with powerful storytelling, analysis with anecdote, The Age of Wrath is a superb book.
Conversations with Waheeda Rehman
Renowned for her natural talent and haunting beauty, Waheeda Rehman’s career spans an astonishing array of key films in Indian cinema, including Pyaasa, Abhijan, Mujhe Jeene Do, Guide, Teesri Kasam and Rang De Basanti.
In this engaging book of conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir, Waheeda Rehman proves to be a lively raconteur, speaking about her life and work with refreshing honesty, humour and insight: from the devastating loss of her parents when she was young to making a life in cinema on her own terms, from insightful accounts of working with extraordinary film practitioners like Guru Dutt, Raj Khosla, Satyajit Ray, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Vijay Anand to her friendship with stars like Nargis and Nanda.
A slice of cinema history told through compelling anecdotes and astute observations, Conversations with Waheeda Rehman provides a rare view of a much-adored and award-winning actress of Indian cinema.
In Central Time, Ranjit Hoskote becomes the storyteller of a turbulent epoch. We meet Ovid and Ghalib, poets in exile or eclipse, in these poems, which are by turns elliptical, conversational and narrative. We meet painters who betray their art, and sculptors who are betrayed by theirs. Fascinated by the enigmas of time, memory and evanescence that art invokes, Hoskote addresses a range of artists including Bihzad, Magritte, Masaki Fujihata and Ranbir Kaleka. At the same time, he retains his affection for the natural world, celebrating the textures and intensities of sensuous experience: the roughness of stone, the dance of light, the flowering of touch and the taste of salt and cinnamon.
A testament to a present shimmering like a mirage between contested pasts and vexed futures, this book pivots around moments of encounter: a defiant squirrel in Anuradhapura, an intriguing collection of objects in a Berlin museum or a man discovering a mass grave near Kabul. Written between 2006 and 2014, the hundred poems that form Central Time resonate with the crises of war, genocide, terror, forced migration and the precariousness of belonging.
Sub title: The Man Cricket Loved Back
‘“Sachin Sachin” will reverberate in my ears till I stop breathing’ —Sachin Tendulkar in his farewell speech
Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from the sport in November 2013 was among the most-watched cricket events of the year, one that tugged at the heartstrings of Indians and cricket lovers worldwide. Shortly after he walked off the field for the last time, the Government of India bestowed the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, on him.
Sachin Tendulkar: The Man Cricket Loved Back is an ESPNcricinfo anthology of fine writing on India’s greatest cricketer. This collection brings together affectionate and perceptive appreciations from teammates and rivals who saw Tendulkar up close—among them, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, John Wright, Allan Donald, Greg Chappell, Sanjay Manjrekar and Aakash Chopra—and contributions from the who’s who of cricket writing, including Gideon Haigh, Mike Marqusee, Ayaz Memon, Ed Smith, Mark Nicholas, Rohit Brijnath, Sharda Ugra and Mukul Kesavan. It also features several interviews conducted with Sachin over the years, and superb pictures of him on and off the field, making for a comprehensive portrait of the cricketer and the man through the eyes of those who have watched and studied him from the closest quarters.
The Living Goddess
Sub title: "A Journey into the Heart of Kathmandu"
To Nepalis the Living Goddess is the embodiment of Devi. Legends swirl about her. But the facts remain shrouded in secrecy and closely guarded by the Living Goddess’s priests and caretakers. Why are Buddhist girls worshipped by Hindu monarchs? Are the initiation rituals as macabre as they are rumoured to be? And what happens to Living Goddesses once they attain puberty? Using myth, religion, history and her unprecedented access to the priests, caretakers and former Living Goddesses, Isabella Tree takes us deep into this hidden world. Through it she draws a vivid portrait of the girl-goddess, the beliefs and practices of traditional Nepal, and the uneasy journey it now makes towards modernity. Deeply felt and written over many years of travel and research, The Living Goddess is a profound, compelling and extremely moving book.
In this delightful book, the reader is invited to overhear a series of playful, sharp philosophical debates between the author and her beloved cat.
To Suki—a sulky, silky feline who believes she is a goddess—her owner is simply her ‘high priestess’, there to do her bidding. To Suniti—a writer, poet, fabulist and feminist icon—Suki is ‘a stroppy cat who talks too much’. But as they discuss the merits of vegetarianism, or the meaning of happiness, or war, or morality or any topic under the sun, it soon becomes clear that the bond between human and animal is a deep, complex and loving one.
Far more than a personal memoir about a dearly departed pet, Suki is a philosophical novel full of tender wisdom, and a unique exploration of the relationship between human and animal.
Readers who have enjoyed J.R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip, Nilanjana Roy’s The Wildings or Paul Auster’s Timbuktu will fall in love with the maddening, lovable, unique character that is Suki—as seen through the eyes of Suniti Namjoshi, her companion, fellow-traveller and one of the foremost women writers of her generation.