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17 Tomatoes is a series of linked stories that revolve around two Sikh boys coming of age in an Indian army camp in Kashmir. Each story takes a minor character from the previous tale and builds a new tale, weaving a collective portrait of the border community. In addition to the boys, Adi (a student of gardens) and Arjun (a budding chemist), we meet a boatman's daughter, a celebrity cricket umpire and Parachute Aunty. From modern missiles to cricket matches, from religious miracles to the sumptuous gardens of Shalimar and Nishat, Singh treats beauty, politics and religion in a gentle and humane manner.
When freedom came to India - so did violence. There hundred thousand were slaughtered - a hundred thousand women were raped, abducted, mutilated - twelve million people were rendered homeless. The theme of this powerful novel is how that violence erupted in the lives of ordinary men and women and in the lives of three brilliantly depicted central characters - Gian, a follower of Gandhi, Debi-dayal, an ardent terrorist, and Debi-dayal's sister, Sundari, a ruthless woman who holds nothing sacred and is half in love with her own brother.
Melancholic and humorous, the stories in this collection tell tales of love, loss, loathing, cynicism and a range of other emotions set in contemporary Delhi. From a self-assured young man coming face-to-face with his dreams from years gone past in Mr Alexander to the trysts of adolescent love in Tara; from a hedonistic night out on the town in Nitin and I to the sheer helplessness of losing a best friend inKaran and Maneck; we find hints and reflections of people we know and situations we meet in our life’s journey towards a chance at happiness. Lyrical and tranquil, the stories in this collection revisit the life we live in the fast-paced world but forget to appreciate, and remember the joys of our everyday existence and shelved dreams.
Astha has everything an educated, middle-class, Delhi woman could ask for - children; a dutiful, loving husband; and comfortable surroundings. When she embarks on a powerful physical relationship with a much younger woman, she risks losing the acquisitions of her conventional marriage. A Married Woman is the story of an artist whose canvas challenges the constraints of middle-class existence. A beautifully honest and seductive story of love, set at a time of political and religious upheaval, A Married Woman is for anyone who has known life's responsibilities.
It is 1984, and New Delhi is simmering with ethnic strife as anti-Sikh riots erupt after prime minister India Gandhi's assassination. This cataclysmic event serves as the backdrop to the day-to-day ordinariness of an immigrant Bengali family's life. Chhobi, the elder, sensitive and intelligent, is forever trying to rein in beautiful, narcissistic Sonali. Ma, their mother, struggles with her loneliness after being widowed in her thirties; Dida is their feisty grandmother whose indomitable spirit prods the family on during times of adversity; and Dadu, their grandfather, is a man perpetually homesick for his estates, irretrievably lost as borders are redrawn to form Bangladesh. Sonny - rich, handsome and arrogant - enters Sonali's life, only to jilt her. Sonali's thwarted love affair, and a maritime misadventure are the catalysts that alter the predictable pattern of the Bengali family's life and propels its women to find within themselves hitherto unknown strengths - and to evolve and deal with changed circumstances. The story traces the gradual erosion of old values, an acceptance of new identities and, for the grandfather, at last a sense of realization that Delhi is home.
The horrors of the Partition and the birth of Pakistan - the two biggest traumas inflicted on the psyche of the Indian subcontinent. Hasn't every Indian - and maybe every Pakistani and Bangladeshi - wondered at some point of time: Was Partition really necessary? Hasn't nearly every person in the subcontinent tired to imagine a world without Partition - no Pakistan, no Indo-Pak wars, no Kargil, and Kashmir stalemate. This novel sweeps across the threshold of that question. Unfurling a scenario, where India at the crossroads of Partition, rejects the division of the country, it moves forward in time to the fifty-first year of Independence. The mood is sinister with fanatics demanding Pakistan, and the ugly face of terrorism defacing the composite culture of a peace-loving India . . . . Where will it end? The author fast-forwards the recent past in a touchdown with grim reality . Read on . . .
Farida Cooper is too shocked by her husband's treachery to even talk about it, but hiding her shame succeeds only in denying the damage to herself and making casualties of others, among them, an infatuated seventeen-year-old boy. Farida is vivacious, voluptuous, intelligent, and rich, not to mention spoiled, selfish, and talented (she paints, writes novels, plays the piano), but her life is hardly as rosy as the appearance suggests. Her father, too wealthy to care what others think, makes a hobby of chasing women. Her mother grows rigid and unloving in consequence. Farida's saving grace is her Kaki with whom she lives after her sixth birthday, but this also heightens the sense of her parents' indifference, and she learns to show nothing of her feelings. Instead, her feelings erupt later in a series of disastrous choices. Her story shuttles between Bombay and Chicago, spanning the years from World War II to the eighties, illuminating along the way themes of love and marriage, feminism and friendship, art and academia.
Rarely does prose capture the vagaries of the human spirit with such acuity and pose. Lyrically written and intensely imagined, Afterbirth and Other Stories invites us to see our dark and luminous selves in an intimate relationship. The stories resonate with our lives and experiences as they take us from a Spitian village to a cultural centre in the Kangra valley and further south of the great metropolises of Delhi and Bangalore. Women emerge as protagonists in most of the stories, laying bare their hidden aspirations, designs and vulnerabilities. The dubious demeanour of a narcissistic woman leads to unexpected events, while a girl's twisted DNA costs her many a friendship. A maidservant who has connections with the underworld teaches her employer a valuable lesson. Through the eyes of a rich socialite and a journalist we see the bizarre and glorious workings of the human mind, while an adolescent girl's adoration of her mother turns disastrous. The characters acquire a life of their own as their stories run across macabre spaces and forage into the depths of their beings. As we grow angry with and share the joys of the actors, bleak truths are revealed and poetic justice is delivered.
John is the young Che-Guevara-like leader of a Maoist revolutionary organization, Red Earth, active in Kerala, India. John's classmate, Abe, has gone missing in police custody, though he is a political innocent. John suspects Abe has been tortured to death. Death in police custody was a regular feature of the dark days of the 19-month Emergency, which the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared in a fit of pure paranoia in June 1975, the year of the story. Not able to withstand the brute force of the State, Red Earth begins to disintegrate. But for John, the unlikely revolution he is working at has already taken on the intimate emotional intensity of a vendetta. The fast-paced action of An Iron Harvest revolves in measured grooves around the characters of John, Sebastian, Abe's elderly father, and the sadistic, sexually troubled Deputy Inspector General of Police, Raman , a killer without a conscience. In bare terms, this is the story of one death and three people. An Iron Harvest is based on a real lift incident.
Anthems of Resistance is about the iconoclastic tradition of poetry nurtured by Ali Sardar Jafri, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Javed Akhtar, Fehmida Riyaz and all those who have been part of the progressive writers' movement in the Indian subcontinent. It documents the rise of the Progressive Writers' Association (PWA), its period of ascendancy, its crucial role in the struggle for independence, and its unflagging spirit of resistance against injustice. In the process, the book highlights various aspects of the PWA's aesthetics and politics such as its internationalist ethos, its romance with modernity, its engagement with feminism, its relationship to Hindi cinema and film lyrics, and the vision of a radically new world that its members articulated with passion. Part history, part literary analysis, part poetic translation, and part unabashed celebration of the PWA era, this book is truly a unique resource for all those interested in how poetry shaped pre-independent and nascent India's political and intellectual culture.
In this selection of stories from the classics of Sanskrit fiction, Professor Naravane offers fascinating glimpses of life in ancient India. Retold in modern English and presented in a lively, fluent style, those stories are marked by an amazing diversity of atmosphere, situation, attitudes and characterization. They reveal the centuries, and convey the unique, distinctive flavour of Indian life and culture.
Anvita, a young girl from small-town north India, finds herself living amidst the Indian community in rapidly changing South Africa. As she begins to build her life there, she sees the full complexity of the Rainbow Nation, learning about the horrors of its racist and exploitative past, and witnessing first-hand the troubles, ranging from the AIDS epidemic to endemic violence, which beset it today. At the same time, she struggles with the demands of family relationships, both past and present, and those of her career, in the end, carving an independent place for herself in this unfamiliar world she begins to call home.
Set in contemporary Communist-ruled West Bengal, Black Tongue explores the story of a young servant girl and her employer whom destiny brings together in an intricate dance of love and hate. Street-smart and sassy, 16-year-old Maya has aspirations beyond her means. Then, she disappears. Amrita, Maya's employer and a social worker, is charged with her death. The ubiquitous Party also begins to investigate the murder, a murder that turns out to be not quite what it seems. Maya believes that her black tongue has wrecked Amrita's beautiful world. Hate simmers in her. Amrita, in a bid to save herself, turns to ex-lover Paresh, the minister's right-hand man. Maya's brother, Naren, a cadre worker, sees an opportunity to make a fast buck in her disappearance. Is this part of a sinister, bigger plan? Or are they shielding somebody? Through the novel, Anjana Basu, explores the contradictions that connect middle-class Kolkata and its urban slums with rural West Bengal. As the events unfold, the story looks askance at a strange, but recurrent socio-political phenomenon typical of West Bengal: pre-modern superstition existing in the interstices of an enlightened political apparatus.
As an only son, Kiran has obligations - to excel in his studies, find a nice Indian girl, and, make his mother and father proud. If only Kiran had anything in common with other Indian kids besides the colour of his skin. They reject him at every turn, and his cretinous American schoolmates are no better. Kiran's not-so-well-kept secrets don't endear him to any group. Playing with dolls; choosing ballet over basketball; taking the school's annual talent show way too seriously. the very things that make Kiran who he is also make him the star of his own personal freak show. And then one fateful day, a revelation: perhaps his desires aren't too earthly, but too divine. Perhaps the solution to the mystery of his existence has been before him since birth. For Kiran Sharma, a long, strange trip is about to begin - a journey so sublime, so ridiculous, so painfully beautiful, that it can only lead to the truth.
After leading a sheltered life for sixteen years, Pessi, Bertie, Randy and Maachh are thrust into the world of the National Defence Academy. Soon they realize that life here is not just about spit and polish, but six terms of adventure and achievement. It is about soaring ambition and tough challenges, a punishing regimen and endless Puttie Parades. However, rugged training and severe ragging cannot keep their spirits down for long. Weaving yarns about imaginary girlfriends, bragging about their escapades and sexual exploits, they turn from greenhorns to tough soldiers. United by their experience, these comrades-in-arms form a bond for life. Tanushree Podder, in this tongue-in-cheek saga of youth, camaraderie and 'growing-up', skillfully reconstructs life at NDA - where boys become men of honour.
Born with a rare form of anaemia, thirteen-year-old Mohini is not expected to live beyond the age of three. Mohini's condition and her impending, inevitable death is the pivot around which the characters of Brahma's Dream live out their lives. But, instead of tragedy, it is humour, the fascinating detail of events as they unfold and, ultimately, the wry and heart-warming wisdom of the girl at the centre of the story that absorbs and envelops the reader. Set in Bombay in the forties, at the defining moment when India emerged from British rule, Brahma's Dream is as much the story of a nation on the move, as of a Maharashtrian family that is forward-thinking and ready to embrace the new order, while holding on to the traditions it holds dear. Far from wallowing in self-pity, Mohini is both an astute observer and an active participant in all that goes on in the Oek household. Her parents, Keshav and Kamala, share a passionate love that is at first rent asunder and then, amazingly, healed, by their daughter's illness. Her young aunt, Vasanti, condemned to an early widowhood that no astrologer foretold, believes that there is a reason for this. Mohini's grandfather, Vishnupant, is the patriarch who rules Koleshwar Nivas with a firm and compassionate hand, a professor of history who has devoted his life to making sense of India's past so that the country may fulfil the promise of its future. And, as India surges towards independence, Mohini's family and friends look to her to help make sense and assign meaning to a rapidly changing world. A remarkable debut novel that succeeds in being hugely entertaining and immensely moving, Brahma's Dream explores the Hindu belief that birth, suffering and death are all but a part of a vast continuum in the mind of a god.
The sun rose in a streak of red over the hills. It looked as though the land beyond was bleeding to death, especially when the red spread to the lake of the moon and the waters rippled in red rivulets backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. Later, Chinku was to remember that day in all its details, first the red sky, then the pointing fingers of the hills, and then the black shadow of the first of the raiders. Dragged by her father from the verandah and hidden in a rabbit hole, Chinku hears sounds of attack and realizes that a strange and deadly foe has been sent to attack her village - the Shadow Armies of the King of Kalabash. In this world of turmoil and helplessness, she is the only one who can save her village with the help of Matrix Stones and her special friend, the wolfboy. Welcome to the world of Chinku and the wolfboy. A fantastic place filled with mystery and enchantment. Helped by magic and the remarkable people she meets along the way, Chinku finds herself embarking on an adventure that will change her life.