The Pakistan Project: A Feminist Perspective on Nation and Identity; Rubina Saigol, Women Unlimited, Rs.650

Rubina Saigol discusses the unstable history of the idea of Pakistan, made up as it is of often contradictory views. She talks about how Pakistan’s fractured and fragile self-identity hides itself behind a veneer of muscular manhood, reinforced through an ideology of militarism and religious fundamentalism. She, thus, gives the lie to the successive ‘ideas of Pakistan’ which the state, vested interests, and religious institutions have used in order to oppress an entire population, and especially, women and how women have fought back.

The Yellow World; Albert Espinosa, Penguin India, Rs.499

Albert Espinosa didn’t want to write a book about surviving cancer, so he didn’t. He wrote a book about the Yellow World, instead. What is the yellow world? It is a world within everyone’s reach, a world the colour of the sun. It is the a way of nourishing yourself with the lessons learnt from good moments and bad. The yellow world has no rules; it is made of discoveries through which Albert shows us how to connect daily reality to our most distant dreams.

Panchali’s Pledge; Subramania Bharati, Translated by Usha Rajagopalan, Hachette India, Rs.350

Bharati’s seminal work, Panchali Sabadham, re-imagines the pivotal game of dice incident in the Mahabharata, in which Yudhisthira stakes and loses his kingdom, his wealth, his brothers and finally his wife, Draupadi. Bharati published the first of the two-part minor epic in 1912 while living in the French territory of Pondicherry to escape British persecution. It was intended as a political allegory to the ongoing freedom movement and as an affirmation of the latent power in women. Usha Rajagopalan’s translation seeks to complement what Bharati himself set out to do with the original text: to “create an epic using simple phrases, a simple style, easily understood prosody and rhythm which the common man appreciates.”

The Secret Wishlist; Preeti Shenoy, Westland, Rs.175

At 16, Diksha finds her life revolving around school, boys and endless hours of fun with her best friend. But, one day, all that changes. What starts as an innocent crush explodes into something beyond her control. Eighteen years later, she finds herself at the crossroads of life. Urged by a twist of events, a wish list is born. But can a wish list help her piece back her life together? Will she succumb to the tangled mess of an extramarital relationship?

The Peacenik Swap; Joseph Sebastian, Frog Books, Rs.195

Abdul Taufiq, an escaped terrorist from Bangalore Central Prison, is on the run and trying to cross into Pakistan to rejoin his handlers. The Difayey Kashmir, a brutal group of terrorists, hold a busload of peaceniks hostage at the Wagah-Attari border checkpoint, demanding unimpeded passage for Abdul Taufiq. The Alpha Squad of ‘Q’ Branch CID of the Tamil Nadu Police is asked to trace Taufiq with instructions to keep him alive. A fascinating read of one incident in a proxy war gone awry.

Nampally Road; Meena Alexander, Orient Blackswan, price not stated.

After four years as a student in England, Mira Kannadical returns to India to teach and write, hoping that ‘by writing a few poems… I could start to stitch it all together; my birth in India, a few years after national independence, my colonial education, my rebellion against the arranged marriage my mother had in mind for me, my years of research in England.’ But Mira finds India teeming with confusion and unrest. Mira then looks to people around her to help her define herself: Durgabai, practical and devoted to her patients; Old Swami Chari, preaching that this world’s sufferings are only an illusion; and her rebellious lover Ramu, urging her towards dangerous political action. A vivid portrayal of contemporary India and one woman’s struggle to piece together her past.

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