Putchalapalli Sundarayya: An Autobiography, edited and abridged by Atlury Murali, National Book Trust, Rs. 145.

If there is one area where competition from private players has not made a government department shape up, it is in publishing. And, P. Sundarayya’s autobiography, brought out by the National Book Trust (NBT), is a fitting example. And, not the first.

Put together by University of Hyderabad professor Atlury Murali with the help of the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram Trust, the manuscript has been culled out of an oral autobiographical narrative stored on 20 cassettes of 90-minutes each.

Agreed, the need to be true to the original, particularly since Sundarayya recorded the narrative mostly in English, must have weighed on Murali, but some attention to detail would have made this chronicle of “Communist Gandhi” and his times in his own words much more reader-friendly.

Still, there can be no denying the mine of information in this autobiography; detailing as it does the various twists and turns in the Communist movement in India.