Books of the week: From Rachel Shihor's Yankinton to Kishwar Desai’s The Longest Kiss, our picks

Our weekly roundup of books that should be on your radar.

Aarushi Agrawal December 28, 2020 11:47:53 IST
Books of the week: From Rachel Shihor's Yankinton to Kishwar Desai’s The Longest Kiss, our picks

We love stories, and even in the age of Netflix-and-chill, there's nothing like a good book that promises a couple of hours of absorption — whether curled up in bed, in your favourite coffeehouse, or that long (and tiresome) commute to work. Every week, we'll have a succinct pick of books, across diverse genres, that have been newly made available for your reading pleasure. Get them wherever you get your books — the friendly neighbourhood bookseller, e-retail website, chain store — and in whatever form you prefer. Happy reading!

For more of our weekly book recommendations, click here.

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– FICTION

Yankinton
By Rachel Shihor; translated by Sara Tropper and Esther Frumkin
Seagull Books | Rs 499 | 164 pages

Translators Sara Tropper and Esther Frumkin translate author Rachel Shihor’s novel, set in the early days of the Jewish state, about Holocaust refugees who struggled to build new lives in Israel. It follows a young Orthodox Jewish girl growing up in Tel Aviv as she navigates the streets, avoiding spots exposed to Arab sniper fire, seeking literature beyond Soviet propaganda, and navigating the peculiarities of the adults around her.

Read more about the book here.

The Kathasaritsagara
By Meena Arora Nayak
Aleph Book Company | Rs 999 | 492 pages

Author Meena Arora Nayak’s book is a retelling of the Indian epic Kathasaritasagara, compiled around 1070 CE by Somadeva Bhatt. It’s the foundational text for several Indian folk tales, including Vetala Pachisi and Panchatantra. The epic’s central story revolves around Naravahanadatta, the son of Raja Udayana, and his marital quests, which this retelling focuses on.

Read more about the book here.

The Runaway Boy
By Manoranjan Byapari; translated by V Ramaswamy
Westland | Rs 599 | 370 pages

Translator V Ramaswamy translates the first part of award-winning writer Manoranjan Byapari’s Chandal Jibon Trilogy from the Bengali. Beginning in East Pakistan, they follow Jibon, who reaches a West Bengal refugee camp as an infant with his Dalit parents. At 13, he runs away to Calcutta, witnessing a newly independent India as it grapples with communalism and grave disparities.

Raagam Taanam Pallavi: A Lalli Mystery
By Kalpana Swaminathan
Speaking Tiger Books | Rs 499 | 312 pages

Writer Kalpana Swaminathan’s protagonist Lalli, a retired policewoman, is a detective who regularly solves crimes, except this time she suspects that she herself may be the murderer. A forgotten piece of music is her only clue until a second murder occurs. Lalli turns to the story of the six-headed god Murugan. Diving deep into the myth and tradition, song and music, Lalli finds the truth.

Read more about the book here.

Sometimes Ivory, Sometimes Sand
By Mahek Jangda
Hachette India | Rs 450 | 280 pages

Writer Mahek Jangda tells the story of two women, Laila Jagir, who has a flair for politics and is the daughter of a powerful councilman, and Jasmine Mir, whose world has been shaped by her father’s disappearance and a conservative mother who suppresses her own voice. The two are brought together when Jasmine leaves to find her father and Laila is married in a political trade-off, and soon, they embark on a political campaign together.

Read more about the book here.

– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

The Longest Kiss: The Life and Times of Devika Rani
By Kishwar Desai
Westland | Rs 599 | 460 pages

Author and playwright Kishwar Desai presents a biography of Devika Rani, India’s first international star in the 1930s and 40s. The book details her first film Karma, and the turbulent relationship with her husband Himanshu Rai. It explores the work of Bombay Talkies, the studio the couple launched together which, following his death, Devika ran alone, until she met artist Svetoslav Roerich, finally dying amid controversy.

A Forgotten Ambassador in Cairo: The Life and Times of Syud Hossain
By NS Vinodh
Simon & Schuster India | Rs 799 | 392 pages

Writer NS Vinodh tells the story of Syud Hossain, a leader of the Indian Independence movement in Cairo. Starting out as a journalist, he briefly eloped with Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister. The marriage was later annulled and he was asked to stay away from the country for a few years, fighting for freedom from the US. Returning to an independent India, he was appointed the first Indian ambassador to Egypt, where he died while in service.

Read more about the book here.

– NON-FICTION

Ceasefire City: Militarism, Capitalism and Urbanism in Dimapur
By Dolly Kikon, Duncan McDuieRa
Oxford University Press India | Rs | 284 pages

Anthropologist Dolly Kikon and urban sociology professor Duncan McDuieRa capture the dynamics of Dimapur, exploring the city’s military presence, capitalism, and the anxieties about urban expansion on tribal space. They also assess the lived realities of people living in a city steeped in militarisation and violence, as a result of Asia’s longest-running separatist conflict.

Read more about the book here.

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