Books of the week: From Romila Thapar's Voices of Dissent to The Best Stories of Dhumketu, our picks

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

Aarushi Agrawal October 18, 2020 12:57:42 IST
Books of the week: From Romila Thapar's Voices of Dissent to The Best Stories of Dhumketu, 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 Sunday, 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

A Time for Mercy
By John Grisham
Hachette India | Rs 699 | 480 pages

Bestselling author John Grisham’s book follows Deputy Stuart Kofer, shielded by the police code of silence even as he gets drunk and abuses his girlfriend Josie and her children. One night, he goes farther than he has before, leaving Josie for dead. Her 16-year-old son Drew picks up a gun and takes the law into his own hands. Lawyer Jake Brigance is the only one around with enough experience to defend Drew. Although it seems obvious that the outcome of the trial will be against Drew, with Brigance, anything is possible.

Read more about the book here.

Feral Dreams: Mowgli & His Mothers
By Stephen Alter
Aleph Book Company | Rs 599 | 208 pages

Author Stephen Alter’s book offers a new spin on Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book. Here, Mowgli is raised by an elephant matriarch living in a wildlife sanctuary. After a series of adventures, he is discovered deep in the jungle by forest rangers and delivered to an orphanage. He grows up rebelling against the restraints of civilisation, yearning for the forest, and finally settling into a discontented adulthood.

Read more about the book here.

– SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGIES

The Greatest Hindi Stories Ever Told
Translated by Poonam Saxena
Aleph Book Company | Rs 699 | 336 pages

Writer and translator Poonam Saxena chooses and translates 25 stories, representing the finest of Hindi short fiction. In Premchand’s ‘The Thakur’s Well,’ ‘low caste’ Gangi struggles to find drinking water for her ill husband. In Krishna Sobti’s ‘The Times Have Changed,’ matriarch Shahni bids a heart-breaking farewell to her village during Partition. Authors featured in the book include Krishna Baldev Vaid, Yashpal, Bhisham Sahni, Usha Priyamvada, Amarkant, and Shivani, among others.

Read more about the book here.

Ratno Dholi: The Best Stories of Dhumketu
Translated by Jenny Bhatt
HarperCollins India | Rs 399 | 324 pages

Writer and translator Jenny Bhatt collects and translates the stories of Gujarati writer Gaurishankar Govardhanram Joshi, who wrote under the pen name Dhumketu. A contemporary of Tagore, Premchand, and Manto, he published 24 short story collections. Among the ones in this anthology are those about a tragic love story of a village drummer and his dancer lover; a long-awaited letter that finally arrives too late; and a tea-house near Darjeeling run by a mysterious queen.

Read more about the book here.

– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

Off the Beaten Track: The Story of My Unconventional Life
By Saeeda Bano; translated by Shahana Raza
Zubaan Books and Penguin Random House India | Rs 499 | 256 pages

Saeeda Bano is the first woman in India to work as a radio newsreader, regarded as the doyenne of Urdu broadcasting. Her granddaughter Shahana Raza has now translated Bano’s memoir from the Urdu to English. The book details her life, from walking out of a suffocating marriage to witnessing the violence of Partition, and more. She also recounts incidents like losing her son for a night in a refugee camp, and eating toast with Nehru, among others.

Read more about the book here.

– NON-FICTION

Voices of Dissent: An Essay
By Romila Thapar
Seagull Books | Rs 499 | 168 pages

Eminent scholar and Emeritus Professor of History at JNU, Romila Thapar’s essay traces the history of dissent in the Indian subcontinent, an act that’s instantly labelled anti-Indian today. She looks at the non-violent articulation of dissent, beginning from the Vedic times to the emergence of groups jointly called Shramanas, and from the Bhakti sants to Gandhi’s satyagraha. She emphasises the use of religion as an idiom reflecting social change, and highlights public responses to particular forms of dissent.

Read more about the book here.

Inquilab: A Decade of Protest
By Various Authors
HarperCollins India | Rs 399 | 224 pages

The speeches, letters, and lectures collected in this book capture the most important events and issues of the past decade, from the 2011 Anna Andolan to the 2019 anti-CAA-NRC movement. These demand justice, equality, better governance, and essentially, freedom in independent India. The collection includes writing by Kavita Krishnan, Rana Ayyub, Rohith Vemula, Kanhaiya Kuman, Romila Thapar, Chandra Shekhar Aazad, and Ramchandra Guha, among others.

Read more about the book here.

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