Books of the week: Our picks, from Nora Bossong's Gramsci’s Fall to Can You Hear Kashmiri Women Speak?

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

Aarushi Agrawal July 29, 2020 16:21:00 IST
Books of the week: Our picks, from Nora Bossong's Gramsci’s Fall to Can You Hear Kashmiri Women Speak?

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

Gramsci’s Fall
By Nora Bossong
Seagull Books | Rs 799 | 284 pages

German author Nora Bossong’s novel follows 46-year-old Anton Stöver, whose marriage is broken and career has reached a dead end. Then he’s offered the chance to go to Rome to research Antonio Gramsci, a past leader of Italian communism. Gramsci, who was supposed to save Italy from Mussolini, falls in love with a Russian comrade instead, navigating the conflict of having intense feelings for someone and fighting for great ideals.

Read more about the book here.

– SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

The Loneliness of Hira Barua
By Arupa Patangia Kalita; translated by Ranjita Biswas
Pan Macmillan India | Rs 450 | 240 pages

Award-winning translator Ranjita Biswas translates Assamese author Arupa Patangia Kalita’s Sahitya Akademi Award-winning collection of stories. In one, the ageing widow Hira Barua fears she is starting to resemble a lonely Englishwomen she had known in her past. In another, a vicious sexual assault by the invading military drives a group of women into a shelter home. Together, the stories touch upon family, violence, trauma, ambition, and domesticity.

Read more about the book here.

The Day Before Today: Lockdown Stories
By Gayatri Gill
Speaking Tiger | Rs 250 | 160 pages

Writer and producer Gayatri Gill’s collection of short stories are situated in a new, sanitised world, where everything has changed. A Facebook status update is the only way to communicate with a sibling in a containment zone. In a deserted guesthouse, a ghost falls in love with the mother of a new-born. Parties are on Zoom and children invent strange new games in this dystopian world. It’s even possible to get away with murder if you’re working for essential services.

Read more about the book here.

– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

Songs of the Soil: Modernist Melody: The Art of Manoj Dutta
By Manasij Majumdar
Mapin Publishing | Rs 4,500 | 196 pages

Author, teacher and art critic Manasij Majumdar traces the major trends in the oeuvre of artist Manoj Dutta. He consults his personal collection, as well as those accessible in Kolkata and Delhi, exploring the unique blend of ‘Indianness’ and personal idiom. Dutta’s art, while relying on traditional concepts of art for visual meaning-making, especially folk art, integrates it with a distinctly modern sensibility. The book is published in association with Sanchit Art Gallery.

Read more about the book here.

Calcutta Nights
By Hemendra Kumar Roy; Translated by Rajat Chaudhuri
Niyogi Books | Rs 295 | 140 pages

Writer Rajat Chaudhuri translates Bengali author Hemendra Kumar Roy’s life story, first published in 1923. The book is set in Calcutta, capital of British India, during the first two decades of the last century, a politically turbulent time. This first-hand account presents the city as one of sin, pleasure and suffering, commenting upon the lifestyles of Bengali ‘babus’ and the different people the city was teeming with.

Read more about the book here.

– NON-FICTION

Can You Hear Kashmiri Women Speak? Narratives of Resistance and Resilience
Edited by Nitasha Kaul and Ather Zia
Women Unlimited | Rs 795

Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster Nitasha Kaul and teacher at the University of Northern Colorado Greeley Ather Zia edit an anthology of writing by Kashmiri women. They speak about the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370, discuss women’s companionship and female alliances, and explore the literature of resistance. They also analyse links between violence, women’s livelihoods and environmental destruction, among others.

Read more about the book here.

Hinduism Before Reform
By Brian A Hatcher
Harvard University Press | Rs 3,505 | 336 pages

Packard Chair of Theology at Tufts University Brian A Hatcher presents a retelling of the origins of contemporary Hinduism, arguing against the long-established notion of religious reform, through focusing on the Brahmo Samaj and the Swaminarayan Sampraday. Instead of a clear dichotomy between backward and modern belief systems, he is interested in how religious authority is acquired and projected, questioning how religious history would look through this lens.

Read more about the book here.

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