Books of the week: From a translation of Sane Guruji's Shyamchi Aai to Yashaswini Chandra's The Tale of the Horse, our picks

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

Aarushi Agrawal February 14, 2021 12:59:22 IST
Books of the week: From a translation of Sane Guruji's Shyamchi Aai to Yashaswini Chandra's The Tale of the Horse, 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

The Politician
By Devesh Verma
Penguin Random House India | Rs 599 | 376 pages

Journalist Devesh Verma’s novel follows the ambitious Ram Mohan in a newly independent India, who soon realises that without political or bureaucratic power, a respectable life is only a pretence. And when Gulab Singh rescues him from being insulted by a thug, he becomes convinced of the usefulness of violence in certain situations.

Read more about the book here.

The Inheritance of Words: Writings from Arunachal Pradesh
Edited by Mamang Dai
Zubaan Books | Rs 350 | 198 pages

Writer Mamang Dai edits this anthology of women’s writing from Arunachal Pradesh, which started changing after it opened up to tourism and the State introduced Hindi as its official language. The writings here discuss identity, home, belonging, language, folk culture, and more. Poets and writers have recorded much of their culture’s oral histories, safeguarding tribal and collective memory.

Read more about the book here.

– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

Louiz Banks: A Symphony of Love
By Ashis Ghatak
Rupa Publications | Rs 595 | 240 pages

Ashis Ghatak presents a biography of Louiz Banks, from his childhood as a Nepali boy in Darjeeling to becoming the godfather of Indian jazz. His earliest training was under his father George Banks who taught him the three-step process to successful musicianship: imitation, integration, and innovation. From starting with a band in Kolkata to meeting RD Burman in Mumbai, the book offers an anecdotes-filled story of his five-decade career, personal life, and the history of Indian jazz.

Read more about the book here.

– NON-FICTION

The Tale of the Horse: A History of India on Horseback
By Yashaswini Chandra
Pan Macmillan India | Rs 699 | 328 pages

Researcher Yashaswini Chandra’s book traces the story of horses in India. She discusses their political symbolism, their role in social life, religion, sport, and war, in shaping economies and forging human bonds. She traces the emergence of local breeds like the Kathiawari, Marwari, Zanskari, and Manipuri, and talks about famous horses like Chetak, Laili, and more, among other topics.

Read more about the book here. Read an interview with the author here.

Landscapes of Loss: The Story of an Indian Drought
By Kavitha Iyer
HarperCollins India | Rs 599 | 248 pages

Journalist Kavitha Iyer’s book details the story of Marathwada, which has seen a surge in farmer suicides. At the heart of the crisis is an almost decade-long cyclical drought. Unchanged by relief packages and loan waivers, farmers’ conditions are worsening each year due to bad credit and crop loss. The book tells the region’s story through its people, including farmers, Dalits, landless labourers, farm widows, and children – one that’s representative of the agrarian unrest in much of rural India.

Read more about the book here.

– YOUNG READERS

Shyamchi Aai
By Sane Guruji; translated by Shanta Gokhale
Penguin Random House India | Rs 299 | 336 pages

Novelist Shanta Gokhale translates Marathi writer Sane Guruji’s book. Narrated over 42 nights, Shyam tells ashram residents stories about himself and his childhood days. Some about growing up around the beauty of Konkan, and others about growing up poor, embarrassed at his family’s condition. But at the heart of each story is his Aai, with her wisdom and lessons.

Read more about the book here.

Mermaids in the Moonlight
By Sharanya Manivannan
Westland Publications | Rs 199 | 40 pages

Author Sharanya Manivannan’s book follows Nilayoli and Amma as they voyage through a lagoon in Mattakalappu, focusing on the mysterious sounds rising from the deep. Amma also starts narrating folklore about mermaids, from Luxembourg’s royal mermaid Mélusine to West Asia’s sea-born Julnar and from Ottawa’s shapeshifting Menana to the mermaid princess Suvarnamaccha, a daughter of Ravana who fell in love with Hanuman.

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