Books of the week: From a translation of UR Ananthamurthy's Avasthe to Radhika Singha’s The Coolie's Great War, our picks

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

Aarushi Agrawal December 21, 2020 13:12:41 IST
Books of the week: From a translation of UR Ananthamurthy's Avasthe to Radhika Singha’s The Coolie's Great War, 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

Avasthe: A Novel
By UR Ananthamurthy; translated by Narayan Hegde
HarperCollins India | Rs 499 | 240 pages

Award-winning translator Narayan Hegde translates literary giant UR Ananthamurthy’s novel, first published in 1978, from the Kannada. It’s a country struggling with corruption, whose prime minister is on the way to becoming a ruthless dictator. From his sickbed, revolutionary leader Krishnappa Gowda tackles the schemes of party men, grapples with his conscience, and through a memory that comes and goes, looks for the true meaning of life.

Read more about the book here.

Out of Print: Ten Years: An Anthology of Stories
Edited by Indira Chandrasekhar
Context | Rs 499 | 280 pages

Writer, scientist, and Out of Print founder Indira Chandrasekhar, who set up the literary magazine in 2010 to focus on short stories, brings together select pieces from the publication’s first decade. They reinforce ideas that speak to the spirit of the magazine, including diversity of literary voices, open-mindedness about experimentation, and focus on Indian-language publishing. Above all, they celebrate the honesty and brevity of the short story form.

– NON-FICTION

Patriarchy and the Pangolin: A field guide to Indian men and other species
By Aditi Patil
Permanent Black | Rs 399 | 218 pages

Researcher Aditi Patil, when studying trees as part of conservation research, found that the greatest threat to pangolins and other threatened species is Indian men and the patriarchy. Across North India, travelling with a fellow female researcher, she encounters men, man-made obstacles, and bureaucratic corruption. The stories of her experiences also offer a voice to oppressed or marginalised peoples and species.

Read more about the book here.

The Coolie's Great War: Indian Labour in a Global Conflict, 1914-1921
By Radhika Singha
HarperCollins India | Rs 699 | 396 pages

Professor of Modern Indian History at JNU Radhika Singha looks at the First World War through the lens of Indian labour, constructing a geography of the war marked by tribal settlements and colonial jails. She talks of the porters, construction workers, those who maintained supply lines and removed the wounded from battlefields, and other non-combatants in the army.

Read more about the book here.

JNU Stories: The First 50 Years
Edited by Neeladri Bhattacharya, Kunal Chakrabarti, S Gunasekaran, Janaki Nair, Joy LK Pachuau
Aleph Book Company | Rs 999 | 544 pages

Five JNU professors edit this collection of essays, with over 100 photos, charting the history of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, recalling the university’s ethos and outlining the features which give JNU its identity. Founded in 1969 under G Parthasarathi and Moonis Raza, former students, teachers, administrators, and staff recall the first 50 years of the institution.

Read more about the book here.

– YOUNG READERS

The Impeccable Integrity of Ruby R
By Moni Mohsin
Penguin Random House India | Rs 399 | 272 pages

Pakistani writer Moni Mohsin’s book follows Ruby Rauf, an idealistic scholarship student whose world is upended when she meets actor-turned-politician Saif Haq. She quits her degree to join his campaign as social media manager. Soon she discovers the moral minefield politics is, quickly learning and adapting to ruthless ways. She seems unstoppable until one day when Saif asks her to prove her loyalty with a painful sacrifice.

Read more about the book here.

The Blue Horse and Other Amazing Animals from Indian History
By Nandini Sengupta
Hachette India | Rs 299 | 160 pages

Writer Nandini Sengupta details Indian history through its animals, decentring humans from the narrative. From Akbar’s favourite cheetah Samand Manik and the horse Chetak at the battle of Haldighati to Chhatrapati Shivaji’s dog Waghya, she brings alive the animals and their contributions toward shaping history.

Read more about the book here.

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