Books of the week: From Arundhati Roy’s Azadi to a translation of Unni R's The Cock is the Culprit, our picks

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

Aarushi Agrawal August 30, 2020 14:01:22 IST
Books of the week: From Arundhati Roy’s Azadi to a translation of Unni R's The Cock is the Culprit, 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

The Plague Upon Us
By Shabir Ahmad Mir
Hachette India | Rs 550 | 240 pages

Writer Shabir Ahmad Mir’s debut novel follows Oubaid, who sees insurgency and violence ripping through the streets of his home, Kashmir. As he starts to acknowledge who has brought this plague about, he confronts stories of four childhood friends from his past: a youth caught in conflict, the daughter of a social climber, the son of a landlord, and a militant. As they unravel, their stories diverge and reveal a tragic truth.

Read more about the book here.

A Plate of White Marble
By Bani Basu; translated by Nandini Guha
Niyogi Books | Rs 450 | 328 pages

Award-winning translator Nandini Guha translates eminent Bengali author Bani Basu’s book. First published in 1990, it tells the story of Bandana, who while grieving her husband’s early death, doesn’t conform to societal ideals of widowhood. She dares to begin her life afresh, her son being the only mark of her past she holds on to. But once even that anchor is lost, she leaves behind the safety of home, and joins a children’s home to work for those in need.

Read more about the book here.

The Cock is the Culprit
By Unni R; translated by J Devika
Westland | Rs 399 | 118 pages

Teacher and historian J Devika translates award-winning Malayalam short-story and screenplay writer Unni R’s debut novel. It’s situated in a small village in Kerala, where people are anxious about an invisible rooster that crows at odd hours. When it hoots in the middle of the national anthem being sung at the school, it’s labelled a threat to national security. It offends sentiments and soon there’s a mob thirsty for its blood. The following witch-hunt fuels suspicion that it could even be human, perhaps an anarchist trying to destabilise the country.

– MEMOIR and BIOGRAPHY

Parveen Babi: A Life
By Karishma Upadhyay
Hachette India | Rs 599 | 320 pages

Film journalist Karishma Upadhyay’s book traces the journey of Parveen Babi from growing up in Junagadh to being an actress in Bollywood. The book details her romances, her obsession with a spiritual guide who advised her to quit films, her years of battling mental illness, and her tragic death. It opens up the story of the woman who, on screen, broke the mould of the ‘nice girl’ and off-screen, was often the subject of gossip columns.

Read more about the book here.

Gunning for the Godman: The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu's Conviction
By Ajay Lamba and Sanjeev Mathur
HarperCollins India | Rs 499 | 240 pages

Additional Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) Ajay Lamba and writer Sanjeev Mathur offer a first-hand account of how Lamba landed the Asaram Bapu case. It details how the Baba, convicted for the rape of a minor and who also had murder charges against him, was arrested in 10 days. It also talks about how they assisted the victim and her family through a four-year long trial, despite threats being made not only to the girl and her family but also to Lamba’s own family and team.

Read more about the book here.

– NON-FICTION

Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction
By Arundhati Roy
Penguin Random House India | Rs 499 | 256 pages

Author Arundhati Roy’s collection of essays encourages readers to reflect on the meaning of freedom in a world of growing authoritarianism. She meditates on the ideas of language, the public and private, and the role of fiction and alternative imaginations during these times. Even as the world is plunged in sickness and devastation, she sees the pandemic as a portal, and the book invites readers to view this time as an opportunity to imagine another world.

Read more about the book here.

– YOUNG ADULTS

Savitribai Phule and I
By Sangeeta Mulay
Panther’s Paw Publications | Rs 299 | 144 pages

Writer Sangeeta Mulay’s book follows Shabri, a shy Indian Dalit girl from a village who discovers a diary written by Savitribai Phule. As she comes to the city for engineering college and faces discrimination, the diary becomes her inspiration to fight, and she eventually grows into a confident feminist and activist.

Read more about the book here.

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