Books of the week: From Barack Obama's A Promised Land to A Foot in the Door, our picks

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

Aarushi Agrawal November 23, 2020 12:12:45 IST
Books of the week: From Barack Obama's A Promised Land to A Foot in the Door, 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

A Tamil Month
By V Sanjay Kumar
Bloomsbury Publishing India | Rs 599 | 336 pages

Novelist V Sanjay Kumar’s book is a political thriller that follows Nanban, who is well-versed in Mumbai’s Machiavellian political ways, and plans to shake things up in Tamil Nadu. His meeting with Veerappan Gounder, who suffered a big hit in the previous elections, seems the perfect chance for him to challenge the Tamil status quo. Together they embark on a campaign where no ideal is too high and no action too extreme; but at what price?

Read more about the book here.

– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

A Promised Land
By Barack Obama
Penguin Random House | Rs 1,999 | 768 pages

Forty-fourth US president and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Barack Obama details his life journey, from his earliest political aspirations to becoming the first African American US president. He describes his political education and the landmark moments of his first term of presidency. He explores the reach and limitations of presidential power, offers insight into US partisan politics, defines democracy as being founded on empathy, and more.

Read more about the book here.

Gazing Eastwards: Of Buddhist Monks and Revolutionaries in China
By Romila Thapar
Aleph Book Company | Rs 999 | 340 pages

Emeritus Professor of History at JNU Romila Thapar details her first visit to China in 1957 as a research assistant to Sri Lankan art historian Anil de Silva, working on major Buddhist sites in Maijishan and Dunhuang. Besides these, she also visited historically important cities like Beijing, Xi’an, and Nanking, and smaller cities and villages. She delved into the local cuisine, art, culture, history, and discusses meeting several people, including shaking hands with Chairman Mao.

Read more about the book here.

The Bhutto Dynasty: The Struggle for Power in Pakistan
By Jones Owen Bennett
Penguin Random House India | Rs 999 | 320 pages

Author and journalist Jones Owen Bennett draws on research and unpublished documents collected over 20 years to paint a portrait of Pakistan’s ambitious Bhutto family. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was removed from power in 1977 and executed two years later. Three of his four children – Shahnawaz, Murtaza, and Benazir Bhutto – were also killed. Besides detailing these, the book also discusses the family’s volatile relationship with British colonialists, Pakistan’s armed forces, and the United States.

Read more about the book here. Read an excerpt from the book here.

– NON-FICTION

Professional Wrestling: Politics and Populism
Edited by Sharon Mazer, Heather Levi, Eero Laine, Nell Haynes
Seagull Books | Rs 799 | 252 pages

Theatre professor Sharon Mazer, assistant professor of cultural anthropology Heather Levi, assistant professor of theatre and dance Eero Laine, and anthropologist Nell Haynes edit this volume which asks how professional wrestling is implicated in the current resurgence of populist politics, whether right-wing or leftist. By making a spectacle of violent acts and working contemporary events into its storylines, it’s intrinsically political. With its theatricality, it shows us how we are fighting, what about, and what for.

Read more about the book here.

A Foot in the Door: Dalit Women in Panchayati Raj in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu
By Emma Sydenham, Aloysius Irudayam SJ, Jayshree P Mangubhai
Zubaan Books | Rs 650 | 368 pages

Lawyer and researcher Jayshree P Mangubhai, grassroots activist Aloysius Irudayam SJ, and social justice advocate Emma Sydenham’s book is a culmination of research done in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu’s rural panchayats, and brings voices of Dalit women to the fore. They examine patriarchal and caste-based barriers to Dalit women’s political participation, and show that without a more holistic approach, panchayats will continue reinforcing existing violent hierarchies, arguing for deep, systemic change at every level of governance.

Read more about the book here.

– BOOKER PRIZE 2020 WINNER

Shuggie Bain: A Novel
By Douglas Stuart
Grove Atlantic | Rs 450 | 448 pages

Author Douglas Stuart’s debut novel was awarded the Booker Prize 2020 earlier this week. It follows Hugh ‘Shuggie’ Bain, who spends his 1980s childhood in Glasgow’s public housing. His mother Agnes dreams of a house with its own front door while spending most of their weekly benefit on an alcohol addiction. The older children soon distance from their mother, leaving Shuggie to care for her. Meanwhile, he’s struggling to be a normal boy and fit in while everyone else realises he’s different.

Read more about the book here.

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