Books of the week: From Meena Kandasamy's The Orders Were to Rape You to Gracy's Baby Doll, our picks

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

Aarushi Agrawal February 22, 2021 10:27:07 IST
Books of the week: From Meena Kandasamy's The Orders Were to Rape You to Gracy's Baby Doll, 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

Collected English Writings
By C Subramania Bharati; translated by Mira T Sundara Rajan
Penguin Random House India | Rs 399 | 224 pages

Scholar Mira Ta Sundara Rajan translates the writings of her great-grandfather, Tamilian author and nationalist thinker C Subramania Bharati’s (1882-1921). The book includes his essays, poems, journalistic pieces, personal journal entries, and more. Known as the Mahakavi (supreme poet) of the Tamils, he argued for the upliftment of women and irrelevance of caste, among other themes.

Read more about the book here.

Baby Doll: Short Stories
By Gracy; translated by Fathima EV
HarperCollins India | Rs 399 | 244 pages

Writer Fathima EV translates Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award winner Gracy’s short stories from the Malayalam. The stories are about, among others, the bitter defiance of a daughter who’s going to her mother’s funeral in her most alluring sari; a retelling of Draupadi; the sinister coming of age tale of a young girl, and more.

Read more about the book here.

The Ichi Tree Monkey: New and Selected Stories
By Bama; translated by N Ravi Shanker
Speaking Tiger Books | Rs 299 | 160 pages

Poet N Ravi Shanker translates teacher and author Bama’s stories, set among the Dalits of rural Tamil Nadu. In one story, Pachayamma taunts the rich landlady by collecting fodder only from her fields despite dire threats, and laughs in the face of policemen. In another, the handsome Ammasi leaves a landlord angry by calling him his brother. In one, a pig and monkey discuss who deserves higher status, and in another, a ghost demands whisky and has no caste.

Read more about the book here.

Sylvia: Distant Avuncular Ends
By Maithreyi Karnoor
Westland Publications | Rs 499

Writer and translator Maithreyi Karnoor’s novel follows Cajetan Pereira who, even as he searches for his roots in Goa, yearns for his childhood home in Tanzania. In walks Sylvia, a young woman in search of a story. As they discover a past connection and find ways of building their relationship, they bond over the violence that’s shaped them and more.

– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

Sambhaji
By Vishwas Patil; translated by Vikrant Pande
Westland Publications | Rs 899 | 538 pages

Vikrant Pande translates acclaimed Marathi author Vishwas Patil’s biography of Sambhaji. His mother died when he was barely two and father Shivaji was always away, chasing dreams of Swaraj, keeping Aurangzeb at bay. There’s also dark forces at play in the palace, with Soyrabai scheming to place her son Rajaram on the throne, even as Sambhaji is the rightful heir.

– NON-FICTION

The Orders Were to Rape You: Tigresses in the Tamil Eelam Struggle
By Meena Kandasamy
Navayana | Rs 199 | 104 pages

Writer and activist Meena Kandasamy’s book pieces together the violence faced by the female fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the aftermath of the 2009 war of the Sri Lankan state against Tamils. She meets women in camps where orders were to rape them, and also presents translated poetry of three Tamil women combatants.

Read more about the book here.

No Land's People: The Untold Story of Assam's NRC crisis
By Saha Abhishek
HarperCollins India | Rs 599 | 302 pages

Journalist Abhishek Saha, whose reportage focuses on the northeast, documents the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Assam’s citizenship tangle. The book intersects with the preparation for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam that sought to establish the citizenship of the state’s residents. The final list, published on 31 August, 2019, left out around 1.9 million applications who risk being rendered stateless. The book also explores the technical, social, and legal aspects of the exercise.

Read more about the book here.

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