Books of the week: From Shantanu Bhattacharya's Portal to Shekhar Pathak's The Chipko Movement, our picks

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

Aarushi Agrawal December 14, 2020 12:04:20 IST
Books of the week: From Shantanu Bhattacharya's Portal to Shekhar Pathak's The Chipko Movement, 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

Portal: The Curious Account of Achintya Bose
Conceptualised by Shantanu Bhattacharya
Tulika Books | Rs 1,250 | 128 pages

Photographer Shantanu Bhattacharya presents the personal diary of Achintya Bose, the owner of a small photography studio in Calcutta. A fictional ‘found archive’, the diary is maintained sporadically between 1994-96, before his sudden disappearance. It contains his photographic prints, letters, and other ephemera, through which he’s collecting information about an elusive woman who doesn’t seem to age through a century. The search also traces the local history of photography and of publications that reflect popular culture.

Read more about the book here.

– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

Dewaji: Making of an Ambedkarite Family
By Dipankar Kamble
Panther’s Paw Publication | Rs 299

Writer Dipankar Kamble offers a portrait of his great-grandfather Dewajibapu Khobragade and Khobragade’s mother Paikabai. It details how Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s vision shaped the course of the family history, who have made major contributions to the Ambedkarite Movement. The book also details how Dalits were intellectuals, political thinkers, lovers of democracy in India, and more.

Read more about the book here.

In the Shadow of a Sword: The Memoir of a Woman Leader in the LTTE
By Thamizhini; translated by Nedra Rodrigo
Yoda Press-SAGE Select | Rs 495 | 224 pages

Independent researcher and poet Nedra Rodrigo translates the memoir of Thamizhini, former leader in the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). She spent 18 years as a combatant, educator, and for a while, head of the Political Wing’s women’s division. Here she recounts her childhood memories, lays down her thoughts on gender roles and the role of media during war, and her experiences with combat training, political negotiations and diplomacy, and more.

Read more about the book here.

We Defy Augury
By Hélène Cixous; translated by Beverley Bie Brahic
Seagull Books | Rs 499 | 118 pages

Canadian poet and translator Beverley Bie Brahic translates The University of Paris VIII’s emeritus professor of literature Hélène Cixous’ memoir. She takes readers from her Algerian childhood to Bacharach in the Rhineland and the Windows on the World restaurant atop the World Trade Centre in 2000, among others. Readers also encounter literary forebears like Montaigne, Diderot, Proust, and Erich Maria Remarque, among others.

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

– NON-FICTION

The Chipko Movement: A People's History
By Shekhar Pathak; translated by Manisha Chaudhry
Permanent Black | Rs 895 | 390 pages

Translated from the Hindi by Manisha Chaudhry and with an introduction by acclaimed historian Ramachandra Guha is writer Shekhar Pathak’s book, a history of the Chipko Movement. Inaugurated in 1973, it led to major debates on India’s forest policy and sustainable development. The book brings out the diversity of the Movement and focuses on the voices of ‘subaltern’ leaders like Gaura Devi.

Read more about the book here.

Labouring Women: Issues and Challenges in Contemporary India
By Praveen Jha, Avinash Kumar and Yamini Mishra
Orient BlackSwan | Rs 775 | 343 pages

JNU professor Praveen Jha, assistant professor Avinash Kumar, and Amnesty International Director Yamini Mishra examine the issues faced by women workers at the local and national level, including the dichotomy between paid and unpaid work, links between wage changes and policy reform, land rights, and more. It argues that despite a supposed development, the challenges of labouring women have multiplied, with larger working hours and greater reliance on unpaid work.

Read more about the book here.

Life and Culture in Northeast India
By Dipti Bhalla, Shiv Kunal Verma
Mapin Publishing | Rs 2,950 | 260 pages

With over 300 colour photographs, director Dipti Bhalla and writer Shiv Kunal Verma look at the histories, cultures, and landscapes of Northeast India. They detail culture and land, from Assam’s tea plantations to Arunachal Pradesh’s biodiversity and from Nagaland’s martial tribes to Meghalaya’s root bridges, and more. They also show the lives of the diverse peoples of the region, maintaining traditional customs in the face of growing ecological threats.

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

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