Books of the week: From Sudhanva Deshpande's Halla Bol to Jyoti Gulati Balachandran’s Narrative Pasts, 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.


 Books of the week: From Sudhanva Deshpandes Halla Bol to Jyoti Gulati Balachandran’s Narrative Pasts, our picks


The Yellow Bird Sings
By Jennifer Rosner
Pan Macmillan India | Rs 699 | 304 pages

Writer Jennifer Rosner’s debut novel tells the story of Roza and her five-year-old daughter Shira, who are forced into hiding in Poland in 1941 during World War II. While they have to stay quiet, only the yellow bird of her mother’s stories can sing the songs Shira has composed in her head. They also play silent games and invent their sign language. But when their safe haven is threatened, Roza must decide if it’s better to keep her daughter by her side or let her go as a way of giving her a chance to survive.

Read more about the book here.


Halla Bol: The Death and Life of Safdar Hashmi
By Sudhanva Deshpande
LeftWord Books | Rs 350 | 264 pages

Theatre director and actor Sudhanva Deshpande tells the life story of playwright and actor Safdar Hashmi. On New Years’ Day in 1989, Janam, the theatre group of which Hashmi was a part, was attacked while they performed, and he died. Beginning with that attack, the book throws light on the man as an artist, comrade, activist, and more. It also shows how his life and death are intertwined with the stories of numerous other people. An English translation of Halla Bol, the play Janam was performing when attacked, is included in the appendix.

Read more about the book here.

Railway Man: An Engineer’s Memoir
By RR Jaruhar
Rupa Publications | Rs 695 | 416 pages

Civil engineer RR Jaruhar recounts his life and 39-year-long career in India’s railways. Filled with anecdotes, he recalls adventures of surviving dacoits, tough union leaders, and tigers. (In one instance, he convinced dacoits to abstain from violence and instead join as stakeholders in the Gandak rail bridge construction.) He also discusses some of the Indian railways’ milestones, including the dramatic turnaround between 2005 and 2007.

Read more about the book here.


Gaining Ground: The Changing Contours of Feminist Organising in Post-1990s India
By Sadhna Arya
Women Unlimited | Rs 650 | 273 pages

Researcher Sadhna Arya’s book looks at how the Indian women’s movement has been forced to confront gaps in its struggle over the past three decades following the 1990s, which were a turning point for the movement. Old issues were further complicated by new challenges, affecting mobilising strategies. The book traces how women have since organised around specific identities and their concerns, including Muslims, Dalits, sex workers, and the differently-abled.

Read more about the book here.

Narrative Pasts: The Making of a Muslim Community in Gujarat, c. 1400 – 1650
By Jyoti Gulati Balachandran
OUP India | Rs 1,295 | 248 pages

Historian and Assistant Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University, Jyoti Gulati Balachandran’s book explores the narrative power of texts in creating communities. Through looking at historical and biographical texts, she traces the Muslim community’s social history in Gujarat. Through reconstructing the world of Sufi preceptors and disciples, the book highlights the role of learned Muslim men in imparting to Gujarat a historical identity. It also discusses how the community was shaped through textual redefinition.

Read more about the book here.


Birds in Your Backyard and Beyond
By Kaustubh Srikanth
Red Panda | Rs 157 | 100 pages

Wildlife biologist Kaustubh Srikanth’s book is a guide for children to learn about birds and bird spotting. It answers questions like what a bird’s songs mean, how birds get their colours, why they have feathers, why all of them can’t fly, and more. The text is aided by illustrations, interactive activities, and trivia about birds.


Flight of the Arconaut
By Sophia Khan
Context | Rs 315 | 501 pages

The first part of writer Sophia Khan’s fantasy Atlantis trilogy follows Nyx Cormorant, living on the isolated island capital Atlantis, shielded from the harsh reality of a declining Empire. Her dream of becoming the greatest arconaut in the Empire seem close until she’s pitted against Brigadier Omar B Prendergast. As he charms all of Atlantis, Nyx must unmask him for who he is, before everything she holds dear is destroyed.

Updated Date: Apr 06, 2020 10:18:07 IST

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