Books of the week: From Vinu Abraham's The Lost Heroine to Mark Gevisser’s The Pink Line, our picks

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

Aarushi Agrawal August 23, 2020 10:35:13 IST
Books of the week: From Vinu Abraham's The Lost Heroine to Mark Gevisser’s The Pink Line, 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 Lost Heroine
By Vinu Abraham; translated by CS Venkiteswaran and Arathy Ashok
Speaking Tiger | Rs 299 | 176 pages

Translated from the Malayalam by CS Venkiteswaran and Arathy Ashok, author Vinu Abraham’s novel depicts the tragic life of Malayalam cinema’s heroine PK Rosy. Growing up in Kerala, Rosy had never been to the cinema, and jumps at the opportunity of acting in the movie Vighathakumaran (The Lost Child). Soon this Dalit Christian girl is transformed into the character Sarojini. But when the film is screened, the audience is shocked and horrified, and she barely escapes death, living the rest of her life in anonymity.

Read more about the book here.

Passage to the Plaza
By Sahar Khalifeh; translated by Sawad Hussain
Seagull Books | Rs 699 | 224 pages

Award-winning Palestinian author Sahar Khalifeh’s book is set in Bab Al-Saha, a house of ill-repute in Palestine. There lives Nuzha, a young woman who has been ostracised from her community. When the 1987 Intifada breaks out, her home becomes an unexpected abode for various characters, from the injured resistance fighter Hussam to researcher Samar, who’s exploring the Intifada’s impact on the lives of women, and midwife Sitt Zakia.

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

Victory Colony, 1950
By Bhaswati Ghosh
Yoda Press | Rs 499 | 292 pages

Writer and translator Bhaswati Ghosh’s debut novel follows Amala Manna, who in 1949 has just crossed over to India from East Pakistan, and soon loses her younger brother Kartik. She makes her way to a refugee camp, looking for Kartik and forging bonds with strangers. As official support dwindles and the camp situation deteriorates, the refugees take matters into their own hands, occupying a zamindar’s vacant plot of land and establishing Bijoy Nagar, meaning Victory Colony.

Read more about the book here.

– NON-FICTION

The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World's Queer Frontiers
By Mark Gevisser
HarperCollins India | Rs 699 | 568 pages

Writer Mark Gevisser’s book tells the story of how LGBTQ+ rights have become important human rights during the second decade of the 21st century. It shares intimate stories about how the world has changed, ranging from stories about South African refugees to activists in Egypt, and from Russian transgender women to Tamil Nadu’s pen manaam konda aan (women’s hearts in men’s bodies). But while celebrating success stories, the book also focuses on the other extreme where parts of the world seek to criminalise homosexuality and gender non-conformity.

Read more about the book here.

Every Creature Has a Story: What Science Reveals about Animal Behaviour
By Janaki Lenin
HarperCollins India | Rs 599 | 296 pages

Journalist Janaki Lenin’s book focuses on the variety of lifeforms around us and the different features and skills they have developed over millennia. Female nightingales choose a mate by listening to their song. Glass frogs pee on their eggs. Spiders salivate during sex. Elephants develop immunity to cancer. Based on recent research, her book opens up the fascinating behaviours and peculiarities of the natural world.

Read more about the book here. Read an interview with the author here.

Turmeric Nation: A Passage Through India’s Tastes
Edited by Shylashri Shankar
Speaking Tiger | Rs 499 | 336 pages

Edited by author and senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, Shylashri Shankar, the book is a collection of essays that seek to understand what ‘Indian’ food is, how it can be classified by region, religion, or ritual, the concept of a collective self when it comes to cuisine, and more. It discusses myriad topics, from the Dalit ‘haldiya dal’ to Buddha’s last meal, and from the use of food as a means of state control to the role of lemonade in the 19th century Bengal rebellion.

Read more about the book here.

The Citizenship Debate: CAA & NRC
By Amit Malviya, Salman Khurshid
Rupa Publications | Rs 295 | 200 pages

In this book, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya and Congress leader and lawyer Salman Khurshid present two sides of the recent citizenship debate that followed after the Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 amid nationwide protests. They delve into the history and politics of the debate, with one side considering apprehensions a misreading of the Act and the other side seeing it as non-secular.

Read more about the book here.

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