New books on the shelf

Compiled by Dibyajyoti Sarma and Ambika Shaligram
Saturday, 30 December 2017

Here are some highlights about the interesting reads that are going to be released in the new year

Ask fanboys about their most anticipated read in the coming year, chances are they would say it’s George RR Martin’s long-promised next instalments of A Song of Fire and Ice saga, The Winds of Winter. With release dates perpetually being postponed, we have no idea if we will finally get to read the book this year. The same is the story with Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Girl, isn’t it? After the author returned his advances to Penguin Random House, Aleph had announced that it will publish the book. But no sign of it as yet!

But we needn’t worry; we have enough books and some coming up in 2018 to keep us busy. Here are some highlights...

Brave (By HarperCollins)
The world over, 2017 was the year of #metoo. So start 2018 with the memoirs of one of the heroes of the movement, Rose McGowan’s Brave, where the actress and activist chronicles her childhood in a cult and her complicated, painful experiences at the hands of the Hollywood machine.

Not That Bad (By HarperCollins)
In this age of feminist resurgence, another not-to-be-missed book is Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay, where rising and established authors examine the realities of living in a society where men pose the greatest threat to a woman’s safety and well-being.

The Himalayan Arc (By HarperCollins)
Edited by Namita Gokhale, The Himalayan Arc: East of South East focuses on a crucial, enthralling, politically turbulent, yet often underreported part of the Himalayan belt. With over 30 contributors such as Sanjoy Hazarika, Janice Pariat, Prajwal Parajuly, Thomas Bell, Ma Thida, Salil Tripathi, Catherine Anderson and Indira Goswami, it attempts to describe the sense of shared lives and cultural connectivity between the denizens of this area.  

Zakir Hussain: A Life in Music (By HarperCollins)
In conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir, the book will take the reader through the life and times of Zakir Hussain, the early years of growing up in Mahim, his training from age four with his extraordinary father, and how his passion for music helped establish him as a world musician of our age, a huge music star, and for many young Indians today, a revered role model.

The McMahon Line (By HarperCollins)
Sir Henry McMahon, a British colonial administrator, drew a line along the Himalayas at the Simla Convention of 1913-14, demarcating what would in later years become the effective boundary between China and India. The boundary, disputed by India’s northern neighbour, has had a profound effect on the relations between the two Asian giants. 

General JJ Singh — former Indian Army chief and the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh — brings his long years of experience to bear on Sino-Indian relations in The McMahon Line.

Dreamers... (By C Hurst & Co Publishers)
India is a country of young people. This generation lives between extremes: more connected and global than ever, but with narrow ideas of Indian identity; raised with the cultural values of their grandparents, but the life goals of American teenagers. Journalist Snigdha Poonam tracks these young fortune-seekers, aspiring Bollywood stars and clickbait gurus, the Cow Protection Army hoodlums and India’s first female student union president, all united by the belief that they were born for bigger and better things, in Dreamers: How Young Indians are Changing the World.

The Flame (By Canongate)
Leonard Cohen may be gone, but the flame of his memory lives on. Shortly before his passing away in late 2016, Cohen sat down to assemble this collection of previously unpublished poems, called The Flame. Completed just days before his death, the book represents not just a portion of Cohen’s voluminous life’s work, but also a window to the mind of an exceptional artist.

Economics for Political Change: The Collected Works of Manmohan Singh (By Oxford University Press)
The six volumes will focus on bringing together the essays and lectures of Dr Manmohan Singh on — India’s export trends and the prospects for self-sustained growth, trade and development, international economic order and equity in development, economic reforms and speeches/press-conference/interviews during his tenure as the prime minister. Each volume will be introduced by an expert in the field, such as Dr C Rangarajan, Professor K Sundaram, Professor Nicholas Stern with Shantanu Singh and Professor Rudrangshu Mukherjee. 

Tabiyat (By Oxford University Press)
This book is a collection of nine masterly and thought-provoking essays written by noted physician Farokh Erach Udwadia. In Tabiyat he discusses topics of contemporary importance like Ayurveda, medical ethics, medical inventions during wars, nursing and the influence of Florence Nightingale, importance of music in healing and death. 

Why I Killed the Mahatma (By Rupa)
It is common knowledge that Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead in 1948 by Nathuram Godse, shortly after India had both gained her independence and lost nearly a quarter of her territory to the new state of Pakistan. But what’s lesser known is Godse’s motive. Until now, no publication has dealt with this question, except for the naked text of Godse’s own defence speech during his trial. It didn’t save him from the hangman, but still contains substantive arguments against the facile glorification of the Mahatma. Dr Koenraad Elst compares Godse’s case against Gandhi with criticisms voiced in wider circles, and with historical data known at the time or brought to light since. 

Biography of Mohan Bhagwat (By Rupa)
The biography by Kingshuk Nag charts the rise of Mohan Bhagwat as the Sarsanghchalak of the RSS and also understands how far the RSS is likely to evolve to reflect the ground realities of the country under his leadership.

Why I am a Hindu (By Aleph Book Company)
In Why I Am a Hindu, one of India’s finest public intellectuals gives us a profound book about one of the world’s oldest and greatest religions. Starting with a close examination of his own belief in Hinduism, Shashi Tharoor goes far and wide in his study of the faith. 

He explains, in easily accessible language, important aspects and concepts of Hindu philosophy like the Purusharthas and Bhakti, masterfully summarises the lessons of the Gita and Vivekananda’s ecumenism, and explores with sympathy the ‘Hinduism of habit’ practised by ordinary believers.  

Coming out as Dalit: A memoir (By Alpeh Book Company)
Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s tragic suicide in January 2016 started many charged conversations around caste-based discrimination in universities in India. For Yashica Dutt, a journalist living in New York, this was the moment to stop living a lie, and admit something that she had hidden from friends and colleagues for over a decade — that she was Dalit. In this personal memoir that is also a narrative of the Dalits, she writes about the journey of coming to terms with her identity and takes us through the history of the Dalit movement; the consequences of the lack of access to education and culture; the paucity of Dalit voices in mainstream media; and attempts to answer crucial questions about caste and privilege. 

Kashmir: The Biography (By Aleph Book Company)
A Kashmiri political scientist once said to Dr Radha Kumar, the author of the book: “You cannot discuss Kashmir, or the Kashmir conflict, without starting with history.” In this way begins Radha Kumar’s Kashmir: The Biography, a book that attempts to give the reader a deep yet accessible look at perhaps the most troubled part of India. Beginning with references to Kashmir as ‘a sacred geography’ in the Puranas, Kumar’s account covers a lot of ground as it seeks to grapple with the seemingly intractable issues that have turned the state into a battleground for decades. 

My Kashmir ( By Aleph Book Company)
Omar Abdullah’s first book, part memoir, part history and part analysis of the various problems that have beset Jammu and Kashmir in the decades since Independence, will be one of the most important works to be published about the beautiful and troubled state that was born in fire and blood. My Kashmir will not only offer the reader unprecedented clarity about the situation in Kashmir today, it will also offer rare insights into Kashmiri politics and the Abdullah family that has played a prominent part in shaping the discourse on the region.


Battle with the bottle
Actress-filmmaker Pooja Bhatt is publishing a book (co-written with Roshmila Bhattacharya) about her battle with alcohol. Not an autobiography, but it’s Pooja’s attempt to help others like her to deal with their problem by talking about her journey. 

About JP
The 2018 will also see the launch of the first ever mainstream and comprehensive  biography of Jayaprakash Narayan by his trusted aide, scholar and former ambassador to Nepal, Bimal Prasad. His daughter, Sujata Prasad, is co-authoring it.

Dr Dabholkar and his work
Two of the most important works of anti-superstition activist, Dr Narendra Dabholkar, exploring what science is, what superstition is, the extent of its prevalence in India among various religions, and the tireless work done by his NGO to eradicate it, will be made available to English readers for the first time. 

The fiction highlight of 2018 is going to be renowned singer Shubha Mudgal’s irreverent short stories set in the Indian music world. We are also excited about the translation of Urdu novelist Mirza Athar Baig’s enormously inventive and ambitious Hassan’s State of Affairs; debut novels by New-Zealand based Indian writer Rijula Das, Bangladeshi writers Numair Choudhury and Nadeem Zaman and Pakistani American writers Nadia Akbar and Zarrar Said; and award-winning writer Shandana Minhas’s novella Rafina.
— Kanishka Gupta 
Book Agent, Writer’s Side 
(These are the Writer’s Side titles)

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