This April we bring forth some interesting titles for our readers:
Socioliterary Cultures in South Asia presents seventeen studies on authors, texts, and issues under three sections that represent different secular traditions, imaginative landscapes and realistic configurations. It examines social, political, secular and cultural texts from five South Asian sites—India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka—to represent a larger kaleidoscope of ancient and modern heritages. It appraises personal and collective histories in terms of time, memory, and myth, spells out stages in the formation of canons and identities, and considers the problematic of survival in the maze of ideological formulations in different South Asian locations. Drawing upon a rich variety of verbal and performance texts, the book examines the vitality of authorial imagination, hybrid thought patterns, and indigenous expression. The merit of the book lies in how it develops a larger view of South Asia as a veritable cultural space marked for the richness of its diversity rather than the illusion of its unity.
Imprint: Paper Missile
In this autobiographical fiction, Amrita, stifled within the confines of her invisible cage, unfolds her life story. Being her father’s chattel, a self-sacrificing wife to the man of her parents’ choice, a caring mother to her children, in the process, Amrita loses her identity. To assuage the thirst of her parched soul, she gives in to the passionate advances of an unsuitable lover who entices her into a web of lies and deceit. Unable to bear the pressures of an incompatible marriage and a destructive attachment any longer, she breaks free and flees to the Himalayas. In those lofty reaches she finds a startlingly simple solution to her problems—she has to look inwards for the peace that evaded her; no one else could give her that. Released of the disappointment and humiliation that ‘love’ had spawned, her spirits soar like a bunch of helium balloons—wind-buoyed dancing specks of colour in vast
open skies. Though the narrator-protagonist finds ‘neither sympathy nor understanding’ from the men in her life, with her excellent command over the English language and an innate sense of humour, the author ensures that Amrita finds compassion in the hearts of her readers.
Imprint: Olive Turtle
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/for-the-love-of-a-man
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/the-gardener
‘Mythistory’ emerges when a real event becomes enveloped in mystery, revealing a surreal tale that is not quite fact and not quite fiction. Out of the eclectic mix of Mussoorie’s society have emerged coruscating tales, each a concoction of truth and imagination. When unexplainable events took place and no one had any credible explanation for them, it was mythistory that filled the gap. These stories have been distilled through the minds of a multitude of people, who have all added their own ‘spice’ to these tales. With each retelling, the mythistory of Mussoorie has grown, resulting in the strange pearls found in Mussoorie’s Mythistory.
Imprint: Olive Turtle
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/mussoories-mythistory
The historic Baluchar textiles of Bengal are a testament to a unique weaving tradition. Composed of the finest silk, these textiles were painstakingly woven with intricate figurative and decorative patterns. They represent more than just a textile tradition. They are a window into the socio-cultural set-up of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The transition from Nawabi to colonial rule in Bengal has been beautifully captured through these textiles. This richly illustrated book traces the historical development of Baluchar textiles, especially saris, and the position this art form has come to acquire in the twenty-first century. By dissecting the conditions, inspirations, materials, techniques and aesthetic qualities of this weaving tradition, this book showcases how this art form travelled from Murshidabad to Bishnupur, then to Benares as well as to museums around the world.
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/baluchars
Evocative and crisp, Joginder Paul’s stories in Land Lust offer poignant glimpses of the unequal multiracial relations in colonial Kenya. Translated from the original Urdu, they evoke insightful moments of compassion from within the harsh xenophobic environs. The characters breathe life into the paper and touch the readers not just intellectually; but viscerally. One feels the land, the wildness, the Nature, the people and their hearts’ and minds’ connection with Gaia palpably. Land Lust attracts empathetic attention to divisive follies of race and colour, and progress and development even more pertinent today than earlier. The writer deftly and gently asserts the dignity of the black people by including their voice and predicament in these stories.
Imprint: Olive Turtle
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/land-lust
Asim Mukhopadhyay’s Half Man goes to the very heart of the Naxalite Movement in Bengal, with special emphasis on the infamous Cossipore-Baranagar massacres in north east Calcutta in August 1971. The novel also focuses on the horrifying repression of lakhs of displaced people in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra during the Narmada Bachao Andolan in Gujarat. In the novel, the massacres are witnessed by an innocent village youth of south Bengal, semi-literate but intelligent and wise beyond his years through his experiences, poor but courageous, who is tortured, humiliated, thrown out of his village and chased from one place to another and is ultimately turned into a social activist who realises that the tail of the gecko is not the system. The people are the system. They must be changed, in their way of living, thinking and fighting evil. This is a hard-hitting and brutally honest effort to focus light on India’s teeming millions who are kept forcibly hidden by vested interests.
Imprint: Olive Turtle
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/half-man
Filmmaker Goutam Ghose was part of the Central Asian expedition organised by Major H.P.S. Ahluwalia in 1994, the first of its kind. They undertook an arduous 14,000 km journey through Central Asia, China and Tibet tracing the ancient trade route. Ghose captured this once-in-a-lifetime adventure as a five-part series in his film Beyond the Himalayas (1996). This film book is a pictorial chronicle of Ghose’s incredible experience on the Silk Route. Much of the text is the narration of the original soundtrack of the series which has been adapted for the benefit of book readers. His lens captures breathtaking visuals of a less travelled road. The tapestry of history, travel anecdotes, local legends and titanic characters lend a cinematic quality to the whole narrative. The fabled past and the present are intercut by cinematic jumps in this fascinating record of an enduring memory in the collective consciousness of the history of mankind.
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/beyond-the-himalayas
Kathak: The Dance of Storytellers explores the philosophical and practical aspects of Kathak dance—its origin, development, and techniques.
Investigating this compelling dance style from cultural and historical perspectives, the book delves into the essential principles of Kathak, its schools and major artists, the format of Kathak performance, repertoire, Kathak music, predominant trends in training, and the system of practice through the lens of theory and application.
A rare resource, the text is a comprehensive read for dancers, teachers, and Kathak lovers.
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/kathak
Ami Anupam (I, Anupam) was first published in Bengali in the Sharadiya Ananda Bazaar in 1976. It was the first novel on the Naxal Movement in West Bengal. It came out as a book in 1978. Some prominent intellectuals of West Bengal had played a strange two-faced role in this political movement. They encouraged and led the youth, who put their lives at stake and fought for the cause. However, most of these intellectual leaders failed to take responsibility later on when they were needed the most. Ami Anupam is about one such betrayal. The novel is a sharp depiction of those turbulent times.
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/i-anupam
Friedrich Max Müller (1823–1900), a German-born philologist and Orientalist, was one of the founders of the western academic field of Indian studies and the discipline of comparative religion. Well versed in Sanskrit, the classical language of India, and many other languages, Max Müller was instrumental in translating into English some of the most revered religious and philosophical texts of Asia. Especially noteworthy is his edition of the great collection of Sanskrit hymns of the Rigveda. Intrigued by the concept of religion, Müller initiated an important discipline that he called the ‘science of religion’. He believed that a genuine study of religion required the knowledge of its origins, and recognised that religion had developed differently in different linguistic spheres. So, instead of using the prevailing ethnographic approach, he pursued the science of religion by studying words and texts.
Müller was fascinated by the spiritual teachings of the Indian mystic, Ramakrishna, because, he was of the opinion that ‘the real presence of the Divine… in the human soul was nowhere felt so strongly and so universally as in India’, and that ‘the fervent love of God… has nowhere found a stronger and more eloquent expression than in the utterances of Ramakrishna’.
Hidden away in the remote village of Lepakshi in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh, merely a couple of hours drive from Bengaluru, is one of the most spectacular Vijayanagara temples. Unlike so many other religious monuments of the period that have suffered disfiguring additions, or have lost their original carvings and ceiling paintings, that at Lepakshi dedicated to Virabhadra, a fierce emanation of Shiva, is miraculously intact. Its architecture, sculptures and paintings showcase the finest artistic achievements in southern India during the first half of the sixteenth century.
While the remarkable qualities of Lepakshi have long been recognised, particularly its unique series of ceiling paintings, this volume is the first to provide the temple with a comprehensive description. It is authored by three eminent scholars: George Michell, who has focused on Vijayanagara temple architecture; Anna L. Dallapiccola, who has extensively researched the sculptural and painting traditions of southern India; and Brigitte Khan Majlis, an expert on Indian textile designs and techniques.
Available at: http://niyogibooksindia.com/books/lepakshi