Books

Literary reviews , interviews and other features.

The Book of Waswo

The new miniatures from the studio of Waswo X. Waswo are as captivating as his latest photobook. ♦ Originally published in India Today. Nearly two decades ago, when Waswo X. Waswo was travelling in Pushkar, a group of camel herders started referring to him as “Chacha”. “The name just stuck,” the artist tells me in …

The Book of Waswo Read More »

Floods and Streams of Anarchy

William Dalrymple discusses his new book on the rise of the East India Company ♦ Originally published in Mumbai Mirror.  “At the dawn of the nineteenth century all seemed dark; the stars were paling, and it was not by any means plain what the day was likely to be,” wrote orientalist historian HG Keene in …

Floods and Streams of Anarchy Read More »

The Writer’s Endurance Test

Book Review ♦ The Assassination of Indira Gandhi: The Collected Stories of Upamanyu Chatterjee, Volume I Originally published in India Today. From the ‘hazaar fucked’ slang of English, August through six subsequent novels and a novella, linguistic playfulness has always been a central feature of Upamanyu Chatterjee’s style, enamouring as many readers as it puts …

The Writer’s Endurance Test Read More »

A Deadly Cocktail in Delhi

Book Review: Killing Time in Delhi ♦By Ravi Shankar Etteth A certain kind of book predictably gets described as a “heady cocktail” of sex, drugs, crime and money. Killing Time In Delhi is such a book. As with other quaffable novels that suggest endless parties and rapid repartee, high-polish beauties and dark underbellies, Killing Time is about society’s upper …

A Deadly Cocktail in Delhi Read More »

Gossip Folks

From feuding queens to rebel sultans, the dead are alive in Manu Pillai’s books. ♦ Originally published on VICE India. When Manu S. Pillai (“the S is important”) and I sat down to talk, gossip was at the top of the table. We were at a mutual friend’s apartment, our chat getting progressively boozy as …

Gossip Folks Read More »

Fathers, Sons and Motherlands

Book Review: South Haven ♦By Hirsh SawhneyHarperCollins Publishers India, 2016 When the Babri Masjid was demolished, I was about the same age as Siddharth Arora, the preteen protagonist of Hirsh Sawhney’s debut novel. Like him, I was a first generation Indian American, growing up in an east coast suburb; like him, the news reached me …

Fathers, Sons and Motherlands Read More »

The Angst of Being a Modern Indian

The Cosmopolitans ♦Anjum HasanPenguin India, 309 pages, Rs 499. “Being a modern Indian is hard work,” a former king tells Qayanaat, the protagonist of Anjum Hasan’s The Cosmopolitans. If this is true for the King, the dispossessed monarch of fictional, small-town Simhal, it’s certainly so for Qayanaat, a 53-year-old single woman who lives in Bengaluru, subsisting …

The Angst of Being a Modern Indian Read More »

Crash of Civilisations

City of Spies ♦ By Sorayya Khan Aleph Book Company, New Delhi, 2015, 239 pp., Rs 295 (PB) ISBN 978-93-83064-78-6 Pakistan was scorchingly hot during the summer of 1977, the narrator of City of Spies recalls: “the newspapers were filled with worry that rain might never come”. And the persistent Cold War chill in relations between the United States of America and the Soviet Union only …

Crash of Civilisations Read More »