Books

Literary reviews , interviews and other features.

Home of horrors

Joe Sacco and Chris Hedges combine efforts to draw a poignant, disturbing picture of post-capitalist America ♦ Black and white truth has little place in the slippery grey of liberal opinion. Poverty porn or slum tourism are easy dismissals of writing on the human fallout of consumer capitalism. And plenty of people make a fetish …

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The Hired Man

Aminatta Forna travels to Croatia for her fourth novel ♦ In her fourth book, Aminatta Forna ventures out of Sierra Leone and Africa, the setting for her previous titles (including the Commonwealth Writer’s Prizewinning The Memory of Love). Set in a small town at the foot of the mountains in Croatia, The Hired Man, like Forna’s …

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Portrait of a lady

The last century of Mughal rule comes to life in The Mirror of Beauty, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s compelling picture of Delhi and its wider world ♦    View as PDF Beloved of poets and coveted by kings, conquered and constructed again and again, Delhi in its present avatar is a tough city to love. Yet many …

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Hats and Doctors

Daisy Rockwell’s translation of the late Upendranath Ashk ♦ Daisy Rockwell’s translation of Hindi-Urdu writer Upendranath Ashk’s short stories is more of a teaser than a complete introduction to the Jalandhar-born author. Rockwell, who also edited the collection, had the fortune to meet Ashk a year before he died in Allahabad in 1996. She admiringly characterises …

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Going off script

A cross-border blog spreads the word of South Asian literature ♦ In India, Pakistani writers in English are considered common property. Their books are often published here first, and writers like Mohammed Hanif, Mohsin Hamid, Kamila Shamsie and Nadeem Aslam frequent our literary festivals. But when it comes to contemporary Hindi or Urdu fiction crossing the …

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Epic tale

Raavan Chhaya is iPad myth lit ♦ Indian epics cast a long shadow into popular culture, but it’s safe to say they could never have been described as “trending” before now. Every other day, a new fantasy series, comic or film inspired by the Rama-yana or the Mahabharata finds space on a the shelf or screen …

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Cracks in the pavement

Setting out to rediscover Calcutta, Amit Chaudhuri rejuvenates the genre of city writing ♦ Cities have been the incubators of literature since at least the time of Plato in Athens, or of Kabir in Kashi. In turn, they have also played muse, inspiring an entire metropolis of fiction and non-fiction that attempts to describe them. …

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Unclaimed Terrain

Ajay Navaria’s stories deal with the new customs of caste ♦ A tea cup, a clogged toilet, a pair of old gym shoes; these innocuous objects are transformed into loaded signifiers of caste in a new collection of short stories by Jamia Millia professor and writer Ajay Navaria. These concrete details and objects anchor the …

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News flashback

Anuja Chauhan’s third romantic comedy is set in Delhi of the 1980s ♦ A tall, dark and distinctively handsome journalist with a conscience meets a beautiful, intelligent “DeshDarpan” newsreader with four sisters, a house on Hailey Road and a distinctive mole on her chin. Delhi in the 1980s and India’ widening mediascape are the backdrop of …

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