by Amitava Kumar
About the book: It is not only the past that lies in ruins in Patna, it is also the present. But that is not the only truth about the city that Amitava Kumar explores in this vivid, entertaining account of his hometown. We accompany him through many Patnas, the myriad cities locked within the city—the shabby reality of the present-day capital of Bihar; Pataliputra, the storied city of emperors; the dreamlike embodiment of the city in the minds and hearts of those who have escaped contemporary Patna's confines. Full of fascinating observations and impressions, A Matter of Rats reveals a challenging and enduring city that exerts a lasting pull on all those who drift into its orbit. Kumar's ruminations on one of the world's oldest cities, the capital of India's poorest province, are also a meditation on how to write about place. His memory is partial. All he has going for him is his attentiveness. He carefully observes everything that surrounds him in Patna: rats and poets, artists and politicians, a girl's picture in a historian's study, and a sheet of paper on his mother's desk. The result is this unique book, as cutting as it is honest.
Notes: For my yearly challenge, I decided to pick this book as a biography of Patna, Bihar.
by Kamala Das
About the book: It Is The Second World War And Kamala And Her Brother Are Removed From Their Parents Home In Calcutta To The Safer Environs Of Their Village In Northern Kerala. At Once An Outsider And An Integral Part Of Her Ancestral Home, Kamala Struggles To Fathom The Intricacies Of Class, Caste And Language. But Surrounded By People Like Her Adoring Ammamma, The Servant Sankaran Who Promises To Teach Her The Crow-Language, And Valli Who Tells Her Stories Of Yakshis Whose Breasts Are As Big As Jackfruits, Kamala Soon Discovers The Joys Of Growing Up As The Centre Of Everyone S Universe. As Calcutta Fades From Her Mind Like An Old Dream, While The Thudding Of The Drums At The Para Festival, The Roar Of The Velichappadu As He Becomes Possessed And The Songs Of The Parayankaali Dancers Become Absolute Realities Of Life.