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 Mayank Austen Soofi
About the book: The sex workers of Kotha no. 300 raise their children, cook for their lovers, visti temples, shrines and mosques, complain about pimps and kotha owners, listen to film songs, and solicit and entertain customers. By following the daily lives of the denizens of one kotha, Mayank Austen Soofi paints an intimate portrait of women for whom sex is work - a way to make a living. With precise details and haunting photographs, Soofi delicately and carefully etches the everyday world of those who inhabit the peripheries of society.
Notes: From Delhi.
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.
by Vivek Shanbhag
About the book: "A wise and skillfull book." —Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal"Within the tight confines of a hundred pages or so, Shanbhag presents as densely layered a social vision of Bangalore as Edith Wharton did of New York in The House of Mirth...He's one of those special writers who can bring a fully realized world to life in a few pages." —Maureen Corrigan, NPR"One of the best novels to have come out of India in recent decades." —Pankaj Mishra A young man's close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle founds a successful spice company, changing their fortunes overnight. As they move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a larger house on the other side of Bangalore, and try to adjust to a new way of life, the family dynamic begins to shift. Allegiances realign; marriages are arranged and begin to falter; and conflict brews ominously in the background. Things become “ghachar ghochar”—a nonsense phrase uttered by one meaning something tangled beyond repair, a knot that can't be untied. Elegantly written and punctuated by moments of unexpected warmth and humor, Ghachar Ghochar is a quietly enthralling, deeply unsettling novel about the shifting meanings—and consequences—of financial gain in contemporary India.Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary AwardOne of the BBC's "10 Books You Should Read in February"One of Publishers Weekly's "Writers to Watch Spring 2017"One of the NewYorker.com contributors' "Books We Loved in 2016"