Out of Syllabus

April 15, 2019

‘“Every relationship is a long-distance relationship,” we read in one of Sumana Roy’s intriguing new poems. Out of Syllabus brilliantly anatomizes those relationships, viewing them from every disciplinary perspective: chemistry, physics, biology, geography, history, botany—and finally art. The result is a dazzling dissection of love, longing, and loss in all their conflicting moods and moments. Roy’s images and metaphors are as enigmatic as they are precise. However private and personal her subjects, Roy maintains an aesthetic distance, wit and verbal control that recalls Sylvia Plath—but a Plath less angry, wiser—even philosophical. This is a very special book—one that deserves a wide readership.’
—Marjorie Perloff, Emeritus Professor, Stanford University

‘Sumana Roy’s wonderful book of poems, Out of Syllabus, combines rational ordering with the “unreason” of striking figures of speech. The rational ordering lies in the naming of sections as items in a comprehensive syllabus: “History”, “Chemistry”, “Physics” and so on. The striking figures of speech are everywhere in these poems. They give “out” in the book’s title a negative as well as a positive meaning. These metaphors are often coupled to what they figure by way of a key word in Out of Syllabus: “is.” But you must read these powerful and challenging poems for yourself, dear reader, to get a feeling for what they are like and for what they mean as unique poetic experiences.’
—J. Hillis Miller, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, University of California at Irvine

The Fate of Butterflies

January 29, 2019

This title will be available by 15 Feb 2019.

Prabhakar, returning home one evening, comes upon a corpse at a crossroads, naked but for the skullcap on his head. Days later, he listens to Katerina’s stark retelling of a gang rape in a village, as chilling as only the account of a victim can be. And in a macabre sequence, he finds his favourite dhaba no longer serves gular kebabs and rumali roti, while Bonjour, the fine dining restaurant run by a gay couple, has been vandalised by goons.
Casting a long shadow over it all is Mirajkar, the ‘Master Mind’, brilliant policy maker and political theorist, who is determined to rid the country of all elements alien to its culture—as he, and his partymen, perceive it.
A professor of political science, Prabhakar observes these occurrences with deepening concern. Is the theory he put forth in his book—that it is not the influence of those who preach goodness and compassion that prevails, but the matter-offactness of cruelty—playing out before him?
In the midst of all this, he meets Katerina, beautiful, half-Russian, wearing the scars of a brutal incident as a badge of honour. Together, they discover that, even in times that are grim, there is joy to be had.

Our Start-up Affair

January 29, 2019

Aditi Pillai is an entrepreneur—part-owner of the Snack Team, a food start-up. Sitting in her shared cab one day, in Bangalore’s gridlocked traffic, she suddenly notices that her cab driver is extraordinarily good-looking. Turns out he is Aditya Shenoy, owner of cab aggregator start-up Caboyea.
And so starts a whirlwind romance between Aditi and Aditya. While she negotiates deadlines, irate clients and tries to have a fun time of it, he battles big-name competitors and driver integrity, all the while trying to get out of the long shadow cast by his flamboyant—and notorious—tycoon father. But as their romance gets more and more serious, they need to start talking about the big C word— commitment.
Will this Bangalore start-up affair take off and take wings, or will it crash and burn? Weaving its way through the lanes and bylanes of Bangalore, India’s start-up capital, Our Start-up Affair is a funny, hip, romantic story that will warm every reader’s heart.

The Teenage Diary of Nur Jahan

January 28, 2019

This title will be available by 15 Feb 2019.

Long before she became Nur Jahan—Emperor Jahangir’s last wife and the most influential Mughal queen—she was Mehr-un-nissa. Born to Persian refugees who attained eminence at the Mughal court, Mehr-un-nissa grew up on the fringes of Emperor Akbar’s court in Agra, Kabul and Lahore.
In this fictional diary, Deepa Agarwal gives us a glimpse into the queen’s teenage years: how she grows into a strong and passionate young woman; her love for poetry and writing; and her interest in the larger world around her. Her diary also describes the Mughal world through the eyes of a young girl: the vibrant Meena Bazaars; the elaborate festival celebrations; and the intricacies of life in the zenana. But above all, her diary records her ambition to meet the love of her life and also to carve a place for herself in history.

Nimmi’s Dreadtastic Detective Days

December 29, 2018

Nimmi Daruwala is back to school after a week of absence, thanks to some awful green-coloured jelly she ate, and it’s time for a dreadful+fantastic=dreadtastic adventure! While Nimmi was away, Principal Bakshi had two new ideas: beanbags for each class, and Cookaroo, a cooking competition in the school. But the beanbags in Nimmi’s class have burst and no one knows who did it; and Nimmi can only just about boil an egg. To top it all, Ms Atmaja is as ghastly as ever; and Sophia is now part of mean girl Alisha Dubash’s Evil Threevils. But Nimmi finds unlikely friends by her side in the class nerds Diya and Kavya;and a cooking partner in the mysterious new student from America, Kabir.
Will Nimmi and Kabir be able to present a decent dish at Cookaroo? And more importantly, will Nimmi be able to fulfil her ambition of becoming a detective and crack the case of the burst beanbag? Full of twists and turns Nimmi’s Dreadtastic Detective Days is so funny that it will have you guffawing+chortling=gaffortling

Obsession & Wild Pigeons

December 28, 2018

In the two bold and gripping novellas brought together in this volume, the inimitable Ismat Chughtai writes of subversive women—subversive in unexpected ways—as they experience romantic and sexual desire, defy societal restrictions, struggle, scheme and sometimes court tragedy.

Obsession (Saudai), deals with one of Chughtai’s favourite themes, the ‘master-servant’ romance—in this case, two brothers, sons of a feudal household, in love with the same orphan girl. And Wild Pigeons (Jungli Kabutar)—based on the experiences of a famous Bollywood personality—probes the theme of infidelity, dissecting the emotions not only of the partner who is betrayed but also the one who betrays. In Chandni and Abida, the main protagonists of the novellas, Chughtai gives us two of the strongest women in Indian fiction—clever, self-willed, flawed and, in the end, far braver than the men in their lives.

My Father’s Garden

November 30, 2018

Spanning half a life, My Father’s Garden tells the story of a young doctor—the unnamed narrator—as he negotiates love and sexuality, his need for companionship, and the burdens of memory and familial expectation.

The opening section, ‘Lover’, finds him studying medicine in Jamshedpur. At college, he discovers an all-consuming passion for Samir, a junior, who possesses his body, mind and heart. Yet, on their last morning together, when he asks Samir to kiss him goodbye, his lover tells him, ‘A kiss is only for someone special.’

In ‘Friend’, the young doctor, escaping heartbreak, finds relief in Pakur where he strikes up an unusual friendship with Bada Babu, the head clerk of the hospital where he is posted. In Bada Babu’s house, they indulge a shared love for drink, delicious food and convivial company. But when government bulldozers arrive to tear down the neighbourhood, and Bada Babu’s house, the young doctor uncovers a sordid tale of apathy and exploitation—and a side to his new friend that leaves him disillusioned.

And in ‘Father’, unable, ultimately, to flee the pain, the young doctor takes refuge in his parents’ home in Ghatsila. As he heals, he reflects on his father—once a vital man who had phenomenal success at work and in Adivasi politics, then an equally precipitous downfall—and wonders if his obsessive gardening has anything to do with the choices his son has made.

Written with deep empathy and searing emotional intensity, and in the clear, unaffected prose that is the hallmark of Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s style, My Father’s Garden marks a major talent of Indian fiction writing at the top of his form.

A Patchwork Family

November 30, 2018

Young and idealistic, Janaki is eager to serve the cause of justice as a lawyer. Her only confidant is Ajoba, an elderly friend of her grandfather’s, who supported her throughout her childhood. They are unrelated by blood or marriage ties, but they have both lost their own families. So together, they struggle to create a family, patched together perhaps, but stronger for it.

As this gripping novel unfolds, the two characters in turn tell the traumatic story of how they came together: how Janaki being the eyewitness to a gruesome crime led to years of court cases and police investigations; the toll it took on the members of her immediate family; the ways in which Ajoba and Janaki each overcome their immediate prejudices to connect with each other; and the impact of the judicial system’s vagaries on each of their worldviews. Written in spare, unadorned and confident prose, A Patchwork Family is a debut novel of unusual wisdom and maturity.

Great Jataka Tales

November 30, 2018

In a small forest, a hare convinces his friends—a monkey, a jackal and a water-weasel—to share their food with the hungry. But when the hare finds nothing to eat, and a fairy disguised as an old man comes asking for food, what does the hare do?

The king of monkeys asks his tribe to keep the delicious mangoes in their forest a secret from humans. But what happens when Brahmadatta, the king of humans, discovers the fruit and wants more of it?

A king spots the mysterious and beautiful deer, Sarabha, deep in the woods. He wishes to capture it but falls into a deep chasm on the way. Will Sarabha rescue him?

The twenty stories in Great Jataka Tales, retold by the remarkable writer Noor Inayat Khan, have been drawn from the Buddha’s former lives and the legends around him. These tales bring alive a world from long, long ago: a world that shows the importance of courage, compassion, non-violence and love. Written in simple, dramatic prose and beautifully illustrated in full colour, these magical stories will enchant a new generation of readers.

The Heart Breaks Free & The Wild One

November 30, 2018

In The Heart Breaks Free, set in pre-Independence UP, Bua, a free-spirited woman in a conservative Muslim household, is goaded into submission by the women in the family. But even as Bua surrenders to the forces of circumstance, Qudsia Apa, an uncomplaining abandoned wife, stuns everyone by transforming into a rebel. She rejects the life of celibacy and denial forced upon her and picks her own life partner, showing future generations the value and pleasure of subversion.

The Wild One is the love story of a servant girl, Asha, and her ‘master’, Puran, in a feudal household where such a relationship can only be a horror and a tragedy unless it is conducted in secret and quickly forgotten. Yet, when Puran can’t muster the strength to defy his class, it is gutsy Asha who manages to beat the odds and win him for herself.

Provocative, witty and intensely human as always, Chughtai delivers in these novellas scathing critiques of the cant and hypocrisy of Indian society.

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