Nomad’s Land

October 12, 2020

Shanna and Pema, two girls growing up in a big city, meet at their new school. They come from displaced communities—people who had to flee their land to escape persecution. Shanna is a Kashmiri Pandit, and Pema comes from a nomadic tribe whose people called the high mountains beyond India their home.

Shanna is dealing with the aftermath of a violent act that has forever changed her life. Pema was born in the city, but all around her are people who cling to the old customs.

As Shanna and Pema become friends, they get to understand their own and each other’s stories. They discover new wells of strength within themselves and start to deal with the sadness and confusion of the adults around them. But when they embark on a plan that is as brave as it is audacious, will the forces of history allow them to succeed?

Searing and tender, Nomad’s Land talks about the effects of terrorism and displacement, and about the healing powers of hope, friendship and reconciliation.

Waiting For The Dust To Settle

October 12, 2020

Ten-year-old Rakovei watches the army convoy rushing daily past his house in Senapati town and dreams of the day when he too will be a soldier. It is only when tragedy strikes his family that he comes to see the truth behind the glamour of military uniforms…

Set in Manipur during the 1980s and 90s, this novel follows the shared destinies of Rakovei and his family and community. Life is peaceful in the Naga villages around Senapati, until the spring of 1987, when cadres of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) attack the Assam Rifles outpost at Oinam Hill, and brutal retaliation follows—codenamed Operation Bluebird. Village after village is occupied, and young Rakovei, visiting his native village of Phyamaichi, witnesses the horror—ordinary men and women tortured and executed; homes and shops ransacked and burnt down. Deep disillusionment sets in as Rakovei begins to understand how his people suffer, caught in the war between the Indian Army and the Naga underground. The only chance of even basic security seems to lie far away, in the ‘mainland’, but it comes with the dark shadows of prejudice and racism.

Waiting for the Dust to Settle provides a poignant, often searing, glimpse into the realities of life for ordinary Nagas in the turbulent final decades of the twentieth century, even as it chronicles with great sensitivity the resilience of these men and women caught between hope and despair.

The Curse

October 12, 2020

Breathtaking stories about women and the worlds they inhabit by one of India’s finest writers.

In The Curse, acclaimed author and poet Salma blasts through the artifice of genre and language to reveal the messy, violent, vulnerable and sometimes beautiful realities of being a woman in deeply patriarchal societies. Loosely rooted in the rural Muslim communities of Tamil Nadu, these stories shine a light on the complex dramas governing the daily lives of most women moving through the world.

In the title story, a young spinster is caught between her desire for marriage and a dark family history that haunts her like a curse. In ‘Toilets’ a woman recounts in stunning, visceral detail how access to the most basic human space has been regulated by trauma, shame and the male gaze. In ‘The Orbit of Confusion’ a daughter writes a heartbreaking letter, struggling to come to terms with her anger and love for the woman who raised her.

In these and five other emotionally charged stories that are at times humorous, even spooky, Salma crafts exquisite and contradictory inner worlds like Alice Munro with the playfulness and spirit of Ismat Chughtai—in a voice that is entirely her own. Available together for the first time in English—in a lively, nimble translation by Kalyan Raman—these stories will grab you by the throat and leave you fundamentally changed.

The Adventures of Goopy the Singer and Bagha the Drummer

October 12, 2020

Goopy Gyne and Bagha Byne have both been banished from their villages for being horrible musicians. They happen to meet each other and become good friends. When they decide to play their music in a thick and scary forest one night, they are heard by the ghosts who live there. The ghosts love their music and the King of Ghosts grants them three boons. With these boons, Goopy and Bagha set out to perform for the king of the land, and earn laurels. But when they scare the king by appearing suddenly in his room, they themselves are accused of being ghosts and locked away.

Will Goopy and Bagha be able to escape and do what they love the best—play music for everyone? Will they stop the kingdoms of Halla and Shundi from going to war? And how many sweets and how much pulao will they eat while they do so?

Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury’s well-loved and hilarious story of friendship, music and magic now appears in a delightful new translation along with beautiful illustrations. Read on for descriptions of pots of food and escapades that will keep you laughing till the last page.

Mistress of Melodies

October 12, 2020

‘When did you enter this profession?’ he asks her.

‘What’s the use of asking such questions? Do you wish to become another Devdas?’

In Mistress of Melodies, Nabendu Ghosh traverses the streets of the ever-changing city of Calcutta to tell the stories of women—courtesans and those who engaged in sex-work—across generations. There is the innocent Chhaya, a widow who elopes and remarries only to be duped by her new husband. The gritty Basana, who sees the highs and lows of life after being drawn into prostitution as an adolescent. Hasina, the alluring baiji, who auctions her adolescent daughter’s virginity to the highest bidder and lives to regret it. The fierce Tagar who is abandoned when pregnant and is drawn into the world of prostitution, but leaves it to give love another chance. Fatima, a brave mother, who would rather sell her body than let hunger drive her and her son to their deaths. And finally, Gauhar Jaan, the songstress who enchants every man she meets but yearns for a true love who will accept her for who she is.

Poignant, evocative and intensely human, Mistress of Melodies features some of the strongest women in Indian fiction created by Nabendu Ghosh, the legendary screenwriter who scripted immortal classics such as Abhimaan, Devdas and Bandini, among others.

Nimmi: A Box of Fun

September 11, 2020

Eleven-year-old Nimmi Daruwala does not like her last name at all; but loves inventing utterly unusual words. Her best friend Sophia is now part of mean girl Alisha Dubash’s Evil Threevils, and the new drama teacher Miss Aatmaja has branded her the Troublemaker of Grade 6! But she finds unlikely friends by her side in the class nerds Diya and Kavya and the mysterious new student from America, Kabir. Join Nimmi as she gets into all sorts of adventures that will leave you guffawing+chortling=gaffortling.

Nimmi’s Spectabulous Schooldays: Will Grade 6 be as spectacular+fabulous=spectabulous as Nimmi thinks it will be?

Nimmi’s Dreadtastic Detective Days: Time for Nimmi to have a dreadful+fantastic=dreadtastic adventure as she learns to cook and solves a very mysterious mystery!

Nimmi’s Bizuper Birthday: A bizarre+super=bizuper twelfth birthday awaits Nimmi!

Bride of the Forest: The Untold Story of Yayati’s Daughter

September 11, 2020

The myth of Drishadvati appears in the Mahabharata as the ‘story of the salvation of kings by a maiden’. While tales of surrogacy abound in the Indian epics, this is the first known example of a womb-on-rent. This strange story—of a girl whose fertility was bartered repeatedly in exchange for priceless horses—has intrigued modern scholars, playwrights and authors for its cultural significance. While earlier adaptations have cast its theme as the exploitation of a helpless woman, Bride of the Forest presents it as the story of girl who is surprisingly radical in her ultimate rejection of patriarchy.

Staying true to the original myths and springing entirely from the world of the Mahabharata, the novel brings to life several other characters: Garuda, the divine bird who flies Lord Vishnu around the world: the proud kings of Ayodhya, Pratisthan and Kashi; the arrogant queen, Devayani, and her duplicitous maid—whose stories reveal an intricate tapestry of human and divine relationships. Intertwined in the tales of traditional rivalries is the age-old war between the asuras and the devas that gave rise to the perennial male quest for immortality, transmuted into the human desire for sons that lies at the root of commercial surrogacy even today. However, it is the story of Drishadvati, her sacrifice and her nobility, that will enchant the reader.

The Lost Heroine

August 20, 2020

About the Book

Growing up in a district in Kerala, spinning idle dreams as she worked in the fields, Rosy had never been to the cinema. Her only brush with fame had been to act in the local Kakkarissi plays. So when Johnson Sir, her well-to-do neighbour, asked if she would like to play the role of heroine in a movie his friend Daniel was making, Rosy could scarcely believe it.

In a matter of weeks, Rosy, a poor Dalit Christian girl of the Pulaya caste, was transformed into Sarojini—the beautiful Nair girl who lived in a grand tharavad, wore mundus and blouses of the finest silk and gold jewellery from head to toe. Sarojini, with whom the handsome Jayachandran falls in love at first sight as she sits at her window playing the veena.

Rosy’s dreamworld comes to an end when the last scene is shot. A harsh reality awaits her when the film is screened at the Capitol Theatre in Trivandrum. There is shock and horror in the audience as the film rolls.
All hell breaks loose, and Rosy narrowly escapes death only to spend the rest of her life in anonymity. It is only in a forgotten roll of film that her story lives on. The story of Vighathakumaran (The Lost Child), the first film ever to be made in Malayalam, in the year 1928.

This poignant translation by C.S. Venkiteswaran and Arathy Ashok brings alive the world of early Malayalam cinema and the people who pioneered it, weaving within it a universal story of ambition, desire and the faultlines of caste and religious bigotry.

The Day Before Today: Lockdown Stories

July 2, 2020

Blurb:

In a land far away, a bat stirs up a cauldron of trouble. In the sanitized new world that emerges, everything has changed. A midnight feast in the kitchen is par for the course when there’s no school tomorrow—or any tomorrow to come. A ‘status update’ on Facebook is your only communication with a sibling in a containment zone. A young girl obsesses about the masked stranger in the aisles of a supermarket, while in a deserted guesthouse, a ghost falls in love with the mother of a newborn. Neighbourhood parties on Zoom become the new normal, as the children of a dystopian world invent strange new games, and a glamorous socialite finds there is someone who can use her discarded ‘Covid Cupboard’, after all. It is even possible to commit murder and get away with it, if you’re part of the ‘essential services’ brigade. Or find new ways to use an empty swimming pool.
Part fairy tale, part nightmare, The Day Before Today is a collection of dark, delicious short fiction that will make us rethink the world we took for granted.

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

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