The Tainted An Irish-Indian Love Story

January 12, 2021

The hills of Nandagiri,1920: the Irish Kildare Regiment is part of the vast machinery that holds together the British Empire for the Crown of England. Back home in Ireland, the Irish War for Independence is raging and is met with a ruthless backlash; the Black and Tans—an English paramilitary force set up to crush Irish dissidents—spread death, indignities and destruction wherever they go.

In Nandagiri, Rose Twomey, an Irish-Indian, and Michael, a soldier from the Kildare Rangers, fall in love, defying the social norms of the time that disapproved of such unions. As news of the Black and Tans’ atrocities reach
India, anger brews among the Irish soldiers against the Crown they’ve sworn to serve, leading to mutiny, arrests, court-martials and executions. Rose and Michael are helpless in the political maelstrom blowing around them that rips through their lives and dreams.

Sixty years later, in those very same hills, families torn apart by those turbulent decades are forced to reckon with the horrors of the past, heartbreak, loss and alienation, but they may yet, perhaps, finally find healing
and belonging.

Through a love story spanning an era of Indian and Irish history, The Tainted describes the continued disconnect that many Anglo-Indians live in, unable to come to terms with being unwanted in the country they consider ‘home’ (the land of their White fathers), the bitterness they pass down to their children and their mutually conflicted relationship with a country they are unsure whether to call their own.

The Last Light of Glory Days

January 12, 2021

Profoundly compassionate and a masterful storyteller, Avinuo Kire describes a world that is as breathtaking as it is shattering; where military occupation and magic co-exist.

‘The Disturbance’ holds three interconnected stories, set against the backdrop of the Indo-Naga conflict that began in the late 1940s and remains unresolved to this day. Told through the eyes of women from three succeeding generations of the same family, the stories recount how Naga people remained determined to hold on to normalcy even in the face of occupation, state torture, the tearing apart of families and racism.

In ‘New Tales from an Old World’, everyday events in the mountains are infused with an element of the supernatural. Naga myths and folk legends slip effortlessly into tales of hard farm life, childhood terrors and adventures in the countryside, love and mourning. In these stories, hunters, predators, Tekhumevi (weretigers), secret potions, shadowy-demons called Kamvüpfhi, strange spirits and enchanted forests, find a place in contemporary Nagaland with remarkable ease.

This volume, both a political declaration and a personal love-note to her land, establishes Avinuo Kire as a writer of formidable skill. The Last Light of Glory Days is an exquisite unravelling of the tired tropes that cast Nagaland as another undistinguishable piece in the ‘Northeast’.

Raagam Taanam Pallavi – A Lalli Mystery

November 17, 2020

Lalli, retired policewoman—the sharpest, most intriguing detective in Indian fiction—is at it again. Solving a crime—except that this time, she suspects that she herself may be the murderer.

A forgotten piece of music is her only clue. Until a second murder occurs. A man is found bludgeoned to death in the courtyard outside Subbu Bhagavathar’s house, with Subbu’s son sitting in a blood-soaked veshti next to the body. It’s an open-and-shut case, according to Inspector Shukla and his trusted aide, Shaktivel. Not so for Lalli.
To get to the truth, Lalli has to turn to the myth of Murugan, the six-headed god. Murugan’s weapon is his shining spear, the Vel, meant to pierce Illusion, and reveal the Truth. In the Azhagu ceremony, the devotees of Murugan undergo a ritual piercing with the vel, to shed themselves of their burdens and see the truth.

Delving deep into myth and tradition, music and song, Lalli slowly uncovers the truth. Of two crimes – one committed unwittingly, the other with deliberate and evil intent. As Sita, Savio and Dr Q rally around her, Lalli is determined to get justice for the victims, whatever the cost to herself.

Steeped in musical tradition and folklore, Raagam Taanam Pallavi is as much a treat for music lovers as it is for those who love a good whodunit. Kalpana Swaminathan excels herself in this latest addition to the much-loved detective series combining literary panache with a talent for sleuthing.

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.

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