‘Obesity is a low energy state. This description of obesity as an invisible illness marks the starting point of FAT: The Body, Food And Obesity, which undertakes a scientific exploration of our relationship with food. Authored by paediatric surgeons Dr Ishrat Syed and Dr Kalpana Swaminathan, FAT simplifies how the body feels about what we eat, rather than how our body looks, which is often the starting point of many appearance-driven health and beauty movements today.’ Book review of FAT: The Body, Food And Obesity by Dr Ishrat Syed and Dr Kalpana Swaminathan.
‘In a society where dietary preferences are being scrutinised by self-styled guardians and protectors of tradition, Haksar’s book makes for illuminating reading. An exploration of the deep-rooted connection between society and food, it is also an important reminder that not all is well with modern-day India.’ Book review of The Flavours of Nationalism: Recipes for Love, Hate and Friendship by Nandita Haksar.
‘Visier’s story is riveting, a saga of suffering, fortitude and perseverance interspersed with the Naga tales of struggle for freedom.’ Book review of A Naga Odyssey by Visier Meyasetsu Sanyü with Richard Broome .
‘It’s not an unreasonable expectation from a work that is an urgent reminder to democracies about the germs they are carrying within. A reminder that autocracy is often caused by a docile and obedient mind, and it takes very little for a democracy to slip into the totalitarian mode. In true Gandhian spirit, Jahanbegloo’s book is a contemplative essay but it also calls upon citizens to display an immediate and thoughtful disobedience.’ Book review of ‘The Disobedient Indian: Towards a Gandhian Philosophy of Dissent’ by Ramin Jahanbegloo.
‘A collection of rarely heard stories of women who take up the gun, from five troubled regions of India.’ Book review of She Goes to War: Women Militants of India by Rashmi Saksena.
‘From Ayyappan to celibacy, from sambandhams to dargahs, parks and sexology, Infinite Variety; A History of Desire in India by Madhavi Menon looks at them all with an erudition that cuts across categories. The author blends serious scholarship with a deep understanding of popular culture, folk lore, myth, religion and worship, and ‘Indian’ ways of both seeing and unseeing.’ Book review of Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India by Madhavi Menon.
‘Wendy Doniger’s books over the years have been either vast and encyclopaedic (The Hindus: An Alternative History, 2009, On Hinduism, 2013, and The Ring of Truth, 2017) or minutely detailed (The Woman who Pretended to Be Who She Was, 2004, and Reading the Kamasutra, 2016). They remind us of two things about her remarkable intelligence and her therefore remarkable scholarship. One, that she knows a lot of things about a lot of things and can bring them together in unusual and intriguing ways, and two, that she has the patience and sensitivity to read a text minutely and carefully, opening it up in ways that were hitherto unconsidered. To our great advantage, she manifests both these talents in Beyond Dharma, where she argues (in the main) that Kautilya’s Artha Shastra and Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra both provide contemporaneous challenges to the strictures of an idealised and prescriptive dharma as articulated in the Dharma Shastras.’ Book review of Beyond Dharma: Dissent in the Ancient Indian Sciences of Sex and Politics by Wendy Doniger.
‘A Firefly In The Dark is worth picking up for yourself or a young friend. The characters are real and vivid, and I certainly know a lot more about jinns than I used to, which I’m counting as a definite bonus.’ Book review of A Firefly in the Dark by Shazaf Fatima Haider.
Psychiatrist Anirudh Kala’s ‘The Unsafe Asylum: Stories of Partition and Madness’ in interlinked episodes explores the impact of Partition on mental health in both countries, and even of the future generations. Book review of The Unsafe Asylum: Stories of Partition and Madness by Anirudh Kala.
‘In Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India, Madhavi Menon explores alternative histories of desire in the subcontinent, a desire that manifests in infinite forms, across genders and geographies, subject and objects, mathematics and literature and religious texts. From dargahs to Bollywood, celibacy to paan, calendars to yoga to the number zero itself, Menon illuminates fluid and complicated histories of desire that are rapidly disappearing from mainstream public and political discourse.’ Book review of Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India by Madhavi Menon.