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January Picks: Five New Books by Indian Writers You Need to Read

Attendant Lords | T.C.A. Raghavan

Bairam Khan and his son, Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan were soldiers, poets and courtiers whose lives reflected the turbulent times they lived in. In telling their stories, Attendant Lords spans the reigns of four emperors—Babur, Humayun, Akbar and Jahangir—and covers over a hundred years of Mughal history, a time when these two noblemen were at the very heart of the court’s labyrinthine politics.

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This unusual dual biography traces the lives of these two noblemen against the backdrop of the courtly intrigues, brutal power struggles and the grand literary endeavours of the Mughal court. And it looks at their afterlives—how politics and the Hindi-Urdu debate reincarnated them as national heroes; how both men came to be seen as standing at the confluence of Hinduism and Islam; how their life stories have undergone subtle transformations; and how history, religion and literature combine in the broader context of nationalism and nation building.

 Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2jEg5Kp


 When Crime Pays | Milan Vaishnav

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The first thorough study of the co-existence of crime and democratic processes in Indian politics

In India, the world’s largest democracy, the symbiotic relationship between crime and politics raises complex questions. For instance, how can free and fair democratic elections exist alongside rampant criminality? Why do political parties actively recruit candidates with reputations for wrongdoing? Why do voters elect (and even re-elect) them—to the point that a third of state and national legislators assume office with pending criminal charges?

In this eye-opening book, political scientist Milan Vaishnav takes readers deep into the marketplace for criminal politicians by drawing on fieldwork on the campaign trail, large surveys, and an original database on politicians’ backgrounds.

Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2jYby6l


Kissing the Demon | Amrita Kumar

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Do you have a great story to tell but don’t know where to begin or how to give it shape?
Whether you’re an aspiring writer or a seasoned one, a writer of fiction or narrative non-fiction, Kissing the Demon will help you navigate the maze of plot construction, narrative viewpoint, character development, dialogue creation and description even while allowing your imagination to flow.

Written by an editor and publisher who has for over four decades nurtured some of India’s finest writers, it also tackles the insular world of publishers, agents, contracts and editors. It tells you how to find a publisher or agent, what gets a publisher’s attention and what turns it off – all the stuff writers take years to learn.

Finally, it offers solutions to the vexing issue of balancing everyday life with writing, a problem every writer faces and the reason why so many books remain unwritten.

George Orwell once described writing as a horrible, exhausting experience and that he wouldn’t have written a single book were he not driven by some demon he could neither resist nor understand. Kissing the Demon will make your journey as a writer a little less painful, make you look upon that demon with a little more love.

Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2jE8Yl1


Imagine | Shanta Acharya

Imagine brings together the finest work from Shanta Acharya’s five books of poetry with a generous selection of new verses. Her subtly layered poems, with deep roots in two cultures, explore and reflect on the human condition. They address consciousness and creativity, issues of self and of the ways in which identity is perceived, belonging and exile, love and betrayal, suffering and realization. Moving with ease from ancient Indian scriptures and history to sharply observed lyrics about nature, from the horror and injustice of war to the absurdity of life, Acharya’s work reveals the largesse of her vision. This selection is a sound introduction to an uncommon poet.

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Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2k8Qah6


Those Children | Shahbano Bilgrami

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When ten-year-old Ferzana Mahmud and her three older siblings lose their mother to cancer, everything changes. Their heartbroken father moves them from their familiar Chicago suburb to a city thousands of miles away in his native Pakistan. To help them adjust to life in Karachi and to the eccentricities of their extended clan, Ferzana, Fatima, Raza, and Jamila escape into a fantasy world of their own making. As superhuman creatures with incredible powers, they investigate the members of their grandfather’s household. In the process, they discover astonishing facts not only about the Mahmuds but also about the nature of family, love and loss.

Told from the perspective of an adult Ferzana reflecting over that fateful year, we see Karachi through the impressionable eyes of a ten-year-old child as she negotiates everything from religious schism and genealogy to patriotism and puberty. Ferzana’s love of sleuthing helps her to piece together her family’s complicated history, a history that brings with it the promise of hope and redemption.

Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2jwsS49

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