August, the month where we celebrate our freedom, enjoy our independence and almost always revisit our long-standing issues with our neighbour Pakistan. No wonder two of the top five releases this month are based on these themes, while the other three include a witty and deeply insightful memoir, a satirical novel, and the past and present of a city made for the future.
- Footprints on Zero Line
The Partition of 1947 has influenced the works of an entire generation of writers and continues to do so. Gulzar witnessed the horrors of Partition first-hand and it is a theme that he has gone back to again and again in his writings. Footprints on Zero Line brings together a collection of his finest writings — fiction, non-fiction and poems — on Partition. What sets this collection apart from other writings on Partition is that Gulzar’s unerring eye does not stop at the events of 1947 but looks at how it continues to affect our lives to this day. Brilliantly rendered in English by Rakhshanda Jalil, this collection marks seventy years of India’s Independence and is a timely reminder that those who ignore the errors of our history are doomed to repeat them.
2. Memoirs of My Body
Shreya wrote a wildly popular column about the body parts and body fluids, flings and romantic encounters, stepping back to think about it all: her body, her writing and her life. Intensely personal and utterly universal, Memoirs of My Body is a book about masturbation, the first kiss, pregnancy, sagging breasts, the wrong man and the right man. A tale of triumphs and tragedies, injustices (on a global scale) and ecstasy (the little ones we can all identify with). Funny, sad, serious and sometimes very rude, this book is the story of one woman and of Everywoman too.
3. The People Next Door
This book tracks seventy years of the India–Pakistan interface. Events, anecdotes and personalities drive its narrative to illustrate the cocktail of hostility, nationalism and nostalgia that defines every facet of the relationship. Apart from political, military and security issues, The People Next Door evokes other perspectives: divided families, peacemakers, war mongers, contrarian thinkers, the footprint of Bollywood, cricket and literature: all of which are intrinsic parts of this most tangled of relationships.
4. Auroville: A City for the Future
In March 1914, two people met in Puducherry: Sri Aurobindo, the Indian visionary, and Mirra Alfassa, who later came to be known as the Mother. This serendipitous meeting eventually led to the birth of Auroville, which was heralded as the City for the Future. For thousands of years, people have tried to develop better ways of living but, ironically, these have led to exploitation, divisions and turmoil. Auroville is an attempt to forge a new humanity.
This future city began with just two things: a charter and a city plan to welcome people from around the world. Told by someone who has lived the adventure for thirty-six years, this book explores how far the city has grown to resonate with its founding vision.
5. Hell! No Saints in Paradise
2050, New York. In the aftermath of a gruelling spiritual cleansing quest, Ismael, a Pakistani-American student, enters an alliance with otherworldly beings who send him on a perilous journey of self-discovery. A non-believer, Ismael must return to Pakistan, now in the grip of a brutal fundamentalist government, and gain the trust of his estranged father, a prominent extremist in the Caliphate. To accomplish this, he must pose as a true believer. Will he survive long enough to infiltrate his father’s inner sanctum and complete his mission? Hell! No Saints in Paradise is both biting satire and allegory that takes urban fantasy to dizzying heights.
(All books listed above are available at leading bookstores, online and offline.)