Indian Preview: Our Top New Releases from July

  1. Anything But a Wasted Life by Sita Kaylin

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Working as a stripper is anything but easy. You’re often treated like a living blow-up doll and a therapist simultaneously. It’s a life that many judge easily … until you know more. Sita Kaylin, a California-based veteran in the sex industry, has lived the pitfalls of being naked in front of strangers and the absurdities that arise when you fake intimacy for a living. She left home when she was sixteen, worked hard at several jobs and eventually started college after dropping out of high school. There, a roommate turned her on to stripping, revealing a way out of the crushing financial pressures she felt and her struggles as a pre-law student with very little time or energy to study.

She had no idea how wild her journey would become and what a large part of her life it would be. Sita’s stories take shape through an often altered, occasionally sarcastic, sometimes illegal and frequently funny magnifying glass she holds up to not just the sex industry, but also to human needs and desires, modern relationships, mental health, personal independence. Anything But a Wasted Life is the memoir of an unorthodox life about a woman who has rarely said ‘no’ to life.

 

2. Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup

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An astounding exploration of intense longings, Shubhangi Swarup’s novel begins in the depths of the Andaman Sea, and follows geological and emotional faultlines through the Irrawaddy delta and the tourist-trap of Thamel, to end amidst the highest glaciers and passes of the Karakorams.

The story sweeps through worlds and times that are inhabited by: a scientist who studies trees and a clairvoyant who talks to them; Lord Goodenough who travels around the furthest reaches of the Raj, giving names to nameless places; a geologist working towards ending futile wars over a glacier; octogenarian lovers; a superstitious dictator and a mother struggling to get her revolutionary son released; a yeti who seeks human companionship; a turtle who turns first into a boat and then a woman; and the ghost of an evaporated ocean as restless as the continents. Binding them all together is a vision of life as vast as the universe itself.

 

3. A Pitch for Love by Kartik Kompella

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When young, unemployed Drona gets knocked off his bike by advertising goddess Prachi, and then promptly asks her for a job in her agency, neither of them expects Prachi to actually agree.

But she does. And, just like that, Drona is thrown headfirst into the breathless world of temperamental creative directors, cunning clients and bitter rivalries. And while no one can say that Drona’s way of coping isn’t creative, it’s certainly unconventional.

 

4. Between the Great Divide by Anam Zakaria

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Seventy years ago, as India and Pakistan gained their independence, the region of Jammu and Kashmir also found itself partitioned, with Gilgit Baltistan and ‘Azad’ Kashmir administered by Pakistan ever since. Located by the volatile Line of Control and caught in the middle of artillery barrages from both ends, ‘Azad’ Kashmir was until over a decade ago one of the most closed-off territories of the world. In a first book of its kind, award-winning Pakistani writer Anam Zakaria travels through the region to hear the people of ‘Azad’ Kashmir – their sufferings, hopes and aspirations. She talks to women and children living near the Line of Control; journalists and writers braving all odds to document events in remote areas; former militants still committed to the cause; nationalists struggling for a united independent Kashmir; and refugees yearning to reunite with their families. In the process, Zakaria breaks the silence surrounding a people who are often ignored in discussions on the present and future of J&K even though they are important stakeholders in what happen in the region.

 

5. Bastar Dispatches by Narendra

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Abujhmad in the deep interiors of Bastar is inhabited by the Abujhmadias, a primitive hunter-gatherer tribe whom Verrier Elwin has called the Hill Murias. Abujhmad stands today as one of the few mirrors left the world over wherein modernity can view itself – its calamities and collapses. Abujhmad asks no questions of itself nor provides answers; neither are there searches, quests or creation of utopias, ideas and ideologies, elaborate languages, agricultures, technologies and endeavours.

Based on the author’s over thirty years of association with Abujhmad (he is probably the first outsider to live there) and its contiguous areas in the Bastar division of Chhattisgarh, Bastar Dispatches brings out how forests and the wilds, humans and animals, distances, spaces and the skies, the knowns and unknowns together make up societies and intimacies.

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