September 1970. Ramchandra Singh enters the Hardoi District Jail in Uttar Pradesh as a naxalite undertrial. Barely twenty, his life of expanding prospects—in studies, politics and love—is reduced to the horizon of a life term. The odds are stacked against the survival of his humanity and imagination, but Singh regenerates his gifts of empathy, humour, reflection and, above all, language—in a secret diary smuggled out with the help of friends.
A singular record of recent history and of individual witness, Singh’s prison diary, newly expanded, appears in English for the first time. Offering unprecedented intimacy with the everyday life of the imprisoned everyman, Singh challenges us to look without flinching and question our assumptions about crime and punishment.
Ramchandra Singh (1949–2018), of Bangarmau village in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, was a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Red Star, and served on its Central Committee. He was part of the editorial board of Red Star Monthly (Hindi). He passed away when this book was in press.
Madhu Singh is a professor in the Department of English and Modern European Languages, University of Lucknow. She has previously translated the scholar G.N. Devy’s work, A Nomad Called Thief, into Hindi as Ghumantu Hain Chor Nahin.
Jotiba Phule’s Fight for Liberty
In 1873, Jotirao Govindrao Phule wrote Gulamgiri (Slavery), a scathing, witty attack on the Vedas as idle fantasies of the brahman mind which enslaved the shudras and atishudras. A hundred and forty years hence, Srividya Natarajan and Aparajita Ninan breathe fresh life into Phule’s graphic imagination, weaving in the story of Savitribai, Jotiba’s partner in his struggles.
In today’s climate of intolerance, here’s a manifesto of resistance—Phule setting the dynamite of thought to the scriptures and ideas Hindus hold dear.
The classic collection of sixteen sermons preached and compiled by Dr. King
As Dr. King prepared for the Birmingham campaign in early 1963, he drafted the final sermons for Strength to Love, a volume of his most best-known homilies. King had begun working on the sermons during a fortnight in jail in July 1962. While behind bars, he spent uninterrupted time preparing the drafts for works such as “Loving Your Enemies” and “Shattered Dreams,” and he continued to edit the volume after his release. A Gift of Love includes these classic sermons, along with two new preachings. Collectively they present King’s fusion of Christian teachings and social consciousness, and promote his prescient vision of love as a social and political force for change.
A Man of the People (1966) is a novel by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. Written as a satirical piece, A Man of the People follows a story told by Odili, a young and educated narrator, on his conflict with Chief Nanga, his former teacher who enters a career in politics in an unnamed fictional 20th century African country. Odili represents the changing younger generation; Nanga represents the traditional West African customs, inspired by that of Achebe’s native Nigeria. The book ends with a military coup, similar to the real-life coups of Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Yakubu Gowon.
Choudhury, here, reignites the debate over the appropriation of Ambedkar. Amidst rising echoes for Ambedkar-Marx, Ambedkar-Marx-Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar-Marx-Gandhi-Bhagat Singh, he provocatively asks us to think of Ambedkar’s singular exceptionality—from an excerpt in Indian Cultural Forum
What is most interesting about this difficult but beautiful book is that it is committed to the task of exposing the naked antagonisms that snake across the cracked surfaces of these oppressive structures. —Scroll.in
Nowadays when Ambedkar scholarship has become an industry, Choudhury’s thesis approaches him from an entirely new perspective.—The Telegraph
This book is an attempt at intimacy with B.R. Ambedkar in his hours away from history and headlines. The aim here is to recover the ephemera that attended Ambedkar’s life and died with him—his pleasure in his library and book-collecting, his vein of gruff humour, the sensation of seeing him in the flesh for the first time, or of stepping out of a summer storm into his house and hearing him at practice on his violin. Here, we have his attendants, admirers and companions speak of Ambedkar’s love of the sherwani, kurta, lungi, dhoti, and even his sudden paean to elasticated underpants. We meet Ambedkar the lover of dogs and outsize fountain pens, proponent of sex education and contraception, anti-prohibitionist teetotaler and occasional cook.
The fragments that make up this volume enable the recovery of his many facets—a rewarding biographical quest.
The Making of Babasaheb and the Dalit Movement
When India detonated a thermonuclear device in May 1998, Arundhati Roy wrote The End of Imagination . Since then she has written with clarity, precision and insight about a range of subjects of the utmost importance. This second volume of her collected writing brings together fourteen essays written between June 2002 and November 2004. In these essays she draws the thread of empire through seemingly unconnected arenas, uncovering the links between America s War on Terror, the growing threat of corporate power, the response of nation states to resistance movements, the role of NGOs, caste and communal politics in India, and the perverse machinery of an increasingly corporatized mass media. Meticulously researched and carefully argued, The Ordinary Person s Guide to Empire is a necessary work for our times.
What happens when ill-treated farm animals gang up to throw out their lazy, corrupt and power-drunk rulers? Animal Farm is born.
As humans get ousted from Manor Farm and animals take control, their utopian fantasy of running a farm on the basis of equality soon begins to crumble before their eyes. The rebellion of the animals, led by the two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, gives way to corrupt practices that lead to unthinkable consequences.
A resounding fable on totalitarianism and power-gone-corrupt, Animal Farm is an allegorical novella that took the publishing world by storm when it was first published and hasn’t stopped doing so ever since. The ultimate satire on fascism, Animal Farm finds relevance even in present-day world. A must-read!
with an Introduction,‘The Doctor and the Saint’ by Arundhati Roy
Annihilation of Caste ‘posseses a generic openness to the wounds and decisions of existence which can breach the prisons of the world as no amount of scholarship can’—Biblio
Read a comprehensive interview with Arundhati Roy in Outlook, where she says, ‘Caste is at the heart of the rot in our society. Quite apart from what it has done to the subordinated castes, it has corroded the moral core of the privileged castes. We need to take Ambedkar seriously.’
‘Angela Davis swings a wrecking ball into the racist and sexist underpinnings of the American prison system’—Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman, US.
Davis’ central point is worth studying and bringing to the foreground in the prison reform movement. She argues that prisons do not solve crime. Within the last two decades the prison boom simply has intensified the criminalization of certain types of behavior, rather than having brought official crime rates down.—http://www.politicalaffairs.net
As the trespassers walked towards the mosque, the muezzin […] jumped out of the darkness. Before the adversaries could discover his presence, he dashed straight towards Abhiram Das, the vairagi who was holding the idol in his hands and leading the group of intruders. […] The sadhu quickly freed himself and, together with his friends, retaliated fiercely. Heavy blows began raining from all directions. Soon, the muezzin realized that he was no match for the men and that he alone would not be able to stop them. 22 December 1949: A conspiracy that began with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi culminated in the execution of the Ayodhya strategy. Late that night, a little-known sadhu, Abhiram Das, and his followers entered the Babri Masjid and planted an idol of Rama inside it. While it is known that the Hindu Mahasabha had a role in placing the idol in the mosque, the larger plot and the chain of events that led to that act have never been subject to rigorous scrutiny. Through intrepid research and investigation, Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K. Jha bring together the disparate threads of the buried narrative for the first time. Through a series of first-hand interviews with eyewitnesses and the unearthing of archival material, the authors take us behind the scenes to examine the motivations and workings of the Mahasabha members who pulled the strings. They also examine the liaison between Mahasabhaites and Hindu traditionalists in the Congress – an association that Jawaharlal Nehru sought to break in his cautious battle with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the right-wing forces. Ayodhya: The Dark Night uncovers, in vivid detail, what really transpired on the fateful night that was to leave a permanent scar on the Indian polity.
2009–2012 War has spread from India’s borders to the forests in the very heart of the country. Here are four essays by Arundhati Roy including the heatedly debated ‘Walking with the Comrades’ that combines a clear-eyed, analytical overview with extraordinary reportage from the ground of the Maoist guerrilla zone and her most recent essay, ‘Capitalism: A Ghost Story’. Broken Republic examines the nature of progress and development in the emerging global superpower, and asks some fundamental questions about the real meaning of civilization itself.
The poor in India are, too often, reduced to statistics. In the dry language of development reports and economic projections, the true misery of the 312 million who live below the poverty line, or the 26 million displaced by various projects, or the 13 million who suffer from tuberculosis gets overlooked. In this thoroughly researched study of the poorest of the poor, we get to see how they manage, what sustains them, and the efforts, often ludicrous, to do something for them. The people who figure in this book typify the lives and aspirations of a large section of Indian society, and their stories present us with the true face of development.
Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village is a 1966 book by William H. Hinton that describes the land-reform campaign during the Chinese Civil War conducted from 1945 to 1948 by the Chinese Communist Party in “Long Bow Village” (the name used in the book for the village of Zhangzhuangcun in Shanxi province). Hinton lived in the village in spring and summer of 1948 and witnessed scenes described in the book and recreates earlier events based on local records and interviews with participants. He explains party strategy to present the campaign’s successes in building a revolutionary consciousness and a power-base among the poor peasants, but also its errors and excesses, especially the violence toward rich peasants and landlords. Fanshen has been compared to Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China and characterized as “perhaps the book that most changed American cold war perceptions of the Chinese Revolution.”
Originally published: 1966
Author: William H. Hinton
This new edition of Eduardo Galeano’s riveting commentary on the history and politics of soccer includes newly written material on the 2002 World Cup, which one quarter of humanity watched. Discussing everything from the leveling of the Twin Towers to the death of the sole survivor of that extraordinary match between British and German soldiers in 1915, one of South America’s greatest commentators issues forth on robotic soccer in Japan, the mass-production of the game as a sign of the decline of civilization, the amazing success of Senegal and Turkey, and how Nike beat Adidas.
French Lover is the story of Nilanjana, a young Bengali woman from Kolkata who moves to Paris after getting married to Kishanlal, a restaurant owner. Kishanlal’s luxurious apartment seems to be a gilded cage for Nilanjana, and she feels stifled within its friendless confines. Her marriage, where she functions as little more than a housekeeper and sex object, is far from fulfilling and Nilanjana desperately looks for a way out of the boredom and depression that threaten to engulf her. It is at this point that she meets Benoir Dupont, a blond, blue-eyed handsome Frenchman, and is swept off her feet. Benoir introduces Nilanjana to the streets, cafes and art galleries of Paris. In her passionate, sexually liberating relationship with Benoir, she finally begins to have an inkling of her own desires. The relationship ends when Nilanjana realises that Benoir’s first priority is himself and not the woman he loves, and that her need for him has ended. But her road to self-discovery has only just begun. Bold in concept and powerful in execution, French Lover is a fascinating glimpse into the workings of a woman’s mind as she struggles to come to terms with her identity in a hostile world.
Set in an exotic Eastern landscape peopled by magicians and fantastic talking animals, Salman Rushdie’s classic children’s novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories inhabits the same imaginative space as The Lord of the Rings, The Alchemist, and The Wizard of Oz. In this captivating work of fantasy from the author of Midnight’s Children and The Enchantress of Florence, Haroun sets out on an adventure to restore the poisoned source of the sea of stories. On the way, he encounters many foes, all intent on draining the sea of all its storytelling powers.
“Though there is darkness and silence at the center of Chup, most of Haroun and the Sea of Stories is full of comic energy and lively verbal invention. . . .Though [the book] is sure to be enjoyed by children, it also contains amusements for adults.” — The New York Times
This epic of a life larger than its legend is both intimate, based on family archives, and global in significance. “His Majesty s Opponent” establishes Bose among the giants of Indian and world history.
Their dreams were not too different from ours. Each one achieved success—school principal, poet, police constable, chartered accountant and social entrepreneur. But the road was long, the hurdles seemingly unpassable. The real-life narratives of the twenty-five young writers in this book reveal the bridges they built between the slum communities they were born in and the world outside.
These are stories we walk past, faces we don’t stop to notice. These voices show a maturity beyond their years, reminding us that honesty, courage, success and compassion are in each one of us if we are given the right opportunities to develop them.
The profound insights offered in Jangalnama are the result of Satnam s close observation of the guerillas and adivasis of Bastar. Varavara Rao Maoist guerillas always on the move, always on guard living deep in the jungles of Bastar. Outlawed, demonized and hunted by the state, they are perceived with fear, incomprehension and terror by the outside world. Satnam spent two months in remarkable intimacy with the guerrillas: travelling with them, sharing their food and shelter, experiencing their lives first hand. Through his up-close and personal account of their daily lives, we register them as human, made of flesh and bone. We are persuaded to appreciate their commitment to root out oppression.
Jangalnama is not merely a travelogue recording Satnam s days in the jungle. It is a compelling argument to recognize the humanity of those in conflict with the mainstream of Indian society and to acknowledge their dream of a world free of exploitation.