Reviews

September 4, 2018

‘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.

July 29, 2018

‘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.

July 9, 2018

‘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.

July 6, 2018

‘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.

July 2, 2018

‘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.

July 2, 2018

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.

July 2, 2018

‘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.

June 28, 2018

‘… modest yet masterfully plotted, Swaminathan’s book has blended enough drama and intrigue through these seven cases, resulting in a page turner that will leave a reader impatient to find out who will ring Lalli’s doorbell next.’ Book review of Murder in Seven Acts: Lalli Mysteries by Kalpana Swaminathan.

June 28, 2018

“The Legend of the Wolf” is a Young Adult novel, but is also good for moms like me who are looking for a good, swift and entertaining read and who don’t mind occasionally venturing into territories different than the one they are used to reading.” Book review of The Legend of the Wolf by Andaleeb Wajid.

June 18, 2018

‘If we look back at how it all began, says Schipper, we find that sex and gender issues have been expressed in oral traditions…Such oral ‘wisdom’ represents a fascinating cultural history, and proverbs are a most telling part of that serial narrative. Based, therefore, on research of proverbs from 245 languages, the author goes on to analyse them on the basis of the specific references to women in proverbs.’ Book review of Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet by Mineke Schipper.

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