Clearly targeting a female audience, this epic of love and sedition nevertheless offers far more than the average chick-lit romance with its carefully investigated and balanced view of the struggle for Indian independence in the years before and during World War II.
What better subject for satire than new money and those spending it? The wealthy suburbs of Delhi provide rich pickings for Diksha Basu who sets her tale of social jockeying amid its denizens.
It might be thought that all that can be said about earlier European contacts with India has been said, and that no further interesting approach to the study of those contacts could be developed. Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s Europe’s India: Words, People, Empires 1500-1800 proves how wrong such a supposition might be.
It is not surprising that writers in the Indian sub-continent should seek to redress the balance in accounts about what happened there when it was part of the British Empire.
Two interesting phenomena intersected at the turn on the last century. Just as Indian women were becoming globally visible as winners of several international beauty pageants, the racialized body (non-white, brown, along with Arab) became visible as the Other in the aftermath of 9/11. This stark polarity marks the subject of a new book on South Asian diaspora community that studies how appearances make and unmake attitudes about beauty and what sort of people become public icons.
At first glance, this award-winning epic is off-putting. First published in Hindi in 1979, the new English translation is some 452 pages long without the maps, glossary or translator’s notes required to read it. Perseverance, however, yields rewards in the shape of an all-encompassing sweep through pre-partition India, its many-faceted society and richly hued landscapes.
The opening of Manju Kapur’s new novel Brothers is also its dénoument. With the outcome already known, author Kapur has to work doubly hard to keep the reader engaged in the working out of the plot—something she fortunately achieves with aplomb.