On the first page of Return to Sri Lanka, Razeen Sally endearingly describes himself as a wonk, ie a technocrat. A political economist and policy advisor on international trade, his writing normally appears in academic journals; this is his first attempt to write something more personal. He was born and grew up in Sri Lanka, but as an adult he lost touch with the country. This book is a personal rediscovery and an exhaustive look at the history and culture of the island.
Wild Boar in the Cane field introduces a world of magic realism, in which a fly-covered baby girl, Tara, is found and raised by two mothers in a community rife with rituals and superstition. As she grows, Tara pursues acceptance at all costs. Saffiya, her adoptive mother, and Bhaggan, Saffiya’s maidservant, are victims of the men in their community, and the two women, in turn, struggle and live short but complicated lives. The only way for the villagers to find solace is through the rituals of ancient belief systems.
Geography used to be considered destiny, but this once-popular notion that terrain and climate drove history has gone out of fashion. Now a new generation of environmental historians are bringing hard, physical materiality back into mainstream history with a more nuanced approach, looking at the historically situated interaction between people and their physical environments.
The number of books incorporating “the Idea of India” into their title in recent times is indicative that this idea has been in a crisis for a while. Siddhartha Sarma’s Carpenters and Kings is one more response to this crisis of India, dealing with an oft-ignored population group. In an environment where the Hindu Right suggests that Christianity and Islam are foreign to India, this book seeks to “set the record straight” and demonstrate that the history of Christianity in India is a nearly two-millennia-long story of great complexity.
Bertil Lintner, in his enlightening new book The Costliest Pearl, describes today’s struggle for supremacy in the Indian Ocean as a new Great Game, or alternatively, a new Cold War. The major contestants are China, the United States and India, but subsidiary powers such as Australia, France, and Japan are also involved.
Wisdom has it that forgetting the past risks repeating it. The old must remind both themselves and the young where they came from, what happened to them and why, and who was responsible.
Belonging and inclusion are the themes which bind together this offering of short stories and poems from The Whole Kahani, a collective of award-winning female writers of British-Asian origin. The preface, written by Preti Taneja, acclaimed author of We That Are Young, outlines the mission statement of the collective, whose name translates as “the full story”.