Rudyard Kipling’s 1888 short story “The Man Who Would Be King” (well-known thanks to the Sean Connery film by the same name) is about two English ex-army ruffians who want to become kings; they do indeed come to rule a kingdom in Afghanistan. Eventually, the two die when their “subjects” turn against them. Rishi Dastidar uses this colonizer’s desire and ambition to be king as material for his Saffron Jack. The resulting long poem is the story of a British citizen who is told he does not belong in Great Britain, and decides to have a nation of his own to rule over.
Indian poet-diplomat Abhay K is out with a larger collection of Indian poetry combining his earlier anthologies of a hundred poems each. The resulting book is The Bloomsbury Anthology of Great Indian Poems covering English poetry as well as English translations of poems written in 28 Indian languages.
The first two decades of the 20th century saw the emergence of urbanism in sociology and philosophy: Georg Simmel wrote about the metropolis and mental life, and Walter Benjamin penned portraits of Western cities like Paris and discussed the work of Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe in the context of the flâneur, the dandy who roamed the streets to observe the city and the people.
Indians continue to engage with the Mughal Empire in a way they don’t with any other dynasty.
Part memoir and part fiction, Ship of Sorrows, translation of the modernist Urdu novel Safina e Gham e Dil by Qurratulain Hyder, is a complex take on the representation of the Partition. Hyder uses the historical event to dwell on the intellectual and artistic angles of the act of living in an era that writers normally use as a backdrop for human drama.
John Oliver has been blamed, among other things, for helping Donald Trump win the 2016 US Presidential race. Rather than dealing with the rise of right-wing populism, liberals like Oliver chose to deride, ridicule and dismiss. Worldwide, liberals are seen as elitists and out of sync with the problems of the common man. In her book Reading India Now: Contemporary Formations in Literature and Popular Culture, Ulka Anjaria approaches the issue through the examples of literature and popular culture produced in India since 2000.
There is a Kashmir that tourists know about: the one with houseboats, carpets, the one called the Paradise on Earth. There is another Kashmir the world knows through the newspapers, that of militants, a place embroiled in the Indo-Pak border conflict. Madhuri Vijay’s debut novel is a “fictional” attempt to know Kashmir from both extremes—the latter more than the former—through the lense of a woman visiting here for the first time.