Autumn bugles in its own routine. It’s often associated with warm clothes, a cosy muffler, a cuppa tea and a book to read. Here’s a collection of new releases by Aleph Book Publications and Rupa Publications that you can buy to upgrade your reading shelf and realise your reading goals for 2023.
1. The Assamese: A Portrait of a Community
By Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty
‘Aami kun? Who are we?’
So begins journalist Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty’s enquiry into the diverse cultures and peoples of Assam. Her book looks in detail at all the varying aspects of the land and its people—the astonishingly diverse physical appearance of the Assamese and what it reveals about their origins; the multiple kingdoms and rulers of the region from antiquity onwards, of whom the Ahoms are the best known; the Assamese language and its rich linguistic provenance; the folk beliefs and celebrations of Assamese culture, such as the three Bihu festivals, which cut across boundaries of caste and religion; the significance of the mighty Brahmaputra, the Red River, in the lives of the people; the quintessential food, drink, and cooking techniques to be found across the region; the many distinctive forms of cultural expression that are found nowhere else in the country—clothes, jewellery, literature, music, dance, cinema, drama, and art; and, finally, the politics of the state and how it informs the nature of contemporary Assam. Full of colourful anecdotes and unforgettable pen portraits, The Assamese is the first major attempt to provide a comprehensive and nuanced portrait of one of India’s oldest and most distinctive communities.
2. The Greatest Malayalam Stories Ever Told
By Selected and translated by A. J. Thomas
The Greatest Malayalam Stories Ever Told is a collection of fifty brilliant short stories translated from the Malayalam. Selected and translated by poet, editor, and translator A. J. Thomas, this collection includes established masters such as Karoor Neelakanta Pillai, Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, Lalithambika Antharjanam, Ponkunnam Varkey, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, S. K. Pottekkatt, Uroob, O. V. Vijayan, M. T. Vasudevan Nair, and Paul Zacharia, as well as accomplished new voices such as N. Prabhakaran, C. V. Balakrishnan, Aymanam John, Chandramathi, and others.
‘The Farmer’ by Thakazhi and ‘The Speaking Plough’ by Varkey deal with the trials and tribulations of village life. In Pilllai’s story ‘Wooden Dolls’ and Kesadeva’s ‘The Oath’, we encounter the seemingly simple, but intrinsically complex personalities of three rural women characters. In his classic story ‘The World-renowned Nose’, Basheer, the master satirist, resorts to biting satire to expose human vanity. In Antharjanam’s ‘Dhirendu Majumdar’s Mother’, the mother emerges as the revolutionary heroine of the Partition of 1947 and the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. ‘Humans and Animals’ by Nandanar narrates an unbelievably macabre incident from the horrors of Partition. In O. V. Vijayan’s masterpiece, ‘The Hanging’, the reader is drawn into a father’s sorrow over the death of his child. Madhavikkuty in ‘Scent of a Bird’ draws in bold strokes the existential angst of a modern woman who wishes to make a career for herself. P. Vatsala’s story ‘Pempi’ describes the plight of Adiyar tribal women. M. T. Vasudevan Nair, in his celebrated story, ‘Vision’, underlines the freedom and liberated state of women choosing for themselves. ‘Photo’ by M. Mukundan is a harrowing story about child molestation. Zacharia, in his inimitable style, tells the story of an eccentric and reclusive masseur-physician who is challenged by a patient to heal her in ‘The Garden of the Antlions’. Sara Joseph’s ‘Sweat Marks’ shows how caste elites come together to dupe a brilliant Dalit student. These and other stories in this collection portray with brilliance and nuance the complex tapestry of the Malayali experience down the ages.
3. The Night Has a Thousand Eyes: My Favourite Stories of Love, Warmth, and Friendship
By Ruskin Bond
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes is the newest collection of heartwarming stories from the master storyteller Ruskin Bond. It includes classics like ‘Angry River’, ‘The Cherry Tree’, ‘The Blue Umbrella’, ‘Friends of My Youth’, ‘The Night Train at Deoli’, and two new delightful stories that have never been published before. The title story, ‘The Night Has a Thousand Eyes’, traces the narrator’s journey from London to India and his encounter with an ambassador’s daughter. In ‘High Water’ the protagonist ventures near a beach where he finds a mysterious companion. These thirty-six moving stories of ordinary people who encounter extraordinary moments of warmth, tenderness, companionship, and grace in their lives once again show why Ruskin Bond is India’s most beloved writer.
4. There Is No Misery Where There Is No Want: Life Lessons from India’s Spiritual Masters
What is the path to a joyful, peaceful, fulfilling life? What do we need to transform the way in which we lead our everyday lives? How do we cope with pain, unhappiness, fear, desire, loss, and bad luck? The world’s greatest philosophers, gurus, and spiritual savants have pondered these questions for millennia and have come up with insights and answers that will help us lead better lives.
This volume collects together profound wisdom from some of the world’s greatest teachers including Swami Vivekananda, Adi Shankara, Lal Ded, Hazrat Nizamuddin, the Buddha, and others.
5. Of Spins, Sixes and Surprises: 50 Defining Moments in Indian Cricket
By Shom Biswas and Titash Banerjea
Nothing comes even remotely close to the excitement that cricket evokes in both the young and the old in India. Cricket in India is a religion, with cricketers revered as gods. While we have grown up watching cricket on our televisions, we have felt the tension, euphoria and joy that cricketers on the field may have experienced while playing.
Of Spins, Sixes and Surprises: 50 Defining Moments in Indian Cricket is a humble attempt at reliving those occasions. Authors Shom Biswas and Titash Banerjea present an amazing journey of Indian cricket, from the time when the greatest Indian cricketer of his time (Ranji) used to represent another country (England) to a time when India has become the nerve centre of the world game. The emergence of women’s cricket also forms a key theme.
6. Kanchenjunga Whispers: Legends and Tales from The Elgin
By Rea Oberoi
Enchanting tales and vivid storytelling at its best from the land of Kanchenjunga.
Rea Oberoi takes you on an unforgettable adventure through a land of sacred, wish-fulfilling places; countless legends; supernatural presence; and mysterious myths. Daughter of legendary hotelier—the late Brij Raj ‘Diamond’ Oberoi, who took the Elgin group of heritage hotels to new heights—Rea weaves a narrative that immediately transports you to the Himalayas and stirs your wanderlust.
In Kanchenjunga Whispers, discover forest shamans, bodhisattvas, hidden tribes, gods and goddesses and travel with them to the valley of flowers, the ruins of an ancient kingdom, sacred forests, magical caverns and mythical monasteries. Venture into the land of the thunderbolt and rolling tea gardens and join the author as she forages for Himalayan gold and tries to cross over to Shambhala—the land of enlightened beings.
With hair-raising accounts that unfold as darkness settles over the misty mountains and road trips that take you to uncharted realms, this collection will also give you a glimpse of the author’s Himalayan home, where Sansar (the visible world) meets Moksha (the soul).
Join Rea on this fulfilling journey of self-discovery and surround yourself with soaring mountains and the sweet aroma of the tea gardens.
7. Green Pearls of India: Tracing the Roots of Sacred Trees
By V. Sundararaju
It is undeniable that primitive man worshipped trees with singular impartiality in reverence of their life-giving nature. Throughout the world, every culture has formed enduring bonds with trees, and in appreciation of their inherent spiritual value, some have even been singled out for special veneration. India is no different. Here, too, people, irrespective of religion and race, revere and worship trees.
In Green Pearls of India: Tracing the Roots of Sacred Trees, V. Sundararaju captures the essence and beauty of 27 such sacred trees. He vividly describes the religious, social, economic, ecological, cultural and medicinal values of each and explores the stories and legends associated with them. From the origins of the ‘germ-killer’ tree and ‘sorrow-removing’ tree to the trees associated with Lord Shiva and Gautam Buddha, this meticulously researched and richly illustrated book o˜ers us a glimpse of the devotion that our ancient culture has shown towards sacred trees.
A must-read for environmentalists, scholars of religion and ecology, and people interested in the continued connection between spiritual practice and the natural environment, this book not only appreciates the special place that these trees have in our lives but also underscores the fact that communion with nature is indispensable for healing our planet.
8. Gain Your Financial Freedom with the 1% Formula
By Deepak Mullick
Can you ever stop working for money?
Do you know how much corpus is enough?
How do you turn your investments into a sustainable income source?
If your answer is no to any of these, then you need to pick up this book now!
Most people end up exhausting their lives chasing money as an end goal without focusing on turning their investments into a sustainable income source, consequently, ignoring other dimensions of life such as health, family and personal passions.
In Gain Your Financial Freedom, investment veteran Deepak Mullick
• simplifies planning framework for financial freedom,
• analyses asset classes and makes a distinction between ones that can earn you your financial freedom from the ones that will cost you your freedom, and
• Recommends a simple mutual funds-based approach to participate in Indian equities for an accelerated path to financial freedom.
Gain Your Financial Freedom also contains stories of people who used the 1% formula and created a nest egg without giving in to stress, anxiety or overwork. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants long-term wealth creation and a comfortable lifestyle off that wealth so that they don’t have to keep working for money.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.