JADOOWALLAHS, JUGGLERS AND JINNS: A MAGICAL HISTORY OF INDIA
India’s association with magic goes back thousands of years – from the seals of Mohenjodaro that depicted sorcerers and yogis, to the jugglers and acrobats that dazzled spectators at the courts of Hindu maharajas and Mughal emperors. Tales were told of ropes being thrown up in the air, strong enough for a boy to climb; of fakirs being buried alive for months and brought back to life; and of sanperas charming deadly cobras with their flutes. In the early nineteenth century, touring Indian magicians mesmerized audiences abroad, prompting generations of Western illusionists to emulate them.
Jadoowallahs, Jugglers and Jinns; A Magical History of India tells the story of how Indian magic descended from the domain of the gods to become part of a daily ritual and popular entertainment, and its transformation from the street to the stage culminating with the rise of the great PC Sorcar Sr.
Drawing on ancient religious texts, colonial records, newspaper reports, journals and memoirs of Western and Indian magicians, John Zubrzycki offers us a vibrant narrative on Indian magic from ancient times to the present day.
LOVE SONG OF MAYA K
The Love Song of Maya K is a collection of 13 short stories with curious titles and everyday characters that live in either Delhi or Kolkata — cities of the author’s residence now and before. What goes on in the mind of a salesgirl at a perfume store in a mall in Kolkata, why does a high-flying advertising professional in her late forties fantasise about liaisons with her cabbie, or what prompts a woman from an affluent family to jump borders of class and religion to marry a man who lives with his mother and sister in a dingy house and survives on a meagre salary? Raha also deals with paedophilia, mob lynching, and domestic violence, but never gets preachy.
It is immensely readable and abounds with characters you could easily find around yourselves in the street or in the metro or in your shared cab.
MANNEQUIN: WORKING WOMEN IN INDIA’S GLAMOUR INDUSTRY
With Mannequin, Manjima Bhattacharya takes readers into the world of fashion in India to show what the work of a model is like and the difficulties it entails, from the struggle by trade unions to organize models to the fundamental question of whether fashion objectifies women or acknowledges their agency. Spanning from the 1960s to the present, and taking account of changes from globalization and shifting beauty standards, Mannequin is an up-to-date account of fashion’s forgotten workers.
Her ethnographic approach allows a variety of details to emerge — where the women are from, how they got into the industry; what kind of modelling they did, reactions to their choices — and offers the reader a look at what lies behind the glamour. The myth of all models being alike is exploded in ‘The Fantasy Body’. Each medium — print, television or ramp — requires a different body or face type.
MAN WITH THE WHITE BEARD
-PROF. SHAH ALAM KHAN
“Man With The White Beard” is the first novel by Prof. Shah Alam Khan, an Orthopaedics surgeon in the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) . The book takes us through some of the most horrific moments of recent Indian history. All the characters in the book represent a particular moment in Indian history. The anti-Sikh Pogrom of 1984, the 2002 Gujarat Pogrom and the Kandhamal riot against Christians bear flesh and blood in its characters. They all come together under one roof and the novel is a cathartic journey to their past. As Nitasha Kaul has observed in the blurb of the book, “Reading this novel, it is hard not to reflect about how the dreams of a people transform into the nightmares of a nation”.
BENGALI CULTURE OVER A THOUSAND YEARS
-GHULAM MURSHID AND TRANSLATED BY SARBARI SINHA
Ghulam Murshid’s Bengali Culture over a Thousand Years is the first non-partisan and holistic discussion of Bengali culture. Written for the general reader, the language is simple and the style lucid. It shows how the individual ingredients of Bengali culture have evolved and found expression, in the context of political developments, and how certain individuals have moulded culture. Above all, the book presents the identity and special qualities of Bengali culture. The book was originally published in Bengali in Dhaka in 2006. This is the first English translation.
The book further checks the entry of unfounded myths and bigotries into intellectual space.
“Contrary to what we think, it is not easy to describe ‘culture’, nor is it easy to write the cultural history. Writing the history of Bengali culture is even more difficult because Bengali society is truly plural in its nature, made even more so by its political division,” notes the author.