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Sayantan Ghosh

Sayantan Ghosh

Columnistsayantansunnyghosh@gmail.com

The writer is an editor and lives in Delhi.

By Sayantan Ghosh

The Adivasi Will Not Dance, by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar: Lest We Forget

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar for his debut novel, but it was in his second book The Adivasi Will Not Dance – this relentlessly readable collection of stories – that I felt he fully came into his own as a writer.

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Dear Margaret: On Atwood's birthday, looking back at Dearly

The great Margaret Atwood turns 83 today, November 18. To celebrate her on this occasion, we turn towards the quieter, more solemn and yet deliciously satisfying side of her – her poetry. To be a little more specific, her most recent collection of poems dedicated to her late partner and published in 2020 – Dearly.

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Alan Moore's V for Vendetta continues to be a 'pièce de résistance'

There hasn't been a fifth of November ever since I first read V for Vendetta that I haven't thought of the phrase: "Remember, remember the fifth of November of gunpowder treason and plot." Hence, it only made sense that it is written about this week.

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King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan, the Emperor of Impossible Dreams

Anupama Chopra’s intimate and spirited biography of Khan, published in 2007 (which was also one of Khan’s most important years in films), finds the sweet spot between celebrating the actor and studying the rise of the quintessential song and dance Bollywood film into a global phenomenon.

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Audition by Ryu Murakami: Be careful what you wish for

Rounding up the Halloween month with one of the most visceral, terrifying novels ever written about the human race. This slim novel doesn’t waste any time and jumps straight into the story of Aoyama, a Tokyo-based documentary film-maker, who is leading an achingly solitary life after the death of his wife seven years ago.

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Reef by Romesh Gunesekera: A Sea of Innocence

The world has suddenly sat up and taken notice of contemporary Sri Lankan literature this week. No prizes for guessing that it’s because the most coveted literary prize, and arguably the most well-known, has been awarded to a Sri Lankan author.

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Gulzar in conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir: A Bard’s Eye View

What can be said about Gulzar that hasn’t already been said. Nearly every conversation among friends around poetry, the Urdu language or Hindi film songs—and sometimes even mundane details of life—tends to bring Gulzar’s name to our mind. It makes sense thus, that the story of Gulzar’s life unfolds before us in the form of a series of conversations with the author of this volume, Nasreen Munni Kabir.

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The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaVelle: Invisible Monsters

It’s October already and officially Halloween month. Of course, the festival isn’t celebrated here in India, but thanks to pop culture infiltrations we are not far removed from it any longer. So, it only makes sense to read something that not only is an immersive experience but also sends a shiver down your spine this month.

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Andrew Sean Greer's Less: Journey to the Centre of the Heart 

The sequel to Andrew Sean Greer’s now celebrated novel Less released a few days ago to tremendous excitement worldwide. Less, which released to great acclaim in 2017, wasn’t an overnight success, but it went to win the Pulitzer Prize and found a wide readership eventually after coming out as a paperback. Pun unintended.

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Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy: Of novelists who survived

Earlier this week, author and poet Meena Kandasamy won the Hermann Kesten Prize given by the PEN Centre in Germany's Darmstadt – awarded annually to those who stand up for the rights of persecuted authors and journalists. Her entire body of work is so critical for every modern thinking reader to engage with, that one must not lose any opportunity to talk about it.

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The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid: Change is the only constant

The Last White Man is a retelling of sorts of Kafka's The Metamorphosis for the post-Covid generation. In Mohsin Hamid's fifth and most recent novel, a white man wakes up on an otherwise ordinary morning and discovers that he has turned dark. However, unlike Kafka, Hamid refuses to plant his protagonist as an exception in this 'nightmare'.

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Chinaman: Shehan Karunatilaka, hat-trick on debut

Maverick Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka's second novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida (2022), originally published in India as Chats with the Dead in 2020, has just been shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize for Fiction. But his first book Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, his breakout work, remains the most inventive debut novel to have come out of the subcontinent in many years.

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Shadow City: A woman walks alone in Kabul

Early on during her visit to Kabul where the author Taran N Khan took up the task of training Afghan journalists, she is advised never to walk in the city. This is a book that begins with her defiance.

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Burma Burma: Travelling around dictatorial worlds

Guy Delisle is a French-Canadian cartoonist-cum-memoirist who travelled around Asia (accompanied mostly by his wife, an administrator with Doctors Without Borders), and created four timeless graphic travelogues based on his experiences in North Korea, China, Israel, and, of course, Burma. This is about Burma Chronicles.

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Akhil Sharma's Family Life shows why all unhappy families are not alike

If a book can fill you with tenderness after you've laughed and cried with it for 200-odd pages, then it's a book worth remembering, revisiting. Akhil Sharma's Family Life is one of them.

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A Reading Diary: A year of magical reading

Alberto Manguel's A Reading Diary: A Year of Favourite Books is a library in prose form. A reader can stop at any of the numerous lists of books and authors catalogued here and simply search them on the internet to get immersed in a new world each time.

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About small and large things

The recently Booker Prize-longlisted novel by acclaimed writer Claire Keegan, Small Things Like These, follows a busy coal merchant in an Irish village in the 1980s just before Christmas, who unwittingly discovers a young woman “locked in a convent coal shed, leaking milk and mourning the loss of her baby.” The economy and precision of this slim novel – which is truly monumental in scope – is startling

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Christchurch terror attack: Why hate is the easiest emotion to embrace

Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, has rejected the message of hate, paving the path for a more accepting society. Can't we all do the same?

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In an age of fake news, why Tintin is the reporter-hero we need

Tintin was no macho Sunny Deol who'd beat his enemies to pulp for purely personal reasons. He believed in dialogue and seeking the truth. We'd do well to revisit this young journalist who just turned 90.

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How the food we eat shapes our existence

Food is more than just about how it looks and tastes. It's also about how we remember it.

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Delhi will forever be grateful to TM Krishna for freeing our 'caged' minds

The reason why the audience turned up that day was to ensure that an artist’s voice is heard and discussed, and not silenced by vicious trolling.

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Why we love Shah Rukh Khan: He's one of us

The superstar is first one of the masses, from us, inspiring us, never afraid to love us back. This will always make him special

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Why shouldn’t Ranveer Singh wear a lehenga at his wedding? Lessons more men need to learn from him

Would you be as shocked if Deepika Padukone wore a tuxedo at her reception?

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Why we must not give up on our local bookshops

Imagine Mussoorie without its legendary Cambridge Book Depot where Ruskin Bond still drops by to sign books.

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Bangalore molestation incident is a grim reminder of India's fragile masculinity

The time of the day, or night, when a woman should be outside her home or inside, is dependent on only one thing. Whenever she chooses to be.

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What Bob Dylan’s Nobel win means for ‘literature’

If award committees can step out of their comfort zones, why shouldn’t writers around the world too try to experiment with their form and style?

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