Books of the week: From a translation of Phoolsunghi to Robert Elgood’s The Maharaja of Jodhpur’s Guns, our picks

Aarushi Agrawal
·4-min read

We love stories, and even in the age of Netflix-and-chill, there's nothing like a good book that promises a couple of hours of absorption €" whether curled up in bed, in your favourite coffeehouse, or that long (and tiresome) commute to work. Every week, we'll have a succinct pick of books, across diverse genres, that have been newly made available for your reading pleasure. Get them wherever you get your books €" the friendly neighbourhood bookseller, e-retail website, chain store €" and in whatever form you prefer. Happy reading!

For more of our weekly book recommendations, click here.

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€" FICTION

Phoolsunghi By Pandey Kapil; translated by Gautam Choubey Penguin Random House India | Rs 399 | 192 pages

Academic Gautam Choubey translates Phoolsunghi by Pandey Kapil, a giant of Bhojpuri literature. It follows Dhelabai, the most popular tawaif of Muzaffarpur. When she slights Babu Haliwant Sahay, he builds a cage to trap her forever. Soon she begins a new life of luxury. One day, she hears the voice of Mahendra Misir and falls in love. He feels for her too, but the lovers must bear the brunt of circumstances and their own actions which repeatedly pull them apart.

Read more about the book here.

Principles of Prediction and Other Stories By Anushka Jasraj Westland Publications | Rs 499 | 192 pages

Writer and two-time Asia Regional Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner Anushka Jasraj's first book is a collection of short stories. In one story, a weather forecaster tries to maintain her sanity as a storm threatens. In another, a woman runs away from home and husband to live with the lion-tamer Rajan. Another follows Cassata as cat-napper and elephant-kidnapper. The award-winning 'Radio Story' brings together politics, nostalgia, love, and violence.

€" MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

Hamid: The Story of My Captivity, Survival and Freedom By Hamid Ansari, with Geeta Mohan Penguin Random House India | Rs 399 | 376 pages

Journalist Geeta Mohan writes with Hamid Ansari the story of his captivity and freedom. In 2012, he suddenly disappeared. Investigation uncovered that he'd gone to save a girl from forced marriage. But he was betrayed by friends in Pakistan, became embroiled in allegations that labelled him a spy, and what followed was years of investigations, solitary confinement, and a struggle for survival. In 2018, he finally touched Indian soil again.

Read more about the book here.

A Patchwork Quilt: A Collage of My Creative Life By Sai Paranjpye HarperCollins India | Rs 599 | 452 pages

In this memoir, film, theatre, and television personality Sai Paranjpye retells her life story. Starting at All India Radio and graduating from the National School of Drama, winning the Sahitya Akademi award for her Marathi translation of Naseeruddin Shah's memoir, directing the 1981 cult classic Chashme Baddoor, and critically acclaimed films like Sparsh and Saaz, winning the Padma Bhushan and several other awards €" are among the instances she recounts.

Read more about the book here.

The Making of Varavara Rao: an intimate portrait by a nephew By N Venugopal LeftWord Books | Rs 125 | 96 pages

Writer N Venugopal presents poet Varavara Rao's life and letters. The latter has been in jail for two years, without trial, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. Over the past five decades, he's been charged with similar crimes in 25 cases, yet none of the charges could be proved and he's always been acquitted. Besides being a poet, he's also a public speaker, teacher, translator, and chronicler of social history, among other interests.

Read more about the book here.

€" NON-FICTION

The Maharaja of Jodhpur's Guns By Robert Elgood Niyogi Books | Rs 4,500 | 368 pages

With over 350 images, historic arms expert Robert Elgood writes about historic Indian firearms and Rajput traditions related to hunting and war. He discusses the worldwide medieval diffusion of firearms technology and the Arab, Ottoman, European, and Chinese influences on the development of Indian firearms. He details the Jodhpur collection and the several maharajas who have added matchlocks, sporting guns, shotguns, revolvers, and more.

Read more about the book here.

Colaba: The Diamond at the Tip of Mumbai By Shabnam Minwalla Speaking Tiger | Rs 499 | 184 pages

Writer Shabnam Minwalla presents a biography of Colaba, the southernmost locality of Mumbai. She details colonial rivalries and dowry negotiations, talks of industrialists who transformed the area during the 1860s cotton boom, and how the neighbourhood got back on its feet after the 26/11 terrorist attack. She also digs into three generations of family memory, introducing Cusrow Baug's Parsis, Causeway's hawkers, Sindhis who pioneered cooperative housing societies, musicians, artists, writers, and more.

Read more about the book here.

Also See: Books of the week: From Barack Obama's A Promised Land to A Foot in the Door, our picks

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