Translations, young India & health on book shelf

Updated: Feb 11, 2012, 18:34 PM IST

New Delhi: This weekend, the bookcart wheels a medley of thoughtful titles on a diverse range of subjects.

1. "A Life Incomplete"; Written by Nanak Singh/Translated by Navdeep Suri; Published by Harper Collins India; Priced at Rs.299

All that sustains Kuldeep Singh through his dark days in jail, where he is serving a term for participating in anti-British agitations, are thoughts of his beautiful wife and the dream of going home. But he returns to find that his wife has died, leaving behind their infant child. As his world collapses around him, he negotiates the divergent pulls: a holy man who advocates renunciation; his childhood friend Saroj, who has always loved him; and the tempestuous Prakash who hides an unsavoury past.

Sahitya Akademi Award-winning author Nanak Singh draws on personal experiences to create a portrait of Punjab in the 1920s.

2. "Dolls Wedding and Other Stories"; Written by Chaso/Edited and Translated by David Dhulman and Velcheru Narayana Rao; Priced Rs.299

The stories by the finest short-story writer in modern Telugu are nuanced, hard-hitting and marked by the total absence of sentimentality. A tightly constructed plot relies on a minimalist portrayal of characters - among them beggars, peasants, widows, children and the upwardly mobile middle class - whose pragmatism drives them to break convention and fight for their survival.

The aged auditor`s young wife in "Got to Go to Eluru` seduces an adolescent boy in order to produce a son who will protect her status when she is widowed; in `Firewood`, a peasant girl overcomes fear and speaks out when she is falsely accused of theft. A realist devoid of ideologies, Chaso was deeply interested in the inner world of people around him.

3. "The Butterfly Generation"; Written by Palash Krishna Mehrotra; Published by Rupa & Co; Priced Rs.338

The book paints a compelling portrait of young urban Indians today, wherein the memories and experiences of a bygone socialist era are contrasted with the sights and sounds of a contemporary Americanized India.

Part memoir, part travelogue, part commentary, "The Butterfly Generation" is the first book about new India, written from an insider`s perspective. Half of India`s population is under the age of 25 and by 2020 the average Indian will be only 29 years old and it is their stories that this books tells.

The stories include that of a doomed call centre worker, a drug dealer on the make, an airline pilot, Versova scriptwriters, watching Doordarshan in the eighties, discovering pop music on short wave radio, the coming of MTV, the rise of heavy metal bands, the Gay Pride March, Valentine`s Day, ragging in Indian hostels, McJobs and the single life.

4. "Adivasis and the Raj: Socio-Economic Transition of the Hos 1820-1932"; Written by Sanjukta DasGupta; Published by Orient BlackSwan; Priced Rs.695

While recent research on Adivasis under colonial rule tends to focus on issues of identity politics, categories and definitions, it is important to emphasise that the histories of adivasis were shaped by the constantly evolving British policy towards them, their own unique features, socio-cultural traditions, and the nature of their integration within the colonial state, which in turn determined their self-definitions and their relations with others.

This book brings back a focus on the colonial history of adivasis and discusses the issue of their identity against this background. It is a study of the Hos of Chhotanagpur from 1820, when they first came into contact with the British, to 1932, when their protests took the form of religious reform movements in an attempt to develop a distinct tribal identity.

5. "The End of Illness"; Written by David B. Agus; Published by Simon & Schuster (for India); Priced Rs.599

The book is a call for all of us to become our own personal health advocates, and a dramatic departure from orthodox thinking.

In "The End of Illness", David B. Agus, MD, one of the world`s leading cancer doctors, researchers, and technology innovators, tackles these fundamental questions, challenging long-held wisdoms and dismantling misperceptions about what "health" means. With a blend of storytelling, research, and provocative ideas on health, Agus presents an eye-opening picture of the human body and all of the ways it works-and fails-showing us how a new perspective on our individual health.