Tag: Indian literature

  • Speaking Volumes: Swadeshi Essence and asli nationalism

    Speaking Volumes: Swadeshi Essence and asli nationalism

    The firm of Kundoo & Chatterjee, of Cornwallis Street, Calcutta, did a brisk trade in “Swadeshi Essence” in the 1920s. They offered essence of moharaja bukul, moharaja dildaria (“it really makes mind cheerful”), motia, chameli, white rose, cherry and Indian Bouquet: “It is in no way inferior to the Foreign Cashmere Bouquet and is long-lasting.” […]

  • Speaking Volumes: A Thousand Tongues

    Speaking Volumes: A Thousand Tongues

    (Published in the Business Standard, March 30th, 2015) How long have Indians been arguing about language? For centuries, in some style. Shankar Goapl Tulpule records that it was roughly seven to eight centuries ago that Mukundaraja prefaced his great work, Vivekasindhu, with a defiant excuse for using Marathi instead of Sanskrit: “If common trees can […]

  • Booklove: Rajendra Yadav’s last joust

    Booklove: Rajendra Yadav’s last joust

    (Published in the Business Standard, October 30, 2013) In the 1990s, the heart of Indian publishing in English and Hindi could be mapped across Daryaganj. Rickety stairs, often half-rotted, led to establishments as varied as the Marwari Library, the old offices of Rupa & Co, Cambridge University Press, and Hans, the Hindi literary magazine that […]

  • Booklove: Behramji Malabari, Traveller to the Exotic West

    Booklove: Behramji Malabari, Traveller to the Exotic West

    From Punch: Sky signs of London, 1890s. (A shorter version of this was published in the Business Standard, August 13, 2013) It would take an intrepid novelist to invent the life of Behramji Malabari, whose 160th birth anniversary falls in 2013. My own imagination quails at the thought of creating a formidable Hindu reformer who […]

  • How To Read in Indian: out in 2014

    How To Read in Indian: out in 2014

    How To Read In Indian is about books, and their magic, and why we still love reading so much in the 21st century.Coming soon–to be published by HarperCollins India in 2014! From the title essay, How To Read in Indian: “The Census 2001 figures, recently released, revealed that English had effectively become India’s second language, […]

  • Booklove: All About Hatterji (50 Writers, 50 Books)

    Booklove: All About Hatterji (50 Writers, 50 Books)

    (From 50 Writers, 50 Books, edited by Pradeep Sebastian and Chandra Siddan, HarperCollins. I wrote this for Pradeep back in 2010, when he called very excited about the idea of an anthology where writers from across (and outside) the country would talk about their favourite books, characters, landscapes. He and Chandra Siddan looked for books […]