This month is full of literary treats for Indian bookworms as critically acclaimed authors like Arundhati Roy and Amitav Ghosh are slated to publish their works. Apart from their books, there will be a plethora of book releases on topics ranging from mythology, crime to fiction and climate change.
Here is a list of books that you may want to consider adding to your bookshelves in June.
1.My Seditious Heart: A collection of Arundhati Roy’s non-fiction writings, My Seditious Heart is a book that follows the author’s dedicated journey as an activist, after her debut as a novelist with the book, God of Small Things.
Through her essays written over the last two decades, Roy discusses the idea of nationality, freedom, human rights and justice. This collection is reminiscent of the long political activism of Roy and begins with The End of Imagination, which was written in 1998, in which the author mourned the ‘end of the world’ at the wake of India’s Nuclear test, and ends with an essay also titled, My Seditious Heart, which was published in 2016.
2. Gun Island: A fiction spanning over years, this book, written by Amitav Ghosh follows the journey of Deen Dutta, a dealer of rare books, whose quiet world is turned upside down as a strange turn of events makes him embark on a journey from India to Los Angeles, via Venice.
It’s a story of the world at its edge, but more than anything, it is also about hope. The book has some remarkable women characters too. This book will be Ghosh’s return to fiction, after 2015’s novel Flood of Fire (The Ibis Trilogy).
3. Wisdom of the Gods for You and Me, My Gita and My Hanuman Chalisa: In this omnibus edition, mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik moves beyond stories of gods, and tries to explain the scriptures to readers in a simple and meaningful way. On one hand, Pattanaik tries to simplify the Bhagwat Gita and make it more accessible to people, on the other, with Hanuman Chalisa, he tries to delve into the deeper meanings of its text that are often overlooked.
Pattanaik, who is the author of books like Ramayana versus Mahabharata: My Playful Analysis and Business Sutra: A Very Indian Approach to Management, has written over 40 books on how tales, symbolism as well as rituals that amalgamate in myths of old and new cultures.
4. A Short History of Indian Railways: This book, as the name suggests, maps the journey of Indian railways from the very beginning. With interesting trivia like how India’s first steam engine was used to run driving mills in the factory (instead of running on tracks), or how the locomotive engine for its maiden rail run from Bombay to Thane was pulled by 200 coolies on streets, this book by Rajendra Aklekar is the curated history of the railways, filled with anecdotes and stories.
Aklekar is also the author of Halt Station India and India’s Railways Man: A Biography of E. Sreedharan.
5. Narasimha, The Mahaavatar Trilogy Book 1: This book claims to re-imagine the fourth avatar of Vishu, Narashimha — part lion, part man-god. Written by Kevin Missal, this is the story of Narashimha, a warrior, who has now renounced war and lives a low key life as a physician, in a village.
Things begin to change when an acquaintance from the past resurfaces into his life, seeking help to end the tyranny of blind usurper, Andhaka. Needless to say, the fate of the world rests on Narasimha’s decision. A mythological fiction, this book has many characters from Hindu mythology like Prahlad, Hiranyakashyap and the most fabled weapon in Indian history — Brahmastra. This book is the first installment of The Mahaavatar Trilogy.
6. Air (Pollution, Climate Change and India’s Choice Between Policy and Pretence): Written by Dean Spears, who co-authored the book, Where India Goes: Abandoned Toilets, Stunted Development with Diane Coffey, this book prescribes how some smart policies which can ensure healthier air for us and our next generation.
This book challenges the outdated notion that better environmental policies and economic progress cannot be achieved together, and depicts how only few quick steps, and strategies can bring down air pollution instantly.
7. Walking the Roadless Road Exploring the Tribes of Nagaland: Tracing the migratory history of the Naga tribes — both mythical and historical — the author, Easterine Kire, tries to compile the comprehensive history of the tribe.
A Non-Fiction, Walking the Roadless Road Exploring the Tribes of Nagaland delves into the origins of the Naga tribe — from their forest-dwelling days to the time when territories and villages were formed. The book also discusses the various struggles that the Naga society has faced over the ages, as well as the transformation the community has undergone in the twenty-first century.
8. The Deadly Dozen, India’s Most Notorious Serial Killers: From a thug, who during the 1800s slaughtered more than 900 people in India to a schoolteacher who murdered several lovers with cyanide or a mom who taught her daughter to kill her children, this book on serial killers promises to give a chilling account of the deaths that shocked India.
Although it is the popular perception that serial killings, as a phenomenon, is a derivative of the western culture, this book proves that India too, has had some really terrifying and psychotic individuals who systematically killed several people in cold blood.
9. Rivers Remembers, #CHENNAIRAINS and the Shocking Truth of a Manmade Flood: This book retells the story of human greed to grow and expand, even at the cost of the environment. In India, people have eaten into the old routes of rivers, and lakes which is why, when these water bodies retrace their old routes, floods happen — as it did in Mumbai (2005), Surat (2006), Srinagar (2014) and Kerala (2018) — resulting in widespread devastation and even deaths. Possibility of such happenings is quite real in any city or Indian state today.
In this book, the author reveals the shocking truth of how human’s inconsiderate attitude towards the environment has the potential of drowning cities. Filled with stories of people who have faced the nightmares of being caught in such floods, Krupa Ge, the author, depicts the resilience of these people, as well as the faultlines of our own society — especially the caste or class-based discrimination — that such crisis always expose.
10. The Courtesan, The Mahatma & The Italian Brahmin, Tales from Indian History: This book is a collection of essays written by Manu S Pillai in which the author unveils the dramatic and action-filled lives of Indians throughout history.
From how a Muslim deity who found her way into a Hindu temple to a courtesan who turned into a warrior princess to another who sang for the gramophone — this book brings many interesting anecdotes from Indian history that time has expunged from the popular narratives.