The best and the mediocre
Tejwant Singh Gill
The Oxford India Anthology of Modern Urdu Literature (Vols. I & II)
Ed. Mehr Afsan Farooqi. OUP. Pages 325 and 349. Rs 795 each.
THESE volumes comprise selections of modern Urdu literature in English translation, including 130 authors, covering a span of almost 150 years. Mehr Afshan Farooqi, Professor of South Asian Literature at the University of Virginia, USA, has edited both the volumes. The selection of writings is indeed judicious. Though translation is good, some poetic pieces need to be replenished.

Books received

Catalysts of change
Jyoti Singh
Dreams Die Young
by C. V. Murali. Frog Books. Pages 95. Rs 145.
WHAT makes a terrorist? Is it a consequence of some kind of a despair rising out of the system? Is it a ramification of the pitilessness, deafness on part of the higher section of the society that aggravates the sense of incompatibility with the social structure? These are some of the pertinent questions that Murali’s debut novella, Dreams Die Young poses.

Saga of a young faith
Nirbhai Singh
History of Sikh Gurus Retold (Two Volumes)
by Surjit Singh Gandhi. Atlantic, New Delhi. Pages 1,171. Rs 2,100 (set)
THIS aptly-titled two-volume set devoutly retells the history of Sikh Gurus by garnering material from rare sources—secondary Persian, English and old primary Punjabi, etc. These sources are significant for updating missing historical gaps. Although these helped the author to authenticate prevalent traditions and legends, their historicity is not established. It doesn’t give the objective picture of the Gurus’ teachings and their lives. The Gurus had historical sense, which is the singular contribution to the Indian history.

Days of maharajas
B. S. Thaur
Itehas Riasat Jind
by Krishan Betab. Mahan Printers, Sangrur. Pages 134. Rs 600.
THE book discusses the history of one of the Phulkian dynasty states, Jind, the other being Patiala and Nabha. All these princely states along with the states of Faridkot, Kapurthala and Nalagarh were made into one unit with the nomenclature of Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) in 1948.

Thinly-guised political story
Arun Gaur
We the People of India: A Story of Gangland Democracy
by Maloy Krishna Dhar. Vitasta, New Delhi. Pages X+443. Rs 395.
SATYA Sarthi, the protagonist in the novel, muses: "I liked to deactivate the stinking system by entering into it and immobilising its components from within." To accomplish this mission and to oust the Bharti family that has been ruling India for 60 years, he raises, through his political training, R. K. Dharmi from the status of a billionaire fish-seller to the office of the Prime Minister.

Walking the razor’s edge
Aruti Nayar
Muslim Modernities
Tabish Khair’s Essays on Moderation and Mayhem
Compiled & edited by Renu Kaul Verma Vitasta Publishing. Pages 302. Rs 295
The first thing that puts this lucid collection of essays apart is the sincerity that shines through. There are no attempts to obfuscate issues, use complex arguments or jargon to confound the reader. It is this honesty that marks Tabish Khair’s writing as does the careful, rather cautious, use of language. He uses words with discretion and it is the predominance of reason, and not passion, that defines this anthology of 34 essays. He was born into a Muslim family at Gaya in Bihar and belonged within the community of Indian Muslims to a large minority, the middle class professional.

‘Writers should hold their heads high’
t comes as a surprise when noted writer Dalip Kaur Tiwana tells us that she takes no more than five to six days to write a novel.`A0 But then, the intensity she portrays through words has its root in the writer, who writes only when she feels strongly about something and throughout the process is completely`A0 absorbed in her characters, thinks of them, dreams of them and, writes about them.

Sons of Babur strikes a chord
Dipankar De Sarkar
ongress leader Salman Khurshid says he hopes his recently-written play on Mughal history will lead to the return of the remains of India’s last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Khurshid, former minister of state for external affairs, was speaking at a launch and reading of his play, Sons of Babur, in London. An emotional and dramatic reading in Urdu by former BBC presenter Pervez Alam was followed by queries from the audience on Bahadur Shah Zafar, who spent his last days in Myanmar after being exiled by the British for his role in the 1857 uprising.

Women in politics, and at its receiving end
Randeep Wadehra
Reservations for women
edited by Meena Dhanda; series editor: Rajeswari Sundar Rajan
Women Unlimited & Kali for Women.
Pages: xl+390. Rs 600
What decides a more hospitable political space for women? If it is education and socio-economic emancipation then women in the West should have been better off than those in, say, Asia – which is not the case. If democracy is the enabling force then it is bemusing to note that women in Pakistan and China enjoy better representation than their sisters in India.

  • Lali
    by BS Thapliyal.
    Selective & Scientific Books, N. Delhi. Pages 241. Rs 295

  • Pratibha Patil
    by Kumar Pankaj & Ayushma Sharma
    Diamond Books. Pages 176. Rs. 95