The Future in the Past: Essays and Reflections : The Tribune India


The Future in the Past: Essays and Reflections

The Future in the Past: Essays and Reflections

The Future in the Past: Essays and Reflections by Romila Thapar. Aleph. Pages 326. Rs 799

Book Title: The Future in the Past: Essays and Reflections

Author: Romila Thapar

Written over the last 50 years, ‘The Future in the Past’ brings together Romila Thapar’s essays on issues and ideas that have preoccupied her throughout her career. Among them are the use and misuse of history, the myths surrounding the coming of the Aryans, religious fundamentalism in the study of society, the overt and the insidious attempts by right-wing elements to pervert Indian culture, variants of the Ramayana, the importance of museums, why dissent is important to democracy, the role of the public intellectual, and much more. Central to the arguments in these essays (versions of which first appeared in Seminar magazine started by her brother Romesh and his wife, Raj) is an analysis of how the past permeates the present and influences the future.

Magadh by Shrikant Verma. Translated from Hindi by Rahul Soni. Westland. Pages 117. Rs 599

Shrikant Verma (1931–86) was a central figure in the Nayi Kavita movement in Hindi literature. He won numerous awards for his writing, including the Sahitya Akademi Award for ‘Magadh’ (posthumously) in 1987. ‘Magadh’, in fact, was his crowning achievement and is widely regarded as one of the most important works of modern Indian poetry. A chorus of narrators — commoners, statesmen, nameless wanderers — pieces together the histories of ancient cities and kingdoms on the Indian subcontinent, their rise to splendour, their decline and eventual fall. Rahul Soni’s landmark translation stays faithful to the spareness and the haunting, incantatory cadences of the original, revealing how startlingly prescient and relevant ‘Magadh’ remains even today.

The Woman Who Climbed Trees by Smriti Ravindra. HarperCollins. Pages 421. Rs 599

‘The Woman Who Climbed Trees’ is a coming-of-age novel about Meena. She is 14 when her parents marry her to Manmohan, a 21-year-old Nepali boy. Manmohan is in college and spends most of the year in Kathmandu, far away from the little village Meena is confined to, leaving her alone with her demanding mother-in-law as she gradually finds comfort and love in her sister-in-law. Blending realism, ghost stories, myths and folktales, the novel accompanies the daring and unflinching Meena — and eventually her daughter — as she navigates life in a strange place, and struggles to manage her new family’s expectations. The haunting novel has been written by Smriti Ravindra, a Nepali-Indian writer. This is her first novel.

homeless: growing up lesbian and dyslexic in india by K Vaishali. Simon & Schuster. Pages 240. Rs 499

When Vaishhali came out before her mother, she hadn’t realised she would have to leave her Bombay home for this. In a dingy, insect-ridden yet rent-free hostel room in Hyderabad with a door that doesn’t quite close, she tries to make the best of the situation by writing a book about her experiences. As she writes, she finds the past has a way of catching up with her, even as she explores her dyslexia and homosexuality; falling in love and recovering from a harrowing breakup; academic failure, loneliness, and homophobia; living with sickness, anxiety, depression, and her caste, gender, and body. ‘Homeless: Growing Up Lesbian and Dyslexic in India’ is the story of her relationship with her many truths and ‘the truths of many young people in India’.