Books of the week: From Christoph Ransmayr's Cox to Krishnabhabini Das' A Bengali Lady in England, our picks

Aarushi Agrawal
·4 min read

We love stories, and even in the age of Netflix-and-chill, there's nothing like a good book that promises a couple of hours of absorption €" whether curled up in bed, in your favourite coffeehouse, or that long (and tiresome) commute to work. Every week, we'll have a succinct pick of books, across diverse genres, that have been newly made available for your reading pleasure. Get them wherever you get your books €" the friendly neighbourhood bookseller, e-retail website, chain store €" and in whatever form you prefer. Happy reading!

For more of our weekly book recommendations, click here.

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€" FICTION

Cox: Or, The Course of Time By Christoph Ransmayr; translated by Simon Pare Seagull Books | Rs 799 | 224 pages

Switzerland-based translator Simon Pare translates Austrian award-winning author Christoph Ransmayr's novel into English. It follows Qiánlóng, the emperor of China, who invites the 18th-century clockmaker Alister Cox to his court in Beijing. The Englishman is to build machines that mark the passing of time as a child or condemned man might experience it. He's then requested to build a clock capable of measuring eternity. Amid evil court gossip, Cox sets to work, wondering if he can ever escape this gilded cage.

Read more about the book here.

Essential Items: and Other Tales from a Land in Lockdown By Udayan Mukherjee Bloomsbury India | Rs 499 | 272 pages

Author and journalist Udayan Mukherjee's collection of short stories examines the human experience during the COVID-19 lockdown. In one story, a British climber stranded in the Himalayan border town Munsiyari forms a bond with his host's seven-year-old son. In another, two funeral workers at a Banaras ghat try to work their way out of the dwindling cremation business. Another story sees a domestic worker on paid leave tackling the changing landscape on the city's margins.

Read more about the book here. Read Firstpost's review here.

€" MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

It's All in Your Head, M By Manjiri Indurkar Westland Publications | Rs 399 | 232 pages

Writer Manjiri Indurkar's memoir details the trauma and abuse she faced as a child, her mental health challenges, and focuses on love and acceptance as self-care. She was in her 20s and living away from home when she realised that something wasn't right. Her childhood in Jabalpur had been perfect. So why was her body telling her otherwise? She realised her body could contain its secrets no longer. She needed to address the violence of her past, even while balancing her life and career.

A Bengali Lady in England By Krishnabhabini Das; translated by Nabanita Sengupta Shambhabi €" The Third Eye Imprint | Rs 500 | 288 pages

English professor at Sarsuna College Dr Nabanita Sengupta presents an annotated translation of Englandey Bangamahila, the first piece of travel writing by a Bengali woman, Krishnabhabini Das, in England, published in 1885. Twenty-year-old Das, a housewife from an orthodox Hindu family, went against social norms, travelling abroad, educating herself, and not adhering to prevalent views of motherhood. It also wasn't normal for a woman of the colonised race to criticise the British as boldly as Das did.

Read more about the book here.

Dust of the Caravan By Anis Kidwai; translated by Ayesha Kidwai Zubaan Books | Rs 420 | 266

JNU's linguistics professor Ayesha Kidwai translates a selection of her grandmother Anis Kidwai's writings. Anis, a writer, social activist committed to secularism and minority rights, and member of the Rajya Sabha, documents her journey as a Muslim woman in the 20th century, from her childhood in rural Awadh to the birth of the national movement, Partition and its aftermath, and more.

Read more about the book here.

€" NON-FICTION

India Tomorrow: Conversations with the Next-Generation Political Leaders By Pradeep Chhibber and Harsh Shah Oxford University Press India | Rs 795 | 340 pages

University of California's professor of political science Pradeep Chhibber and MBA student at Harvard Business School Harsh Shah interview 20 Indian politicians under the of 50, offering a view of contemporary Indian politics and its future. They ask each about their brand of politics; the local, national, and global issues they're concerned with; their goals and challenges; and the political future each imagines for their constituencies and country. Interviewees include Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Omar Abdullah, Aditya Thakeray, and more.

Read more about the book here.

€" YOUNG READERS

Queen of Earth By Devika Rangachari Penguin Random House India | Rs 299 | 200 pages

Historian and award-winning children's author Dr Devika Rangachari tells the story of the ninth-century queen of Odisha, Prithvimahadevi. She's the daughter of Somavamshi, king of Kosala, living a life dictated by rules laid out for women of the royal family. She's married to Shubhakaradeva, the Bhaumakara ruler and her father's enemy. Trying to adapt to a strange way of life, there seems to be no hope for her to fulfil her dream to becoming a great queen €" until suddenly, one day, there is.

Read more about the book here.

Also See: Books of the week: From Romila Thapar's Voices of Dissent to The Best Stories of Dhumketu, our picks

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Udayan Mukherjee's Essential Items captures glimpses from the pandemic, unsettlingly blurring fact-fiction divide

Read more on Arts & Culture by Firstpost.