A coffin-maker and a clock that can make time go backwards bring magical realism to this novel

June 21, 2021 0 Comments

The bane of a coffin maker is the absence of a regular income. Hence, he fights a losing battle with a life lacking stability and security. A stretched calendar, seeming longer than twelve penurious months, is his working life. The black and red colour variations on the calendar hold no meaning for him and he …

‘Shamal Days’: Marked by sorrow and self-loathing, this novel of neuroses is an absorbing read

June 12, 2021 0 Comments

One of the questions I ask myself when I’m starting a new review is, “What was this book about?” Shamal Days, by Sabin Iqbal, is harder than many to answer this question about. It is, fundamentally, a very sad book. Sad is too simplistic a word – this book aches, almost every page of it, …

Devdutt Pattanaik’s new book explains how Hindu wedding rituals contain many aggregated truths

May 25, 2021 0 Comments

In Hindu temples, gods and goddesses get married. Marriage is as much a divine rite of passage (samskara) as a human one. It marks the union of matter (prakriti) and spirit (purusha). Matter, because it brings in new wealth, status, pleasure, security, and ushers in the next generation, who can inherit the family name and …

‘He was what was called in those days a sports type’: Ram Guha through the eyes of Rukun Advani

April 29, 2021 0 Comments

It may be best for me not to begin my recollections of Ram along the standard template which recommends the phrase “The first time I met…” The reason is that our first meeting was inconsequential. Apparently, we met on a college badminton court forty-five years ago, in about July 1974. Since Ram did not go …

Google Translate is sexist. What it needs is a little gender-sensitivity training

April 5, 2021 0 Comments

Online translation tools have helped us learn new languages, communicate across linguistic borders, and view foreign websites in our native tongue. But the artificial intelligence behind them is far from perfect, often replicating rather than rejecting the biases that exist within a language or a society. Such tools are especially vulnerable to gender stereotyping because …

Meena Kandasamy’s documentary on Sri Lanka’s women Tamil warriors is now her latest book

April 3, 2021 0 Comments

Tamil nationalism grew stronger within the Tamil diaspora every day even as its flames died down with the end of the prolonged war in Sri Lanka in 2009. The end was not a quiet one, and it was not a war with a clear beginning or end, writes academician Sharika Thiranagama. What happens when you …

Missed opportunity: What the debate about Amanda Gorman’s translators is really about

March 20, 2021 0 Comments

Translation is the territory of paradox. One of the central paradoxes, and one which runs through popular views of translation as much as it has occupied translation theorists, is the notion that a good translation is one where the reader cannot tell that it is a translation. In other words, a translation proves its worth, …