About FOOTPRINTS IN THE BAJRA (Cedar Books, New Delhi); By Nabina Das

"Fittingly for a poet, Nabina’s novel also has a strong lyrical core. 'Footprints in the Bajra' takes the homely image of the millet field as its central metaphor. ... But the novel is less a thriller about guerrilla action than a subtly colored character study of a fascinating group of individuals who intersect at various points in their lives ..." -- DEBRA CASTILLO, author, editor and distinguished professor (Cornell University, April 17, 2010).

Footprints in the Bajra is a serious book that moves at a smart uncontrived pace. It voices deep concerns about how and why the deprived and the marginalized in certain parts of our country join the Maoist ranks; how they adopt desperate and often terrible measures to wrench justice and to make their voices heard... a confident debut novel, a good read, which will leave you with plenty to mull over. -- PRITI AISOLA, author (See Paris for Me, Penguin-India, 2009) in DANSE MACABRE XXXIV.

In her debut novel, Nabina Das writes about an India where social divides stand taller than multistoried shopping malls. Footprints in the Bajra, inspired by what she saw while touring the interiors of Bihar as part of a travelling theatre group, inquires into why the Maoists have an influence over a large section of Indian society. Das talked to Uttara Choudhury in New York about her book, and its protagonist Muskaan -- DAILY NEWS AND ANALYSIS, Mumbai, March 28, 2010.


"The interspersion of references from both the West and India do not clash. Shakespeare and Lazarus as reference points are brought in with ease, as also Valmiki and Goddess Chhinnamasta, and nothing jars ... The language is poetic and creates visual images of beauty and ugliness side by side." -- ABHA IYENGAR, poet (Yearnings: Serene Woods, 2010) and fiction writer in MUSE INDIA, May-Jun 2010

Shwetank Dubey says Nabina Das ably recreates the milieu of Maoist-infested regions of India -- Nabina Das has chosen the first person account of narrating a story from the main characters of the novel, Nora the sheherwali (urban dweller), Muskaan the rebel, Suryakant Sahay the crafty clandestine planner and Avadhut the frontrunner of all the operations... the book deals with something that no urban resident is bound to know on his own — the life and times of people living in Maoist infested areas and why do they give in to the temptation provided by the Red Brigade. -- PIONEER newspaper, April 25, 2010.
'"If you misrepresent them, they'll abduct and kill you," says Muskaan, our hostess'... goes the first line with which Nabina Das settles everything about her novel -- style, subject and pace... Excellent plotline. Wonderful detail. A beautifully crafted book. -- Karunamay Sinha; THE STATESMAN, Sunday supplement "8th Day", May 16, 2010.

"This is bitter-sweet, if a rather longish tale of a modern-day Maoist revolution and the seeds of destruction and betrayal that lie embedded in it." -- Business World, May 17, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Non-fiction Piece published in BAP Quarterly

When I wrote it down recently, I thought this non-fiction piece of mine read more like a story. It is one no doubt, considering how dramatic real life could get for some people. And I find myself going back to such themes again and again, whether in essay or poetry -- the quest for defining borders, the urge to un-map oneself and the discovery that confines are within our own minds.

THE WATER GIVER is published in the current issue of Bosphorus Art Project Quarterly. The theme for this edition is "New York City". Exciting, innit!

Here's an excerpt:

"He had seen us through the crowd. Lunch time. A 15-course buffet and the smell of mustard oil I cannot miss. Jackson Heights is an ant hill of colors – white, brown, black. White faces, black arms, brown legs. The United Colors of Humanity flag flapping in the glee of an autumn New York breeze of 2007.
He has worked under the roof of this un-glitzy Bangladeshi restaurant for decades now. He has hummed Amar Shonar Bangla in the beginning over cauldrons of boiling oil or milk, dreamed of dazzling green paddy, and then slowly forgotten everything. His education was meager, not enough to earn him a stable job back home in a newborn nation. But the money to the middleman “bhai” was just what he could pay for a better life as a New Yorkistani. After all, there was no family, no ties. Why even stick around to be prodded by the police and hear comments from the neighborhood maulavi for not having grown his beard long enough?"
Hope you have fun reading it. For the direct link, go here.

Image: BAP Q cover "Worship Me" by Farras Abdelnour


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