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Collective Words
Text by Supriya Nair
Published: Volume 17, Issue 5, May, 2009

Verve thumbs through sizzling summer reads, ranging from revolutions, biographies, essays and memoirs that lead onto a winding literary journey

Unarmed Heroes
Compiled and edited by peace direct
Non-fiction, Jaico

A compilation of stories about individuals who challenge wars through active peacemaking efforts. Includes a DIY section that teaches conflict resolution skills. One more to add to the growing stack of non-fiction about the current political climate.

The Loudest Firecracker
by Arun Krishnan
Young Adult Fiction, Tranquebar

Ten-year-old Siddharth handles a tragic death, a disturbingly political best friend, and a changing world in this touching little début novel. With beautiful illustrations by Aditi Raychoudhury, this isn’t so much a good one to read out loud at bedtime as to curl up with on a long commute.

Edited by Anil Dharker
Biography, Lotus/Roli

A collection of biographical essays attempts to revisit India’s history through its best-known post-1947 personalities. Contributions come from writers like Bachi Karkaria, Jerry Pinto, Ranjit Hoskote and Dharker himself. We also now feel ready for India’s next generation of essayists to come out and surprise us any time now.

A Place Within
by M. G. Vassanji
Memoir, Penguin/Viking

An acclaimed writer assembles a memoir of words and photographs about India, his grandparents’ native land. The African Vassanji creates a complex web of stories and characters from the length and breadth of the country. Evocative and insightful, where contemporary India comes to life.

Rana Dasgupta
Literary Fiction,
Harper Collins

Ulrich, age 100, takes a winding journey into the past of his home country, Bulgaria. Tragedy abounds, on a human and national scale, but so does humanity’s ability to overcome them. Unusual and beautiful. Literary event of the year.

The Imperial Agent
by Timeri N. Murari
Literary Fiction, Penguin

The beginnings of the Indian revolution against the Empire as seen through the eyes of Kipling’s immortal Kimball O’Hara, or Kim, a young man trying to resolve the conflict between his twin allegiance to England and India. Some lovely writing and research about a corner of history not nearly explored enough in Indian writing in English. Pick a long weekend to read it from cover to cover.

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