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

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SHEHER -- the Tentative Cover

Guest-edited by Meena Kandasamy, the anthology of "urban" poems by Indian women writers has this tentative cover. Haven't heard if they were re-working it. Encore shameless plug: my poem will be there humbly nestled, hopefully by the scintillating Kamala Das (same last names, you see!).

Basically, these were my comments on the cover:

*the vertical view conveys strength and direct approach of the woman’s position

*that she is holding together what represents the cities symbolic ‘mammoth’ bridges, pillars/monuments/edifice… she is like the female Krishna who held the mount govardhana (was it?) to shelter the cattle from rains… (aw I forgot my mythology!)

* that her back is turned towards us. We don't need to see her face always, a face that has been over-abused in movies, calendars, posters, matrimonial (shaadi.com?) ads… et al. hence we don't need to know if she is good/bad looking, dark or light, shy or angry… whatever

* that the image also conveys a sense of control in the way she holds the city’s edifice and looks upon the spread before her. She surmises it, it’s her say on the city.

* her hands holding together or apart of the monument and bridge is very emergetic. She has the capability to change, that comes out well.

What I didn't like is:

*that she looks very ‘rural’ in the way she has been dressed. per se there is nothing wrong with ‘rural looks’, but here, perhaps a more “straight” form would look better than a swingy, ghaghra-wearing sort of form. Perhaps the artist can rework on relaxing this formative structure of the woman’s image.

*I love B&W but there is just too much black there. and the spotlight kind of treatment doesn't make it less imposing. Could a border around the etching work to keep the image in its lightedness?

* The title font (I don't think it is spooky at all) seems to jar a bit with the slug/sub-hed below.

Also, friend and poet Anuradha Pujar's work will be there. Two writers from Ithaca in the same anthology, ain't that cool?

1 comment:

Old Man River said...

We are so happy to see this happening... always trusted your fine senses of reading, writing and expressing. Your friend is a poet too... how nice. The company one keeps is important. Best to both of you, Ithaca poets.