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

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Okay, tomorrow is the day. Project Verse begins June 8. PV is supposed to be a grueling poetry competition, and fun too, designed by poet and activist Dustin Brookshire. Read his blog I Was Born Doing Reference Work In Sin to learn more about it. He has updates coming regularly under the label .

How did I know about it? Well, by browsing blogs... finding Dustin through some Facebook friends and thanking my luck I did. I even posted the initial application call -- Project Verse Seeks Applicants -- on my FB page for all else to see and join. Why did I join it? Because I felt this competition would allow me to write more and thoroughly, which I often shirk, and besides, would bring me closer to several poets' work enabling me to learn a lot more. Dustin's activism and writing itself held my interest when I first read the call notice and browsed his blog.

The inaugural Project Verse Competitors are:

Andrew Clark-Kennedy

Jennifer Werner

Robert Walker

Nabina Das

Emily Van Duyne

Micah Ling

Kristen McHenry

Niina Pollari

Emari DiGiorgio

Martin Ott

To begin with, all applicants were asked to write a note with their material based on a prompt -- Ellen Bryant Voigt: “It's all a draft until you die."

That line sure came across as challenging to me. I mean if this is what poet Bryant Voigt said about poetry, I do have a right to express my opinion before I die! The line is deep in its implications and provocative in its suppositions. And I felt adamant reading it.

This note, my own expression, a cover letter and a few unpublished poems were submitted as application material. Got to hear from Dustin that I am now one of the 10 short-listed competitors for the honors offered by Project Verse. And by the gods of poesy, isn’t this going to be one rigorous ride.

Dustin’s blogpost teases: ‘Can you write under pressure without breaking a sweat?’ Hell I can't! I’m mortally scared of competitions although well wishers say I perform well under pressure. Well, be that as it may, I think I do well only if Madame Pressure leaves me alone with my faithful laptop. Wouldn’t I be a Wall Street fatcat otherwise?

More about Dustin Brookshire: "In 2008, Dustin founded LIMP WRIST and Quarrel. He has been featured at poetry readings in Atlanta as well as Savannah, and his work has been published in numerous online magazines as well as in Atlanta's DAVID magazine. Besides writing poetry and 'cooking up' poetry projects, Dustin enjoys serving on the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival Committee, and keeping elected officials on their toes. Contact Dustin via email: dustinvbrookshire@gmail.com"

So get out the swords, sheaths and helmets. The rattle and the battle of Project Verse begins! Also, get some body sprays and room fresheners because I will be writing from the heat of Indian summer.
The cover art above is from the current edition of Quay Journal where my poem "The First Apple Sings a Ruba'i" just came out. Although delayed for several months, this journal is a beautiful one with wonderful writings all along. Go to http://quayjournal.org/ to read mine and others' works.


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The Good Typist said...

Nabina, I'm just popping in to say I thought you were a tough competitor, and I'm sorry to see you go. :( I looked forward to reading your poems each week. I'll pop in on your blog regularly and keep up with your goings-on.--Kristen

fleuve-souterrain said...

Kristen! thank you... how kind of you to visit my blog. I'm happy I played on and the judges took a fair decision. Would've loved to go a little far in PV though!

Although I'm out, I'd be checking Dustin's site and reading the contestants' work.

I wish you all the luck! Have a great time writing for PV:)

Tim Buck said...

Congratulations, Nabina. When do the sparks fly? Or have they already?