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).

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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.

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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.

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"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


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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.
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'"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.
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"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, October 27, 2009

MOLOCH -- New Poem in URHALPOOL Bilingual Zine


My poem "Moloch" is published in Urhalpool, a bilingual online literary journal. Read it here or at http://www.urhalpool.com/oct2009/index.php?lang=eng&pageid=nabina_das.

Nice to find out I am published along with Meena Alexander, Hassanal Abdallah, Yuyutsu Sharma et al!


When I first started reading Urhalpool, I was struck by its sophisticated content, the beautiful covers and the phenomenal span of its writers from the US to India to Bangladesh and many more in between! "A contemporary Bengali-English bilingual webzine," Urhalpool is published periodically from New Jersey, USA. The editors are Gautam Datta (Chief); Catherine Fletcher and Shawan Sarkar (English), and Pinaki Datta (Bangla). You can read the Bangla edition here (Current Edition: Oct 2009, Vol: 2, Issue: 3).


Goutam Datta was recently in Ithaca to conduct a literary workshop with the stellar Indian writer Sunil Gangopadhayay who was visiting Cornell University for a distinguished lecture series. Invited for the first general session by Goutam, needless to say, I ran my fastest to Best Western University Inn, not so much eager about the workshop as about simply getting to meet Sunil Gangopadhayay! He is a dear old man with a youthful demeanor. I blurted out to him how much I was in awe of his "Neera" poems as a teenager --not to speak about the sweep of his stories and novels --that I even identified myself with that name and wrote a few "Neera" poems myself in Bengali! When I left he actually said, "Let me know when your book is out and show me those poems too!"
Oh, by the way, if you still haven't read the poem on Urhalpool's site, here it is!
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MOLOCH
- by Nabina Das
It’s been long
letters did not arrive
in my name
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like time infinite
I packed lunch, tied shoelaces
set out to work
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pointing to a bush
on my way, casually saying,
it’s a goldfinch!
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Just when I eyed star fruits
in the tropical backyard
a crow ate them up all
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Such diligence wavers
my daily dithering
for it’s been really long
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Lenin (perhaps) had asked Krupskaya:
do we need kids dear?
The Revolution is our verse
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Likewise, it’s been long
I haven’t given birth
my verse has devoured my own.
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Image: Courtesy Urhalpool cover art; THE BLUE SAREE - Painting by Jogen Chowdhury

2 comments:

Rhett said...

Such diligence wavers
my daily dithering
...
The initial verses are plain but climax so well in this mah-vellous expression that only you could have written!

The last verse I half understand - but it is a seed, when it will grow, I well know that in time I will have properly understood what you say. In fact, I think I know what exactly... it is only a matter of semantics...

tanuj solanki said...

A truly magnificent poem. This is your best in my memory, from now on!