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

Monday, February 1, 2010

FOOTPRINTS Cover Kitsch...

Some of my friends have perhaps seen my older post "My Sketch and the Fun I have with it!". In that post stuck some versions of a sketch I've been doing for a few months ... until now that it has become something palpable. The cover of my novel FOOTPRINTS IN THE BAJRA.

But I just thought it'd be interesting to see those sub-sketches again alongside a few cover options that were thrown at me, by the publishers as well as my dithering mind. But I soon realized what I actually wanted, and I rooted for it, successfully!

This was one photographic option, but I realized these are paddy, not millet, in a parched land!

This was definitely pearl millet (bajra), but this option looked very boring too me; even with the ominous red sky, it seemed to have no soul or drama. People who know me, they know I prefer both!

This photo above is the same when I was tinting it red-pink...

Cedar sent me this photographic option. A girl walking through some crop field. But the locale looked non-Indian, certainly non-Bihar, and not even remotely any closer to my story and the protagonist/s. Too stiff, too transliterated, too predictable. Nope!

These ones below are the versions of the Madhubani drawing I was starting to visualize as my cover. So you have upside down, truncated, full drawing...

Oh, don't miss the gun! I had to labor HARD to make it look like a country gun!

And of course, what you see below is the original B&W sketch when I started working with it ...

Images: from the Internet; drawings: by Nabina Das


Tim Buck said...

Very neat to see the options, the evolution, the decision.

priti aisola said...

Quite a process - involving and exciting.... Thank you for sharing it.

fleuve-souterrain said...

Tim, thank you! It was quite a journey, satisfying at the end!

Priti, I realized I had plunged into a deep spot but you know, somewhere this really pleased me -- to see my art being recognized by the publishers :)

anu said...

nice, like the yellow, reds and black

fleuve-souterrain said...

thank you Anu!... My one-time brush with a master craftsperson/artist of Madhubani art in India taught me WHY these colors are important for the representation of a particular cosmogony. I tried imitating it. Not quite the real thing obviously, in absence of natural dyes, but it's a satisfying result :)