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, March 7, 2010

First "Footprints" Review Published

A review of my novel "Footprints in the Bajra" has been published in DANSE MACABRE XXXIII by Priti Aisola, author of "See Paris for Me" (Penguin India 2009).

Also, excerpts are up on that literary journal for you to sample.

Here's a portion from what Priti writes:

"The book has a very assured beginning that draws you into it rapidly. The very first image where Muskaan ‘swats my (Nora’s) attention as though it were a distracted fly bumbling over a new odour’, gives ample evidence of the writer’s confident craft as she adeptly thrusts you forward through the sharp turns in her story. Set against the backdrop of the bajra fields for a large part, these fields become a major multi-faceted character in the story – with a singular voice, mood and an eventful terrible history. While the bajra provides nourriture, it also hides death. It is life-sustaining; it is treacherous. It harbours miscreants and also gives refuge to the wounded. It is green; it is blood-stained. It is ‘verdant’; it is ‘murky’. It is ‘a sea of murmur’, ‘a dark green flood.’ It is alive – it breathes ominously; it murmurs, whispers, rustles, speaks of bloody insurgents, their unrelenting armed struggle, killings, and equally heinous reprisals by the landowners. Yes, it is ‘the bloody bajra fields where life and death overlap each other’, collide with each other.

The bajra field is a ghastly ‘womb’ which brings forth only noxious fruit. Yet, it will change. It has footprints of those who chase, hunt out and those who fall prey. Yet, it will change by and by. It will bear other footprints (not traitorous ones) and yield a more wholesome harvest, we hope. Nabina Das delineates all this beautifully in the complex symbolism of the bajra fields. There are other fields of action too – New York, Delhi, Patna, and two or three villages – and in each of these the characters leave their footprints. Hopefully the ugly ones will be effaced. The Delhi chapter is called ‘Footprints in the Sun’ – a fresh, evocative image.

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. And this sets in motion other reactions, often violent and punitive. Personally, I liked the first half of the book better because it is more imbued with atmosphere. The second half is more theatrically eventful. Dialogue is Nabina’s forte. Written with relaxed ease, it is true to life and character. This novel will lend itself wonderfully, readily, to a script for a movie, serious and engrossing at the same time, with the right mix of ideology, romance, friendship, murder, retribution, artful scheming and social welfare, to make it a good watch."
Hope you can get a copy of FOOTPRINTS IN THE BAJRA for yourself. Right now available on Rediff for ordering in India and on Cedar Books' parent company website for international purchase.


Anonymous said...

Finally managed to read this Nabina. I am sorry for the delay. The book is not in stores here so can't read. Maybe will buy online. I feel drawn to it by what Priti writes. Conratulations ones again my friend.

fleuve-souterrain said...

Thanks Tiku!
Very kind of you to visit and read. Yes, Priti has done a wonderful job. she point out so many things that I never realized was present in my writing. Lucky to know such insightful writers like Priti.

The book is perhaps about to come to the stores. It takes a couple months. Check Rediff Books and Flipkart, you can buy it online -- no shipping in India!

Do keep coming and take care.