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HomeArts & EntertainmentBooksHT Picks; The most interesting reads of the week

HT Picks; The most interesting reads of the week

A savagely witty whodunit

444pp, ₹699; Bloomsbury

A towering figure in world literature, in his first novel for 48 years, Wole Soyinka aims directly at the corridors of power as he tells a story of corruption both in high office and within the soul with a dazzling lightness of touch and gleeful irreverence.

Much to Doctor Menka’s horror, a shady but well organized consortium converting body parts to unconventional use is operating out of his hospital. Already at the end of his tether from the horrors he routinely sees in surgery, he shares this latest development with his oldest college friend, bon viveur, star engineer and Yoruba royal, Duyole Pitan-Payne, who has never before met a puzzle he couldn’t solve. Neither realizes how close the enemy is, nor how powerful.

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth is at once a savagely witty whodunit, a scathing indictment of Nigeria’s political elite, and a provocative call to arms from one of the country’s most relentless political activists and an international literary giant.*

That enduring brilliance

315pp, Rs499; Westland
315pp, Rs499; Westland

Satyajit Ray is the tallest Indian figure in world cinema. Retrospectives across the globe, perhaps even more than at home, have kept his legacy alive. But how do we understand his cinema in the context of a vastly different world? What keeps great cinema from becoming dated? What are the particularities of Ray’s movies that cause them to endure?

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay’s literary engagement with Ray’s cinema spans years. In this book, he revisits each of one of Satyajit Ray’s 39 feature films, shorts and documentaries to investigate their cinematic and social context. He also speaks to a number of the master’s collaborators as well as other directors and critics to truly understand Ray and his work.

Packed with delightful anecdotes and fresh insights, and rare photographs from his films and sets, The Cinema of Satyajit Ray is an essential book for every cinephile’s library.*

Reproduction, population and the economy

274pp, ₹875; Women Unlimited
274pp, ₹875; Women Unlimited

In the late 19th century, India played a pivotal role in creating global conversations around population and reproduction. Among the questions posed by colonial administrators, nationalists, eugenicists, demographers and policy-makers were: age at marriage and its effect on the health and the vitality of a population; how many children married couples should have and how they should be raised; practices like remarriage, monogamy and celibacy and their impact on individual bodies, families and wider communities. It was these early discussions that led to the emergence of the new ideas linking reproduction, population and the economy.

Mytheli Sreenivas’s detailed examination of existing scholarship from the 1870s to the 1970s – histories of marriage and birth control, of ideas of ‘population’ and ‘economy’ as abstractions, and of famine and crises of subsistence – offers a compelling analysis of how reproduction became an economic question and was targeted for regulation, with serious implications for women’s fertility and reproductive rights.

The author’s deep dive into archival texts, sourced from three continents, reveals that concerns about reproduction surfaced within a range of political questions –around poverty and survival, migration and claims of sovereignty, normative heterosexuality and drives for development – which produced the very grounds on which reproduction was called into question in the modern world.*

*All copy from book flap.

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