Chirdeep Malhotra . Updated: 8/12/2021 11:55:46 PM Books and Authors

From a book offering a glimpse into the lesser-known side of West Indian identity, to a comprehensive history of Trans-Eurasian caravan trade and India’s role in it, our book picks this week, curated by Chirdeep Malhotra


“The Cane-Cutter’s Song” by Raphaël Confiant, translated from the French by Vidya Vencatesan

In this novel, award-winning Martinican author Raphaël Confiant illuminates the lesserknown side of the West Indian identity, and captures the lives of the thousands of indentured labourers that crossed the ‘kaala paani’ at the height of British rule in India. When Adhiyaman Dorassamy leaves India and reaches the French colony of Martinique, the Dorassamys soon realize their predicament: like the thousands of ‘Coolies’ before them, they are to now replace the freed Negro slaves in the sugarcane plantations. Ostracized by the former slaves and blindly subjected to the whims of the white planters, these ‘Coolie’ Indians swiftly learn the art of survival and plunge into an unfamiliar world. This impeccable translation by Vidya Vencatesan, available for the first time in English, is an immersive and riveting read.


“How to Kidnap the Rich” by Rahul Raina

This book is part thriller, and part satire of contemporary urban India. Ramesh Kumar grew up deprived and unloved, and now brilliant but poor, he makes a lucrative living taking tests for the sons of India’s elite. When one of his clients, Rudi Saxena, places first in the national university entrance exams, Ramesh sees an unmissable opportunity. But then, Rudi's role on a game show leads to unexpected love, blackmail and, finally, a dangerous kidnapping. As Ramesh leads Rudi through a maze of crimes both large and small, their dizzying journey reveals an India in all its complexity, beauty, and squalor, moving from the bottom rungs to the circles inhabited by the ultra-rich and everywhere in between.


“India and the Silk Roads: The History of a Trading World” by Jagjeet Lally

India's caravan trade with central Asia was at the heart of the complex web of routes making up the Silk Roads. But what was the fate of these overland connections in the ages of sail and steam? Jagjeet Lally sets out to answer this question by bringing the world of caravan trade to life. This book is a global history of a continental interior, the first to comprehensively examine the textual and material traces of caravan trade in the ‘age of empires’. The book’s narrative resonates with our own times, as China's Belt and Road Initiative brings terrestrial forms of connectivity back to the fore – transforming life across Eurasia once again.


“An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination” by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang

Once one of Silicon Valley’s greatest success stories, Facebook has been under constant fire for the past five years, roiled by controversies and crises. It turns out that while the tech giant was connecting the world, they were also mishandling users’ data, spreading fake news, and amplifying dangerous, polarizing hate speech. The book takes readers inside the complex court politics, alliances and rivalries within the company to shine a light on the fatal cracks in the architecture of the tech behemoth. This book by award-winning New York Times reporters unveils the tech story of our times in a riveting, behind-the-scenes exposé that offers the definitive account of Facebook’s fall from grace.

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