This week’s reading list includes a translation of a Kannada literary figure’s work, a book that combines psychology, economics and genetics to show you the positive side of a negative emotion, and one woman’s rejection of Hinduism and Hindutva.
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HT Picks: New Reads – books ht picks

SITA LOOK BACK

351pp, 599 rupees; Westland

In the original release of Uttara Kaanda, The twenty-fourth novel by SL Bhyrappa, the Kannada literature stalwart said that he had been so overwhelmed by the Ramayana that could not go further Ayodhya Kaanda. However, the omnipresence of Rama’s discourse on Indian writing and philosophy forced him to examine the final volume of the original epic: Uttara Kaanda. It was a revelation. In it he saw Rama, Lakshmana and Sita as humans. Lakshmana’s subordination to his brother was not absolute; power had changed Rama; and Sita never recovered from the humiliation of her exile.
At Bhyrappa’s Uttara Kaanda, Sita remembers her life: abandoned at birth and again abandoned by her husband. His whole life has been a search for home, a sense of belonging. When they return from their long exile, Rama is anointed king of Ayodhya, but a pregnant Sita is sent to live in a forest. His exile does not end.
Uttara Kaanda it is Sita’s soliloquy; Oh Rama, I loved the pure man you were in your youth, not the man you have become, not this man who is chained by the royal throne. My love for you died sixteen years ago. A master of detail, Bhyrappa extracts the ancient epic to humanize characters who, for centuries, have been considered irreproachable gods, bringing us as close as possible to understanding them. *

CUT YOUR NOSE TO LISTEN TO YOUR FACE

256pp, 399 rupees;  HarperCollins

256pp, 399 rupees; HarperCollins

Spite covers psychology, economics, genetics, literature, and current affairs to examine why human beings self-harm just to get over another person. Why do we secretly want our friends to fail? Lots of compelling stories about toxic behavior in supermarkets and about the privet hedge, leading to incendiary divorces, vicious business practices, defamatory policies, scorched earth terrorism, Trump and Brexit. Was Trump elected because people voted in spite of Hillary Clinton?
There is also a hopeful message: the positive side of our dark side. Grudge can propel us forward, and Simon provides a new perspective on the word by showing the evolutionary benefits of spite as a social leveler, facilitator of challenge, source of freedom, and vital weapon in our daily arsenal.

A REASONABLE CRITICISM OF HINDUTVA AND HINDUISM

169pp, 350 rupees;  Unlimited women

169pp, 350 rupees; Unlimited women

In a reasoned critique of Hindutva and Hinduism, feminist scholar and activist Wandana Sonalkar describes why she, born as a woman and upper caste in Maharashtra, has repudiated her religious identity.
Drawing on his personal experience and textual and empirical evidence, he offers an intimate account of caste practices and argues that patriarchy and Brahminism are an integral part of Hinduism. As such, it is misogynistic and chaste, and its imperatives of exclusion are essential both to its practice and to Hindutva, which extends this imperative to Muslims.
It reiterates that discrimination and inequality have been so internalized that their daily observance turns into smooth social interactions, crystallizing and anchoring them deeply in society. *

* All the copy of the book flap

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