Manisha, a former journalist who did many a stories on Jammu and Kashmir during her career decided to take her love for writing a step further when she decided to write Kashmir’s Narrative of Conflict: Identity Lost in Space and Time, which was released in November this year. The book is a result of her time, as a research fellow at Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, which was where she started work on the book and started collecting data, stories and memoirs from the valley.
The book tries to encapsulate people’s mood in Kashmir, their identity conflicts and the political turmoil in the region. To portray the situation clearly, she interviewed Jammu and Kashmir liberation front chief Yasin Malik, surrendered militants, writers, activists and the youth of Kashmir to convey their side of the story. Currently a lecturer at GGDSD College, Sector 32, Chandigarh, she plans to write another book soon. “One that will be a comparative analysis on women in conflict regions such as Kashmir and the North East,” says she. We can hardly wait!
Milan Vohra may be known as the first Indian to pen a Mills & Boon book, but she has come a long way since then. This year, this advertising professional came out with her second book, Tick tock, We’re 30, a story about a woman reaching the dreaded age of 30 and the many complications in her life and how she navigates through them all. In her words, it is a book about “revisiting friendships”. Released in January this year by Shobhaa De, the book has received positive reviews from the all quarters of the media. She is reluctant to reveal the plot of her next book, but she gives us a hint as she says, “The plot is woman-centric and is set in an urban space.” Sounds right up Vohra’s alley.
Vipul Mittra, a 1986 batch Gujarat cadre IAS officer, is a native from Chandigarh who often tries to use Chandigarh as a backdrop for his books. And, he did the same with his second book, The Dream Chasers, which came out earlier this year. The book is about six friends who attend university in Chandigarh, their exploits and experiences in college and their dreams and the way to attain those dreams. The book is inspired from Mittra’s own time at college in Chandigarh, with references from modern times as well. The book was launched by Amitabh Bachchan in September 2013 and has sold three reprints in two months since its release. His next, he says, is a satire like his previous works, targeting the many ‘god men’ of India and people’s unshaken faith in them.
A high school student at Choate Rosemary Hall, Connecticut, USA, Arjun Badal was “appalled” by the sate of affairs in his home state on visits during school vacation. Son of former finance minister of Punjab and PPP (People’s Party of Punjab) chief Manpreet Singh Badal, the young Badal scion got an opportunity to get a first-hand account of the problems in Punjab when he campaigned extensively in the state for his father’s party in the State Assembly elections of 2012. His book, Subera, is a by-product of these experiences. The book focuses on wide ranging issues such as Punjab’s economic growth, industrial growth, drug abuse and sex ratio, among other problems that have plagued Punjab for a while now. The book, which is a culmination of his love for writing and his experiences in his home state, is Arjun’s attempt to offer solutions to problems of the state.
The joint MD of Percept, Shailendra Singh has seen enough of life and its varied hues to pen a book on the same — that’s exactly what he has done with his debut book, F&*$ Knows, which came out in April this year. His inspiration: the lack of consistent justice in life. “We intellectualise life too much, you know. We grow up with a lot of misconceptions. With my book, I just hoped to clear a few misconceptions that people have and convey to them that the journey itself is the destination and I try and do that without being too preachy.” A proud Jat, Singh has lived in different parts of the country and the world and has a special bond with Chandigarh. “My closest friends — Yuvraj Singh, Kapil Dev and Vijender Singh live here,” he adds cheekily. He is already working on his next book, an articulation of the lives of superstars, which is apt, given his status in the film industry.
It isn’t easy being the brother of one of India’s most popular authors, let alone compete with him in the market. But, Ketan Bhagat, brother of Chetan Bhagat, took the leap and decided to come out with his own book. People had often told him to write a book, but he, in his own words, “never had a story to tell.” But, when he moved back to India after an eight-year stint abroad, he realised how there was no book or movie that described the experiences one has when one moves to a foreign land, and the ones that existed all showed very glamorous stories and skipped the hard part. With his book, Complete/Convenient, released in June this year, he documented the actual struggles and experiences of moving to a foreign land by way of his protagonist, Kabir, who moves to Sydney with his wife, much like Ketan himself. A Punjabi from New Delhi, Ketan does draw on his background in the book. Work on his second novel is in its nascent stage and is touted to be a “man’s perspective on parenthood.”
The noted Punjabi author came out with her second book, Remember To Forget, in January 2013. The book, which is set in Puri’s birthplace, Ludhiana, is based in the times of insurgency in Punjab and the physical, mental and emotional scars that it left people with. It recounts the days where police clampdowns, curfews, loss and death were matters of daily parlance in Punjab. A professor of English literature at Government College for Girls, Chandigarh, Puri has often reiterated that though the setting for her second book is the same as her first, it does not mean that her second novel is a sequel of the first. Her next to be released in 2014, titled Theka Tales, is set in Chandigarh itself and explores the nature between liquor, gender roles and other absorbing issues that she has came across in her time in Chandigarh.
Sid Bahri was like many of us, who are stuck in boring, corporate jobs and are dying to channel our inner creative selves. The only difference is that Bahri, while working a day job, pulled all-nighters to come out with one of 2013’s most sparkling debuts, The Homing Pigeons, which was released in April this year. Much like the homing pigeon, which eventually returns to its nest and mate, the protagonists of Bahri’s book return to their mates despite the greed, prejudice and separation that they come across. Bahri, who did his schooling from Chandigarh and Delhi, also chose these cities as the setting for his debut novel. His plans for 2014: “A sequel,” he says and promises, “It will be a refreshing take on love and crime.” The book being out next year is also subject to him finding a good publisher (his words, not ours). Given the phenomenal response to his first book, we are sure he’ll have publishers queuing at his doorstep soon.
Those of us who have read Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills eagerly awaited its sequel; our wishes were granted in July this year when Shimla-based author Minakshi Chowdhry came out with More Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills — a collection of 16 ghost stories set in picturesque Shimla. Dark, moonless nights, mist covering the hills and the accompanying valley, lonely stretches and the occasional howling in the jungles make Shimla the perfect setting for stories with ghosts, witches and spirits. While she is already working on her next book, she refuses to reveal the plot as of yet.
Chander S Dogra
As a former journalist with Outlook, Chander S Dogra covered Haryana and honour killings for about nine years before she was commissioned by Penguin India to write a book on the famous honour killing case of Manoj and Babli. Her book, Manoj and Babli: A Hate Story, which came out in July this year not only includes the story of Manoj and Babli, but also features the patriarchal set-up in Haryana and the condition of women in the state, which sends chills down the spine. Currently the bureau chief for north-India at The Hindu, Dogra is based in Chandigarh and is already working on her next book. She doesn’t reveal much, just says, “It is about the 1971 war and should hopefully be out in 2014.”
Navtej Singh Sarna
A 1980 batch Indian Foreign Service officer and India’s current ambassador to Israel came out with his third book, Savage Harvest: Stories of Partition, in October this year. Written originally by his father Mohinder Singh Sarna in Punjabi, it was translated in English by his son Navtej this year. Heart wrenching stories about a brave father sacrificing his son, a wife’s faith destroying the hatred in her husband’s heart, a young man challenging a neighbourhood rogue to a horse riding bet to rescue a captive girl are some of the stories that find space in the book.
This hugely popular author with as many as three best-selling books to his credit came out with his third book, Paperback Dreams, this year. The book is a story of a new breed of writers, who will do anything to attain fame quickly, however unscrupulous their ways may be. It is the book that all aspiring writers are recommended to read, as they can get insights into the way publishing houses can sometimes behave. Saini, who hails from Jalandhar, has used his experiences and dealings with publishers as instances in the book. He has signed a two-book deal with Penguin India, one of which was Paperback Dreams. His next book, to be out in 2014, is “a sequel and takes off from where Paperback Dreams ended.”
Sumita Misra, secretary and director general for Haryana Tourism and Hospitality and managing director of Haryana Tourism Corporation came out with her third book, Zara Si Dhoop, in December this year. The book is a collection of 75 poems that Misra has penned over the years on issues ranging from social, political or even her own experiences in life. The book is written in Hindi and Urdu, languages from Misra’s hometown, Lucknow. Misra, who is also the founder chairperson of Chandigarh Literary Society, was one of the key organisers of the Chandigarh Literature Festival held in November this year. But, despite her heavy time commitments, she is almost ready with her next book. “A book on English Haiku is in its final stages,” she says.