Mannu Bhandari’s short stories, Eric Hobsbawm on nationalism, and the 100 objects that represent the multiculturalism of modern India -- all that on this week’s list of interesting reads. (HT Team)
Mannu Bhandari’s short stories, Eric Hobsbawm on nationalism, and the 100 objects that represent the multiculturalism of modern India -- all that on this week’s list of interesting reads. (HT Team)

HT Picks; New Reads

This week’s reading list includes a translation of Mannu Bhandari’s stories that turn an unflinching gaze at the hypocrisy of a society that balks at giving women the keys to their shackles, a collection of historian Eric Hobsbawm’s writing on nationalism, and a spectacular volume on the 100 objects that are representative of the multicultural medley that is contemporary India
By HT Team
PUBLISHED ON JUL 09, 2021 05:58 PM IST

The Best of Mannu Bhandari

248pp, ₹395; Roli Books
248pp, ₹395; Roli Books

Mannu Bhandari’s genius lies not in elevating women to heroines or superior beings; rather, she forces us to acknowledge that flawed, confused, and self-centred women are as worthy of agency and respect. She wrote among literary giants who were mostly men, but carved a singular space for herself with her unflinching gaze at the hypocrisy of a society that claims to venerate women yet balks at giving them the keys to their shackles. These 18 stories are representative of her wonderful insights into the inner life of women – her characters span the spectrum from rural to urban, illiterate to educated, homemakers to career professionals. Through all the stories runs a vein of gentle mockery – the inimitable Mannu Bhandari style.*

Critical historical insights

364pp, ₹799; Hachette
364pp, ₹799; Hachette

In the last two decades, the use of the term ‘nationalism’ has increased steeply with the rising tide of nationalist parties. In this collection of historian Eric Hobsbawm’s writing on nationalism, we see some of the critical historical insights he brings to bear on this contentious subject, which is more than ever relevant as we stand on the threshold of an age when the internet and the globalization of capital threaten to blow away many national boundaries while, as a reaction, nationalism seems to re-emerge with a renewed strength.

More than any other historian of our time, Hobsbawm took great care to seriously consider these movements, and never to decry nationalism and patriotism as simply absurd. The clarity of his insight is as vital today as it was in his lifetime: On Nationalism is an essential work for anyone who wants to understand the phenomenon.*

Speaking to us and about us

279pp, ₹2495; Roli Books
279pp, ₹2495; Roli Books

We are constantly surrounded by objects, by ‘things’ that channel and dictate our everyday life, ‘things’ that we take for granted. But these objects speak to us, and speak about us. They have a story to tell that reflects our values and aspirations, our achievements and dreams. And reveal more about us than we realize.

This richly illustrated book focuses on 100 objects to tell a story of India that unravels in a series of thematic sections that allow the objects to take centre stage. The stories that some objects tell will be new to readers; at other times, the objects themselves may be familiar but the story they tell may not be obvious. The 100 objects shed light on the varying priorities and the differing strands of achievement that arose over time to create the rich multicultural medley that is today’s India.*

*All copy from book flap.

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