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Home / Books / HT PICKS: THE MOST INTERESTING BOOKS OF THE WEEK

HT PICKS: THE MOST INTERESTING BOOKS OF THE WEEK

This week’s recommended reads includes a collection of essays on music, a novel set in Bombay, and a study of a turning point in Indian history

books Updated: Jan 24, 2020 20:19 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
A novel about a wild weekend in Bombay, essays on music, and a look at a decisive battle on the reading list this week.
A novel about a wild weekend in Bombay, essays on music, and a look at a decisive battle on the reading list this week. (HT Team)

NIGHT MUSIC BY THEODOR W ADORNO TRANSLATED BY WIELAND HOBAN

314pp, Rs 799; Seagull Books
314pp, Rs 799; Seagull Books

Night Music presents two collections of texts by Theodor W Adorno: Moments Musicaux, written between 1928 and 1962, and Theory of New Music, written between 1929 and 1955. In Moments Musicaux, Adorno echoes Schubert’s eponymous cycle, with its emphasis on aphorism, and offers lyrical reflections on music of the past and his own time. Theory of New Music presents his thoughts and theories on the composition, reception and analysis of the music being written around him. Collected in their entirety for the first time in English, these insightful texts show the breadth of Adorno’s musical understanding and reveal an overlooked side to this significant thinker.*

PLASSEY; THE BATTLE THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF INDIAN HISTORY BY SUDEEP CHAKRAVARTI

392pp, Rs 799; Aleph
392pp, Rs 799; Aleph

The battle of Plassey, fought on 23 June 1757, changed the course of Indian history forever. When the short, sharp hostilities between the forces of the nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daulah, and East Indian Company troops led by Robert Clive, an ambitious soldier of fortune, ended, Britain was on its way to becoming the dominant force in the region.

The eighteenth century was a time of great political churn in the subcontinent. After the death of Emperor Aurangzeb, the Mughal empire began to slowly fracture. In the east, the nawabs of Bengal, who ruled in the name of the Mughals, took the opportunity to break free. By the middle of the century, Siraj-ud-daulah succeeded his grandfather, Alivardi Khan, to the throne of Bengal. The young nawab clashed frequently with the company as it looked to aggressively expand and safeguard its interests. Their skirmishes led inexorably to Plassey, a decisive battle in the mango orchard by the banks of the Bhagirathi-Hugli.

But what was Plassey all about, besides a young nawab who stood in the way of a company’s business plans and a country’s dreams of conquest? Was it really a battle or was it won before it began? What were the politics of the time that permitted Plassey? Why did the British so desperately want Bengal? Who were the faces beyond a callow Siraj and a crafty Clive, the two main combatants? What are the stories behind the spurned general, the ambitious and hateful aunt, the rude and covetous cousin, the insulted banker , the grasping merchant? And how was – is – Plassey seen? By the vicotrious and the vanquished? The colonizer and the colonized? Why does Plassey remain such a fascinating story even today?

Using multilingual sources and a multidisciplinary approach, Sudeep Chakravarti answers all these questions and a myriad others with great insight and nuance. Impeccably researched and brilliantly told, Plassey is the best account yet of one of the turning points in Indian history.*

LOW BY JEET THAYIL

320pp, Rs 599; Faber & Faber
320pp, Rs 599; Faber & Faber

Following the death of his wife, Dominic Ullis escapes to Bombay in search of oblivion and a dangerous new drug. So begins a glorious weekend of misadventure as he tours the teeming, kaleidoscopic city, from its sleek aeries of high capital to the piss stained streets, encountering a cast with their own stories to tell, but none of whom Ullis – his faculties ever distorted - is quite sure the can trust.

Heady, heartbroken and heartfelt, Low is a blazing joyride through the darklands of grief, towards obliteration – and, perhaps, epiphany. *

*All copy from book flap.