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HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week

On HT Picks this week, an exploration of Naga identity, a look at how neuroscience is changing our assumptions about ourselves, and a translation of a renowned Hindi writer’s short fiction,

books Updated: Jun 15, 2019 09:04 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
This week’s good reads include an exploration of Naga identity, the science of fate, and short stories by a renowned Hindi author.(HT Team)


316pp, Rs 699; Aleph

Walking the Roadless Road: Exploring the Tribes of Nagaland is a comprehensive history of the Naga tribes who live within the borders of Nagaland. Kire begins with an overview of migration narratives – both mythical and historical – of the various tribes, starting in the nineteenth century. She then delves deep into the origins of the Nagas, their early history as forest-dwellers, how the discrete Naga territories were formed, the written and unwritten history of the villages, the various struggles that have convulsed Naga society down the ages, as well as the sweeping changes that have transformed the community in the twenty-first century.*


247pp, Rs 599; Hachette

So many of us believe that we are free to shape our own destiny. But what if free will doesn’t exist? What if our lives are largely predetermined, hardwired in our brains – and our choices over what we eat, who we fall in love with, even what we believe, are not real choices at all?
Neuroscience is challenging everything we think we know about ourselves, revealing how we make decisions and form our own reality, unaware of the role of our unconscious minds.
Leading neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow draws vividly from everyday life and other experts in their field to show the extraordinary potential ,as well as dangers, which come with being able to predict our likely futures – and looking at how we can alter what’s in store for us.
Lucid illuminating, awe inspiring, The Science of Fate revolutionises our understanding of who we are – and empowers us to help shape a better future for ourselves and the wider world.*


Translated from the Hindi by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Sara Rai; 142pp, Rs 399; HarperCollins

Renowned for bringing the marvelous to the ordinary, Vinod Kumar Shukla has long been recognized as one of India’s foremost writers, with a voice uniquely his own.
Blue Is like Blue is Shukla’s only collection of short fiction, available in English translation for the first time. The stories here deal with ‘smaller-than-life –people”. They live in rented accommodation, often in single rooms, where one electric bulb does for light. When the light dims because of low voltage, it is like air escaping form a punctured bicycle tube. There’s a nail to hang clothes from and a wall-to wall- string for the washing. When the clothes are dry, you place the carefully folded shirt under a pillow and lie down to sleep. Money is a concern, but the bazaar is the place to go and spend time in, especially if you have nothing to buy. The fear that you may be overcharged accompanies every transaction, but joy is not entirely absent. The book also includes Shukla’s memoir, ‘Old Veranda’, with its unforgettable scene in which a bus bound for Rajnandgaon, the city of his birth is travelling ‘through the air at great speed’.
Few works of modern Indian literature come alive in English, and fewer still in the way that these stories do in Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Sara Rai’s brilliant translation.*

*All copy from book flap.

First Published: Jun 14, 2019 19:47 IST