HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week

A book that makes the case for rationalism, another on a rich textile tradition, and a collection of science fiction stories
This week’s list of good reads includes a book on a textile tradition, Narendra Dabholkar’s second volume on rationalism, and a collection of sci-fi stories set in South Asia.(HT Team)
This week’s list of good reads includes a book on a textile tradition, Narendra Dabholkar’s second volume on rationalism, and a collection of sci-fi stories set in South Asia.(HT Team)
Updated on Mar 08, 2019 06:44 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByHT Team


THE CASE FOR REASON VOLUME II BY NARENDRA DABHOLKAR, TRANSLATED BY SUMAN OAK

129pp, ₹399; Westland
129pp, ₹399; Westland

Originally published in Marathi as Timiratuni Tejakade, rationalist and activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar’s magnum opus, The Case for Reason, is both a vision document for, and a chronicle of, the battle that he and his co-activists waged against obscurantism, superstition, pseudo sciences and blind faith in the scriptures.

In Dabholkar’s view, it is the constitutional duty of every Indian citizen to develop a scientific temper, and the Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti’s (ANiS) campaigns have made this the central argument of their work. A few days after Dabholkar was shot dead by religious extremists in 2013, the Maharashtra government issued an anti-superstition ordinance that was in essence a tribute to Dabholkar’s life-long struggle.

The Case for Reason is available in two volumes, the second of which – A Scientific Enquiry into Belief – delves into the anatomy of faith. In this volume, Dabholkar discusses god, religion, secularism and rationalism, and attempts to understand what it will take for society to transcend the infirmities that misguided religious faith imposes on society.

Argumentative and illuminating, this book is a guide to the thinking of one of India’s most independent, important voices – available for the first time in an English translation.


BALUCHARS; THE WOVEN NARRATIVE SILKS OF BENGAL EDITED BY JASLEEN DHAMIJA

244pp, ₹2500; Niyogi Books
244pp, ₹2500; Niyogi Books

The historic Baluchar textiles of Bengal are a testament to a unique weaving tradition. Composed of the finest silk, these textiles were painstakingly woven with intricate figurative and decorative patterns. They represent more than just a textile tradition. They are a window into the socio-cultural set-up of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The transition from nawabi to Colonial rule in Bengal has been beautifully captured through these textiles. This richly illustrated book traces the historical development of Baluchar textiles, especially saris, and the position this art form has come to acquire in the twenty first century. By dissecting the conditions, inspirations, material, techniques and aesthetic qualities of this weaving tradition, this book showcases how this art form travelled from Murshidabad to Bishnupur, then to Benares as well as t museums around the world.


THE GOLLANCZ BOOK OF SOUTH ASIAN SCIENCE FICTION EDITED BY TARUN K SAINT

375pp, ₹599; Hachette India
375pp, ₹599; Hachette India

On an ordinary morning, the citizens of Karachi wake up to discover the sea missing from their shores. The last Parsi left on Earth must look for other worlds to escape to when debt collectors come knocking. A family visiting a partition-themed park gets more entertainment than they bargained for. Gandhi appears in the present day under rather unusual circumstances. Aliens with an agenda arrive at a railway station in Uttar Pradesh. Two young scientists seek to communicate with forests even as the web of life threatens to collapse. A young girl’s personal tragedy finds a surprising resolution as she readies herself for an expedition of a lifetime.

Watch:

These and other tales of masterful imagination illuminate this essential volume of new science fiction that brings together some of the most creative minds in contemporary literature. A must-have collectible, The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction offers fresh perspectives on our hyper-global, often alienating and always paranoid worlds, in which humanity and love may yet triumph.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022