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Tales from the Indian ‘outland’

book bazaar

If we consider ourselves living “inland”, the Northeast would be the “outland”, was writer Sudeep Chakravarti’s observation at the launch of his latest book at the Oxford Bookstore on July 14.

Highway 39: Journeys Through a Fractured Land (Harper Collins, Rs 450), the fourth book by Chakravarti, explores life and the situation in the troubled states of Manipur and Nagaland.

The writer — joined by writer-filmmaker Ruchir Joshi, writer-teacher Rimi B. Chatterjee and Ranabir Samaddar of Calcutta Research Group — narrated incidents and told stories of real people in the Northeast.

The book lays bare facts surrounding the states and its people through the author’s personal encounters: the story of an 11-year-old girl “abducted by police” in Manipur as they wanted to trap her parents; a “fake encounter” in Imphal that killed a former rebel; a family trying to come to terms with the loss of their youngest child to a mortar attack; and an 11-year-old girl who died trying to resist a rape attempt by a soldier.

“What drove you to write books like Red Sun [Red Sun: Travels In Naxalite Country] or Highway 39? Someone could almost accuse you of ‘Insurgency Tourism’ now,” quipped Joshi.

“When I was a student, my parents sent me away from Calcutta following the Naxal unrest,” replied the author. “But by then, I had already witnessed the army walk into Jadavpur University and gun down students with whom I would have sat and had chai. I got to tell a lot of stories while in the media but these stories just wouldn’t go away. That’s when I decided to pen them.”

Chakravarti read out excerpts from the book and his experiences and memory of his travels in Dimapur, Kohima, Senapati, Imphal and Thoubal.

Bananas & onions

Aparup Chakraborty’s book on indoor cricket, The Captain Speaks, was launched at Silver Spring on July 14 by former Test cricketer Pranab Roy and BCCI selection committee member Raja Venkat. “My main idea behind writing this book is to request the BCCI to take indoor cricket under their banner, as it has a bright future in India,” said Aparup (second from right in picture left), the captain of the Indian indoor cricket team, who had led the country in the 2009 Indoor World Cup. (Anindya Shankar Ray)

Five characters, one movie and perceived morality were being discussed at an interactive session on the book How About A Sin Tonight? (Random House, Rs 125) by Novoneel Chakraborty at Oxford Bookstore on June 19. The author was in discussion with writer Rahul Saini.

Chakraborty’s third book revolves around Shahran Ali Bakshi, a superstar with a twisted past; Kaash Sehgal, an upcoming actor with just one critically acclaimed movie to his credit; Nishani Rai, a glam diva who is out for vengeance; Reva Gupta, who has nothing but success on her mind; and Neev Dixit, who’s in love with Reva.

When Saini asked Chakraborty about the strong women characters in the book, he said: “I have this belief that men are like bananas. You peel it once and that is all there is to it. Women are like onions. You keep finding new layers.”

Is the book a banana or an onion? That, of course, is a different question.