The year gone by may well be missed by readers and bookworms as it witnessed the return of some heavyweight writers like Ruskin Bond, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie and Amitav Ghosh.
Bond’s A Gathering of Friends, which is a collection of 21 short stories chosen by the author from a body of work written over a period of 50 years and including much loved stories like The Blue Umbrella, The Night Train at Deoli, Susanna’s Seven Husbands and The Prospect of Flowers, was published to coincide with his 81st birthday and became an instant hit.
The year also witnessed the release of Salman Rushdie’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, which is his first novel after The Enchantress of Florence in 2008. Readers of "magical realism", synonymous with much of Rushdie’s writing, thronged online stores with their pre-orders weeks before the actual release of the book in India.
Then there was Vikram Seth’s collection of poetry, Summer Requiem and Amitav Ghosh’s Flood of Fire from Ibis Trilogy, which were widely acclaimed by reviewers, critics and general readers. At the same time there were some brilliant non-fiction titles like An Upstart in Government by Arun Maira, To the Brink and Back by Jairam Ramesh, No Regrets by D N Ghosh, Landmark Judgements by Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, The Public Intellectual in India by Romila Thapar, Rebooting India by Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah, Dreaming Big by Sam Pitroda, Neither a Hawk nor a Dove by Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, The Seven Sages by Ramchandra Gandhi and Pandeymonium by Piyush Pandey.
However, as we bid goodbye to the first week of 2016, there appears a ray of hope for readers and book lovers with a number of offerings to look forward to in the coming months. Bollywood legend and BJP politician, Shatrughan Sinha’s biography Anything But Khamosh, released just on Tuesday, is the authorised biography of the actor that has been written after seven years, 37 interviews and over 200 hours of taped conversation and includes photographs from the Sinha family&’s private archives. Anything But Khamosh is on the stands already and is a perfect pick for the new year.
Caroline Newbury, vice-president, marketing and corporate communications, Penguin Random House, had earlier told The Statesman, "In the coming year from a Penguin Random House standpoint, we have an extremely strong six months, which will continue to be dominated by some big name non-fiction." In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri is a beautiful account of Lahiri’s love affair with Italian about the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice. The book will release in the first half of the year. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s masterful book on genetics, The Gene will release in June, Sunil Khilnani’s Incarnations will provide a portrait of India through the remarkable lives of 50 of its most well-known and sometimes little-known figures; Kaushik Basu will publish his portrait of An Economist in the Real Word; acclaimed historian Srinath Raghavan will provide a new analysis of the Second World War in India’s War and in June Ruchir Sharma releases The Rise and Fall of Nations.
Penguin India also recently acquired the rights for Democrats and Dissenters, a major new collection of essays by Ramachandra Guha. The book covers a wide range of themes: from the varying national projects of India’s neighbours to political debates within India itself, from the responsibilities of writers to the complex relationship between democracy and violence. It has essays critically assessing the work of Amartya Sen and Eric Hobsbawm, essays on the tragic predicament of tribals in India (who are, as Guha demonstrates, far worse off than Dalits or Muslims, yet get a fraction of the attention) and on the peculiar absence of a tradition of conservative intellectuals in India. Democrats and Dissenters also releases this year.
Then there is The Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar, where he talks about the ever-changing face of Indian cinema, Bollywood music and, of course, the personal relationships, friendships and rivalries in the industry. The publisher’s note says, "By the time you’re done with this book, you’ll be dying to have coffee with Karan." Emraan Hashmi Memoirs by the actor and Bilal Siddiqi will also release in April. In the book Hashmi recounts the early years of his career and the series of events that led him to Hindi cinema.
Rupa Publications will, in January, release Volume 2 of President Pranab Mukherjee’s autobiography, covering the period from 1980 to 1996. In March, P Chidamabaram is also set to release a book, which is yet to be titled while in the following month Jairam Ramesh’s In the Crossfire, that analyzes the mechanics of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, will be released.