Civil Lines 6 - New Writing from India edited by Mukul Kesavan, Kai Friese and Achal Prabhala is an anthology of the best writing in English by Indian authors of impeccable credentials.
Ruchir Joshi is a Calcutta-based film-maker and writer. U.R. Ananthamurthy is one of the leading writers from the South, whose body of work, including the classic Samskara, is largely in Kannada, Naresh Fernandes is consulting editor at Time Out India and is out with his excellent book, Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age, Manu Herbstein is of South African origin and a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize winner. Ananya Vajpeyi grew up in Mexico City and New Delhi and has taught and studied at various universities in the West. Nilanjana Roy is a Delhi-based columnist who writes on books for the Business Standard and the International Herald Tribune, Binyavanga Wainaina won the Caine Prize for African writing. There are many others, and this book is good.
The Remembered Village by U.R. Ananthamurthy: We lived with tigers. They were an unseen presence in our lives, their roars reverberating through the walls of our village home. The cows tethered in the adjacent shed seemed to know that a tiger was in the vicinity much before we did. The little bells slung around their necks would begin to tremble. It was a peculiar sound, and a signal for us to shut all doors and windows. We would huddle around my mother in a corner, as my grandfather recited slokas in the hope that the chant would keep the tiger away.
The Archivist by Ananya Vajpeyi: He breathed deeply the dampness of a library full of Sanskrit books. He was taking his last gulps of this peculiar air, laden as much with learning as with spores of mould and particles of dust and drops of moisture. He could feel his heart, so sluggish that morning, pounding in his chest.
‘Soon,’ he said to the bird of life within him, whose call was his heartbeat, ‘soon you will fly this cage.’
Skeletons by Naresh Fernandes: Bombay lore maintains that if you climb to the top of Mount Mary – the highest point in Bandra – and throw a stone, it will hit a pig, a priest or a Pereira.
Civil Lines 6 edited by Mukul Kesavan, Kai Friese and Achal Prabhala HarperCollins Publishers Rs.350