Five Hindi books you must read this year

If 2014 seemed to be a good year for Hindi
publishing, giving us a lively mix of young, restless
writers and reliable old names, this year promises
to be better. Young commercial fiction will be
everywhere, engaging the generation that has pre-
ordered the books online, but there’d enough
space for interesting titles in biography, historical
nonfiction and memoir. Here’s the best of the
Hindi publishing pipeline for 2015.

Ishqiyapa, Penguin
The second novel of Bihar-born Pankaj Dubey is a
dark tale of love in the time of globalisation in
which nothing is what it seems and no character
is above evil. The love story of Lallan Jha, the
wannabe entrepreneur, and Sweety Pandey, the
wannabe film-star, goes from Laloo-era Bihar to
city-of-dreams Bombay, and promises to pack in
more drama than one expects in a single novel.
36-year-old Dubey, who also writes scripts for
Bollywood, feels there is a marked difference
between the pre-1991 and post-1991 love (the
latter submitting to the rules of Dilwale Dulhaniya
Le Jayenge at some point or the other), and his
aim with book is to draw it out while giving his
readers a fun time.

Like his last book, the “cow-belt story” titled Loser
Kahin Ka/What a Loser, Ishqiyapa comes out in
Hindi and English at the same time, the English
version, translated by Dubey himself, named To
Hell with Love. Now famous for writing his books
in Hindi and English simultaneously, Dubey tells
me he does it to tap into the two distinct markets,
and because “there is no better way to promote
Hindi than to do it through English.”

Goa Galatta, Harper-Collins
In his last novel, Colaba Conspiracy, 75-year-old Surender Mohan Pathak’s latest anti-
hero Jeet Singh (“Zurm ki duniya uske liye aisa
kambal ban gayi thi jise woh choddta toh bhi woh
use nahin choddti”) saves his ex-girlfriend from
the charge of murdering her rich husband by
solving the mystery at the heart of the plot. Jeet
Singh’s new challenge is set in Goa.

“Amidst many intrigues and conspiracies at the
gambling den of Club Kokiro in Goa, Jeet Singh
meets the don of the city, Lawrence Briganza, who
offers him a contract to kill. Who is he going to
kill next?” goes the brief from the publisher. At
the launch of his last book, Pathak, who has
written more than 250 books that boast a
combined sale of over Rs 2.5 crore, said he hadn’t
spent a day off writing in his life. “If I’m losing
time, I’m losing money.” He also damned the
whole new generation of Hindi writers with the
statement that for them “writing books was on the
same level as having a pizza”.

Mamma ki Diary, Hind Yugm
According to the publisher Shailesh Bharatwasi,
this might be the first original work in Hindi on
motherhood and parenting. Written by Anu Singh
Choudhary, a 35-year-old media professional
whose Neela Scarf was among the most talked-
about Hindi books of 2014, Mamma ki Diary looks
at the larger story of the urban working mother
through the writer’s own experiences.

The book covers a range of themes around modern
Indian motherhood, from big ones like conflicts
between career and parenting to specific issues
like tantrums or post-partum depression. Talking
to women all around her (“parks, coffee shops,
school”) consolidated what had been her personal
notions about motherhood in the context of a
changing society, Choudhary told me. “I realised
that motherhood for this generation is so much
about learning new skills. My mother didn’t drive,
but I drive. She could never think of travelling
alone with the children, but I do. It’s the men
whose patterns of life have not changed.”

Vajah, Harper-Collins
This is the story of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s life
and his relationship with his second wife, Rattanbai ‘Ruttie’ Petit alias
Mariam Jinnah, written by Rajendra Mohan
Bhatnagar, a prolific Hindi writer who’s published
novels like Dilli Chalo, Neele Ghhodey Ka
Sawaar andPremdeewani. The book narrates their
story against the backdrop of the freedom

Bhatnagar’s account traces their relationship from
the summer of 1916, when Jinnah met Ruttie at
the Darjeeling house of his client and friend Sir
Dinshaw and was “enchanted with Ruttie’s
intelligence and beauty”, to February 1929, when
Ruttie, separated from Jinnah and living at
the Taj Hotel in Bombay as an emaciated recluse,
died as a 29-year-old.

Zindagi Aais Pais, Hind Yugm
This the second collection of short stories by
Nikhil Sachan, a 30-year-old who works as a
financial consultant in Gurgaon. Sachan’s first
book, Namak Swadanusar, came out in 2013 and
has been one of the most frequently ordered Hindi
books on the Internet ever since.

Once again, most of Sachan’s stories revolve
around children, as evident in the title, but his idea
of childhood has little to do with innocence. There
are also stories of nostalgia, felt by the
overworked employees of multinational
corporations about things they have left behind in
their small towns.

Among the politically sharpest writers of his
generation, many of Sachan’s stories show the
cruel hilarity of communal politics in India. He
attributes his remarkable grip on the fixations and
hypocrisies of Hindutva politics to the years spent
at Kanpur’s Madan Mohan Malviya Vidyalaya, “an
institution with deep RSS ethos”.

This time Sachan takes on saffron-style moral
policing through the story Vicky Malhotra ka
Pyaar, whose titular character is incidentally lying
about his name to get ahead in love and life.
Sudhir Kumar has decided to call himself Vicky
Malhotra because it’s the kind of the name that
screams cool confidence and wins over the girls.
It’s the name Shah Rukh Khan’s character
in Baazigar, Ajay Sharma, assumes to fool his
enemy into handing over to him not only his
daughter but also, famously, the power of attorney to his
business empire.

Several other promising books are scheduled to
come out this year, some of them being Zero Line
Par Gulzar, a book on Gulzar’s life and writing by
the painter and writer Ashok Bhowmick; Baat
Niklegi toh Phir, Jagjit Singh’s biography by
former Femina editor and writer Sathya
Saran; Chunav 2014, a translation of Rajdeep
Sardesai’s book The Election that Changed India;
and Agni Varsha, a translation of the new novel by
Amitav Ghosh, Flood of Fire.

This post first appeared on Scroll.in ( http://
must-read-this-year )


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