On the (book)shelf

Titles available at Books n Beans (Lahore) or through www.vanguardbooks.com

On the (book)shelf

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Alfred A. Knopf (paperback), 2013
PRs 665

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu, beautiful, self-assured, departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze, the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor, had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion – for their homeland and for each other – they will face the toughest decisions of their lives. Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: himamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.


In Good Faith
Saba Naqvi
Rainlight (hardback), 2012
PRs 795

Engaging and eloquent, In Good Faith makes a brilliant case for pluralism in India through examples of communities that live in perfect communal harmony with one another.

In an age when the idea of the religious community is determined by stereotypes and old fault lines, Saba Naqvi takes a journey across the country in search of her own identity among people, communities and shrines that challenge our predetermined notions of what makes a Muslim or a Hindu. Along the way, she finds places and people on the periphery of absolute identities, culling out a unique space for themselves in an orthodox, exclusivist society. In Good Faith is a journalistic account of the discovery of an India that at times defies belief: the India of faraway shrines in quaint little places, and of communities and individuals who reach out to a common God.

From the Muslim forest goddess of Bengal to an unknown facet of the Shivaji legend in Maharashtra; from the disputed origins of the Shirdi Sai Baba to shrines across the land that are both temple and dargah this book shows how, in these little pockets, the idea of a tolerant India still survives. These neglected ground realities, argues the author, these little islands of pluralism, music, art and culture, may yet provide a counter to fundamentalism.


Fountainhead of Jihad
Vihad Brown and Don Rassler
Hurst (hardback), 2013
PRs 5,600

Drawing upon a wealth of previously un-researched primary sources in many languages, the authors shed much new light on a group frequently described as the most lethal actor in the current Afghan insurgency, and shown here to have been for decades at the centre of a nexus of transnational Islamist militancy, fostering the development of jihadi organizations from Southeast Asia to East Africa. Addressing the abundant new evidence documenting the Haqqani network’s pivotal role in the birth and evolution of the global jihadi movement, the book also represents a significant advance in our knowledge of the history of al-Qaeda, fundamentally altering the picture painted by the existing literature on the subject.


Midnight’s Descendants
John Keay
William Collins (paperback), 2014
PRs 995

Dispersed across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, Midnight’s Descendants – the generations born since the 1947 “midnight hour partition” of British India – are the world’s fastest growing population. This vast region and its peoples wield an enormous influence over global economics and geopolitics, yet their impact is too often simplified by accounts that focus solely on one nation and ignore the intricate web of affiliations that shape relations among British India’s successor states. Now, in Midnight Descendants, celebrated historian John Keay presents the first comprehensive history of this complex and interconnected region, delving deep into the events that have shaped its past and continue to guide its future.

Combining authoritative historical analysis with vivid reportage, Keay masterfully charts South Asia’s winding path toward modernization and democratization over the past sixty years. Along the way, he unravels the volatile India-Pakistan relationship, the rise of religious fundamentalism, the wars that raged in Kashmir and Sri Lanka, and the fortunes of millions of South Asian migrants dispersed throughout the world, creating a full and nuanced understanding of this dynamic region. Expansive and dramatic, Midnight’s Descendants is a sweeping narrative of South Asia’s recent history, from the aftermath of the 1947 partition to the region’s present-day efforts to transcend its turbulent past and assume its rightful role in global politics.