The Dalit Truth: The Battles for Realizing Ambedkar’s Vision, edited by K Raju

The Dalit Truth brings together multiple Dalit voices as they reflect on Dalit struggles and call out to the future. The voices reflect on Dalit truths and the ongoing battles against the tyrannies of the caste system. There’s also a focus on the importance of Ambedkar’s Constitution in Dalit emancipation.

The essays offer insights into social, educational, economic, and cultural challenges and opportunities faced by Dalit communities and how political parties have employed these identities for ensuring social mobilisation and equality. The Dalit Truth brings us stories of not just dismay but imagines a future of promises, prospects, and reconciliations.

Battles of Our Own, Jagadish Mohanty, translated from the Odia by Himansu S Mohapatra and Paul St-Pierre

Battles of Our Own (Nija Nija Panipatha) was published in Odia in 1990 and has been translated into English for the first time. It is set in a coal mining district in western Odisha, where the author worked all his life. Mohanty draws on social realism, psychoanalysis, and existentialism to create a complete image of the industrial man. The conflict between the coal mine administration, the trade unions, and human ambitions makes Battles of Our Own an exemplar of “industrial novels” in Indian literature.

The Great Shutdown: A Story of Two Indian Summers, Jyoti Mukul

On 24 March 2020, the Indian government imposed a complete nationwide lockdown in hopes of curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to other restrictions, air travel and the Indian Railways were shut down. The shutting down of the railway network severed the only link for many people with their home states. The Great Shutdown closely inspects the repercussions of these decisions, especially the emotional crisis of migrant workers who were worst affected by these hasty decisions. The book also takes a look at other Covid-19 regulations that were enforced during the lockdowns and their humanitarian challenges. The author explores alternatives to travel shutdowns and nationwide lockdowns that might have helped mitigate human sufferings.

Blue Sky, White Cloud: Three Novellas, Nirmal Ghosh

A male elephant calf, born on the grasslands of the Brahmaputra River, grows into a formidable tusker. He journeys through the green hills of northeastern India and Burma as he attempts to understand the humans who have irretrievably changed the jungles and made unrecognisable.

Hira Singh is a forest guard in the Nadhia Wildlife Sanctuary. His path crosses with a female leopard who is distressed about the shrinking forests in the hills. Their lives reflect each other’s as they are brought together by fate, in similar patterns of love and loss.

Nadia, a wildlife biologist, is in Mongolia, researching geese. She tags two geese: Blue Sky and White Cloud. As the birds fly southwards over the Himalayas, she meets Vivek, India’s Minister of State for Environment. They struck up a friendship but Vivek is forced to make a decision that will impact the lives of all around him.

Blue Sky, White Cloud shows us that like humans, animals, too, have extraordinary stories to tell.

Forgotten Refugees: Two Iraqi Brothers in India, Nandita Haksar

Born in 1988 and 1991, even as children the two brothers witnessed their country descend into chaos and impoverishment after the Gulf War and American invasion in 2003. The bloody war and sudden disappearance of their father forced them to take a flight to India and seek refuge in an unknown country.

But India was far from welcoming. Branded “illegal” foreigners, the brothers lived in constant fear of their Muslim identity and being deported. Worst of all, the very agency that promised to help with resettlement, abandoned them.

In Forgotten Refugees, the brothers speak candidly about their experiences as refugees in India. The book also highlights the international refugee problem and how institutions that are responsible for helping refugees often fail at it. Written by a human rights lawyer who has specialised in refugee law since the 1990s, Forgotten Refugees reminds us that refugees are human beings and not mere statistics.

Hungry Humans, Karichan Kunju, translated from the Tamil by Sudha G Tilak

After four decades away from home, Ganesan returns to the town of his childhood. He remembers his youthful days of love and loneliness, the promise of talent, and how everything has been ravaged with age. While seeking treatment for leprosy, Ganesan must come to terms with with himself – his exploitation at the hands of older men, his desires and sexual identity, his disavowal of Brahminical morality, and his slowly degenerating body. He longs for liberation – sexual, social, and spiritual – and realises he will be liberated only when he accepts himself as he is. Hungry Humans is an introspection masculinity, desire, and sexuality through the lens of caste oppression.

The First World War Adventures Of Nariman Karkaria: A Memoir, Nariman Karkaria, translated from the Gujarati by Murali Ranganathan

Nariman Karkaria, a young Parsi from Gujarat, had always wanted to see the world. So he left home as a teenager with fifty rupees in his pocket to do just that. After working in Hong Kong and Peking for a few years, in 1914, he decided to volunteer for the British Army. Passing through China, Manchuria, Siberia, Russia, and Scandinavia, he reached London early in 1915 and found employment with the British Army. He was now a Tommy.

Karkaria saw action on three major fronts in the next three years. He fought for the British Army in France, Jerusalem, and Greece. After being discharged, he returned to India and wrote about his years of travel and adventures. First World War Adventures Of Nariman Karkaria is a spirited war memoir that is truly one of a kind.