Breakup: A Marriage in Wartime, Anjan Sundaram

After ten years of reporting from central Africa for The New York Times, Associated Press, and others, Anjan Sundaram finds himself living a quiet life in Shippagan, Canada, with his wife and newborn. But when word arrives of preparations for ethnic cleansing in the Central African Republic, he is suddenly torn between his duty as a husband and father, and his moral responsibility to report on a conflict unseen by the world.

Soon he is travelling through the CAR, with a driver who may be a spy, bearing witness to ransacked villages and locals fleeing imminent massacre, fielding offers of mined gold and hearing stories of soldiers who steal schoolbooks for rolling paper. When he refuses to return home, journeying instead into a rebel stronghold, he learns that there is no going back to the life he left behind.

Telgi: A Reporter’s Diary, Sanjay Singh

On an evening in the late 1990s, when Abdul Karim Telgi spent more than Rs 80 lakh, an amount enough to buy 20 kilograms of gold at that time, on a dancer in a Mumbai dance bar, the police, politicians and the underworld immediately took notice. Who was this person? What business did he own? How had a man who was selling peanuts at a railway station a few years ago become so rich?

In 2001, when Telgi was arrested by Mumbai Police, his fake stamp paper scam was arguably the biggest in Indian history, at an estimated Rs 30,000 crore. As Sanjay Singh, then a young reporter with NDTV – who eventually exposed the scam in 2003 – discovered, there was more to it than just the mindboggling numbers. The quality of the stamp papers, which were printed on “obsolete” machines reportedly obtained from the government’s closely guarded security press in Nashik, was so good that it was difficult to tell them apart from the real ones.

Crafty and resourceful, Telgi kept the racket flourishing for more than a decade by involving not just government officials but also management executives who professionally expanded his network. A result of deep investigative work, in-person interviews and confidential case documents, is Telgi: A Reporter’s Diary.

The Idea of Ancient India: Essays on Religion, Politics, and Archaeology, Upinder Singh

The book draws on a vast array of texts, inscriptions, archaeology, archival sources and art to delve into themes such as the history of regions and religions, archaeologists and the modern histories of ancient sites, the interface between political ideas and practice, violence and resistance, and the interactions between the Indian subcontinent and the wider world. It also highlights recent approaches and challenges in reconstructing South Asia’s early history, and in doing so, brings out the exciting complexities of ancient India.

Memoirs of A Maverick: The First Fifty Years (1941–1991), Mani Shankar Aiyar

Of India’s civil servants, Mani Shankar Aiyar may have arguably had one of the most colourful careers. Known for his lacerating wit and many indiscretions, with a career that has seen great highs and lows, he has been a true maverick.

In his memoir, he tells the story of his first fifty years – from his childhood at Dehradun where he was raised by his feisty widowed mother to nearly becoming the president of the Cambridge Union, to working as a young diplomat who strengthened Indo–Pak ties by brilliantly managing India’s first consulate general in Karachi and then going on to work intimately with Rajiv Gandhi in the PMO. He also draws a revelatory and moving picture of Rajiv Gandhi. Above all, he doesn’t spare himself.

Every Vote Counts, Navin Chawla

As chief election commissioner, Navin Chawla supervised the landmark 2009 general election and several key state elections as well. Drawing on his wide-ranging experience, this book presents a riveting account of how the daunting task of conducting the largest electoral exercise in the world is undertaken. He also sheds light on the other issues India faces in conducting polls due to its size, population, geographical diversity, and the challenges posed by the people in power.

My World Without Jehan: Surviving a Brother’s Suicide, Liana Mistry

Relocating every few years, not always together, the Chinoys were far from a typical household. For all that, they were a happy family, until they could no longer pretend to be, when, in September 1986, they lost Jehan, the most tender and passionate of the five of them.

Many years later, the kid sister, Liana, tries to fill the gaping hole left by her brother, the loving though tempestuous young man who took his life at 22. She was 14 at the time. All she has of him now are her memories, fading at the edges, like the handful of old photographs she has of him. She can recall the flamboyant and popular boy at school, but also the one at home, manic depressive, and struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. Her family chose never to speak about the suicide – particularly to their youngest member – instead burying the pain they must have felt. Were they as ridden with guilt as she was, and is, for not being able to prevent Jehan’s death? Were they ashamed that he was not like other boys his age, that he was different? She doesn’t know. She lives her life grieving privately, imagining they’re doing the same.