Wednesday, the 22nd of September, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!
Today’s pick is a book that was lent to me but one that has been on my shelves for very very long now (may be four years), but I still haven’t returned it since I do mean to read it but have been putting it off since said four years. The book is This Is Not That Dawn by Yashpal, originally written in Hindi, and translated into English in 2010 by the author’s son Anand, and published by Penguin (one of the modern classics). The book has previously been translated into Russian and Chinese as well. Born in 1903, the author, Yashpal, was a political commentator and socialist who wrote not only novels and short stories but also essays, plays, and travel books. He was the recipient of the Sahitya Academy Award and also the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour.
This book, This Is Not That Dawn, was first published in two volumes in 1958 and 1960–as Jhoota Sach or the False Truth. It starts in the period before partition, and follows the lives of the characters in post-independence India until the 1950s. Opening in Lahore (now in Pakistan), we follow Puri, ‘whose ideology and principles often come in the way of his impoverished circumstances’, Tara, ‘who wanted an education above marriage’, and Asad, ‘who was ready to sacrifice his love for the sake of communal harmony’. The partition and the accompanying carnage that ensues on the eve of Independence shatter the beauty and peace of the land, and alter the lives of these and other characters forever. Described as a ‘controversial’, and ‘politically charged’ novel, it is also a ‘powerful tale of human suffering’. It has also been described as ‘feminist’ in its treatment of issues like marriage.
This book has been compared to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but really its subject matter is also how ordinary lives–of young idealistic people with dreams of their own–were impacted by the partition and its aftermath and the direction that they take. While an important aspect of Indian history, it is not one I have read a lot of–in fact one I have rather avoided because I know how difficult it will be to read about, even though it is an important book to read. (I have also avoided or rather put off many other books with this theme as well.) Another reason this book has been sitting on my shelves so long is its length–the volume I have is 1119 pages and in fairly tiny print. But I do know I want to read this, and really, I do need to return it as well, so this post is just a reminder to myself to do this sooner than later.
Have you read any books set around India’s partition and its aftermath (fiction or non-fiction)? Which ones? Any you’d recommend? Are there any historical periods or events you find yourself putting off reading about? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!
Lisa’s pick this week is Sorry I Missed You by Suzy Krause, a story about friendship, ghosting, and the answers to life’s mysteries.