2019 marked a fantastic boom in Indian publishing, especially for non-fiction titles - several publishers reported great renewed interest as the Indian readerâs curiosity kept bringing them back to bookshelves time and time again. Several gifted authors also produced works of merit that received widespread national and international acclaim - here are some of the very best we saw across 2019.The Absent Dialogue: Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Military in India - Amit Mukherjee
Â© Oxford University Press/Brookings Institution
Informed by more than a hundred and fifty interviews and recently available archival material, The Absent Dialogue sheds new light on India's military and will reshape our understanding of both the history and contemporary dynamics of civil-military relations and recurring problems therein. A must-read for anyone curious about the state of our military bureaucracy today, and how it came to be.
Â© Twitter/Penguin India
Singh was a campaign strategist for the BJP in 2014. After he resigned, he publicly spoke about how they deal in fake news and censorship, creating quite the uproar in 2018. His book reveals an inside view of just how political parties use data analytics, political consultants and what goes on in the forbidden election war-rooms of Indiaâs political heavyweights. The book is invaluable for its extensively researched content, personal anecdotes and exclusive interviews.
Â© Pan MacMillian India/Twitter
Urban India generates close to 3 million trucks of untreated garbage every day. If these were laid end-to-end, one could reach half way to the moon - but just how did we get so dirty? Questions such as these, and a deep exploration of Indiaâs most obvious everyday problem present themselves in Wasted. Bisen aims to help people understand the complex, cast-driven dynamics behind sanitation and the invisible socio-political pressures that keep us from being a true âSwacch Bharatâ. A must read for those interested in policy, civil planning and the environment.
Â© Simon & Schuster/Sukhi Dhanda
The dramatic true story of Udham Singh, a young orphan survivor of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, and his ferocious 20-year campaign of revenge that made him a hero to hundreds of millions. Anandâs book is voraciously researched and reads much like a dramatic thriller - taking us through a long journey from the blood-soaked earth of Amritsar to Africa, the United States and finally to London, where Singh finally finds his target.
Through a combination of Bollywood and the recent public interest upsurge in ISRO, many of us came to know that a huge part of Indiaâs space programme is frontlined by women. Vaidâs book helps draw light towards the challenges and triumphs experienced by ISROâs female scientists. Itâs also been recently updated to include a bit about the 2019 Chandrayaan-2 mission, and a bit of speculation about the future of ISRO and careers in science for Indiaâs women.
Â© Twitter/Rupa Publications
One of the most honest, gritty and upfront autobiographies written by an Indian in recent years, Rangnekarâs story takes us through the 1970s to the modern LGBT revolution in India, charting a course through years of confusion, fear, depression and ultimately self-discovery and acceptance. Itâs a work written in deep retrospection and has been described in the authorâs own words as the story of âgaining an identity but losing a near lifetime, looking for love and companionship.â
Â© Twitter/Penguin India
One of the most fascinating premises for any true story, Behind Bars In Byculla charts crime reporter Jigna Voraâs journey as a jailed suspect in connection to the underworld elites of Bombay. Covering seven years of jail time, courtroom sessions and her final days before acquittal, Voraâs story is incredibly fascinating. Particularly interesting are the interviews and conversations she had as a crime reporter behind bars, crossing paths with fallen socialites, gambling donnas and even Pragya Thakur.