The Wait is and is Not - Nitasha Kaul

You Don't Mess with Viru - Jayant Kripalani

The Last Journey Home - Siddhartha Gigoo

Family Trip - Mihir Vatsa

For the Longest Time - Mridula Koshy

The Tree's Passport - Sumana Roy

I Try to be so Buddhist - Robert Sugg

Oh God, My God - GB Prabhat

Stroke at Noon - KL Chowdhury
(personal narrative)

Unbroken Awareness - Tendair Mwanaka

Island of a Thousand Mirrors - Nayomi Munaweera

My Hungry Workers - Sourabh Gupta
(personal narrative)

The Stone - Anupam Choudhary

The Return - Shirani Rajapakse

The Unsent Email - Shyama Laxman

Poetry: Naseer Ahmed Nasir
(Translated by Bina Biswas)

Dr Bhikbab Changes His World - Sheela Jaywant

The Pillar of Society - Manju Kak

Book Reviews

Distant Traveller - Attia Hosain
(Mita Bose)

London Company - Farrukh Dhondy
(Rakhshanda Jalil)

The Cripple and His Talismans - Anosh Irani
(Mariam Karim)

Their Language of Love - Bapsi Sidhwa
(Arjun Raj Gaind)

Silk Fish Opium - Jaina Sanga
(Suneetha Balakrishnan)

The Blind Man's Garden - Nadeem Aslam
(Mariam Karim)

The Almond Tree - Michelle Corasanti
(Bina Biswas)

Nobody Can Love You More - Mayank Austen Soofi
(KG Sreenivas)

Along the Red River - Sabita Goswami
(Abdullah Khan)

Tales of a Journalist, Bureaucrat, Spy - Som Nath Dhar
(KG Sreenivas)

Che in Paona Bazaar - Kishalay Bhattacharjee
(S Ramesh)

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Book Review

Along the Red River (A Memoir): Sabita Goswami

– Abdullah Khan

Publisher: Zubaan
Genre: Non-Fiction
Extent: 320 pp
Price: Rs 395

Sabita Goswami, the author of the book under review, was the first woman journalist to do a field reporting job for international organisations like the BBC and the AFP in the North East. She has also worked for many renowned Indian publications including Blitz and The Week. During her tenure as a correspondent for these publications, she travelled through all obscure nooks and crannies of the North East, including those danger zones where most people feared to tread. In the process, she could observe the region closely and collect stories which became her autobiographical columns in the Assamese Journal and which later became a book called Mon Gonger Terrot or Along the Red River. But, this memoir is not only about Assam or the North East; it also tells us the story of the author's personal struggles.

Written in a non-linear fashion, the book reads almost like a novel as it opens with the announcement of a curfew in the city of Guwahati, and we are told about the disturbances in Assam during early 1980s. Then the story moves to the Delhi of 1990s. We hear from the author about her marriage in 1962, when the Chinese army had made illegal forays into the Indian Territory. And so on.... Sounds confusing? It will not be when you actually read the book, as the author has manipulated her narratives in such a way that the reader doesn't feel the continuous leaping back and forth in time. Nor will you feel distracted by the regular shifts from the personal to the socio-political and vice versa. As a writer, Sabita Goswami scores over the others here. The other things for which we must give credit to the writer are the objective perspective and insights she gives into the problems of the North East. For most of us, the North East invokes images which tell us that it is different from the rest of India. The North-Easterners are also seen as monolithic entities, which is a completely wrong perception. They are as diverse as the whole of India with their myriad ethnicities, languages, cultures and religions.

Crafted with skill and full of lyrical prose, Along the Red River has three strands of narrative – each of them, of course, moves parallel. One is the personal journey of Sabita, the author, where we see her struggling single-handedly with the vagaries in her life. The second is Sabita's story too, but particularly representative of an Indian woman, and this flows into the larger theme of being a woman in a male-dominated and heavily prejudiced Indian society, with its own challenges and anxieties. The third element is the contemporary history of Assam and the North East – of the 1970s and '80s, when it was in turmoil – an anti-immigrant movement had acquired hues of separatism and thousands of precious human lives were lost.

The best thing about this memoir is its honesty, as the author doesn't flinch from telling the truth. As an Assamese, it must have been very difficult for the author to maintain objectivity in the narrator's voice throughout the book, but she has done it and has refused to take sides on political or socio-political issues.