“Chai, Khatai and a Militant” — An Excerpt from Sandeep Raina's A Bit of Everything (Context/Westland, 2020)

Inverse Journal presents an exclusive excerpt from Sandeep Raina’s recently released novel, A Bit of Everything (2020) courtesy of the publisher (Context/Westland). This excerpt is accompanied by an independently curated visual bibliography relevant to the novel and its author.

“Nothing moved except the mirage”: Analysing Fear and Freedom in Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail — by Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee

Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee presents an academic paper that is also a book review for Palestinian author Adania Shibli’s 2020 novel, “Minor Detail” (New Directions). A finalist for the National Book Award, “Minor Detail” is one of the most relevant works of contemporary Palestinian literature that connects 1949 and the Nakba with present day Palestine—as its protagonist digs into the past to uncover horrific truths. Mukherjee’s response and writing on the novel and its many themes is essential to understanding the greater depth to be found in decades of Israeli occupation over Palestinian land and life. The academic not only includes relevant criticism within this piece but also integrates theoretical formulations and observations by various scholars and thinkers that are pertinent to her own readings, such that through her ‘book-review-as-academic-paper’ one gets access to entire bodies and fields of knowledge, from postcolonial theory to resistance literature. Just as “Minor Detail” tells the story of a people and their larger history by means of a protagonist, Dr. Mukherjee’s paper offers multiple vectors of understanding in order to facilitate incisive critical engagement with this recent work of Palestinian literature.

Prajnya Gender Talks: Muslim Women, Agency and Resistance in Kashmir — by Dr. Inshah Malik

Dr. Inshah Malik speaks in relative detail about her monograph, “Muslim Women, Agency and Resistance Politics: The Case of Kashmir” (Palgrave Pivot, 2019). The book presents a considerable volume of research and knowledge about the agency of Muslim Kashmiri women and their varied roles in forming and shaping resistance, a subject that has been undermined, if not ignored, in the global arena of academic writing. As such, this seminal text serves to break multiple stereotypes and myths, while uncovering the history of a multifarious resistance by Kashmiri women, whether against state control, patriarchy (both militarized and societal) or political repression. As a visiting professor, Dr. Malik also gave a related lecture on the subject for the South Asia Center at the University of Washington earlier last year. Relevant links included.

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s This Mournable Body (2020, Faber) — A Book Review by Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee

Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee reviews Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga’s critically acclaimed novel that was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in July 2020. The Mournable Body is the final novel in a trilogy by the novelist, playwright and filmmaker.

The Books That Shaped Our Year (2020) – Curated by Majid Maqbool

With the end of the year here, Majid Maqbool presents a curated list of books read by Kashmir’s writers, poets, academics, journalists, and some of our Kashmiri and international contributors who have supported us from the beginning. Their comments and reflections on their particular selection along with the book covers and relevant links are included (with inputs from Amjad Majid). Each book is hyperlinked back to the original publisher or a relevant resource. As we look towards the future, Inverse Journal ends this year’s tumultuous publishing cycle with this piece published in the last hour of 2020.

Book Review: Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora? — by Shah Munnes Muneer

Book Review: Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora? — by Shah Munnes Muneer

Four years after its release, “Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?” (Zubaan Books, 2016) remains relevant as an essential text that is read, re-read and reviewed, as is the case with this piece by Shah Munnes Muneer. Authored by five women researchers and activists, the book revisits and details the documented case of mass rape and torture of Kashmiris by the Indian army that took place on the intervening night of February 23rd and 24th (1991) in the adjacent hamlets of Kunan and Poshpora (Kupwara). Given the unrelenting spirit and perseverance of the victims, February 23rd is commemorated as Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day as the struggle for justice continues. As part of such a commemoration, we have included key media and articles embedded directly herein from their original sources.

Dictionary of Kashmiri Imponderabilia — by Onaiza Drabu

Dictionary of Kashmiri Imponderabilia — by Onaiza Drabu

An “annexe” to a book can reveal the great detail and dedication with which such a book has been researched, elaborated and written. Such is the case with this excerpt from Onaiza Drabu’s The Legend of Himal and Nagrai (Spoken Tiger Books, 2019) that the author names the “Dictionary of Kashmiri Imponderabilia.” The excerpt is an annex listing words, proverbs, expressions and phrases taken from the Kashmiri language in a retelling in English of a series of Kashmiri folktales that, in the field of world literature, are equivalents to One Thousand and One Nights (Alf Laylah wa-Laylah), Aesop’s Fables, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, The Decameron or James Stephen’s Irish Fairy Tales. We have included the summary of Drabu’s book (from the publisher), along with her author’s note on this “Dictionary of Kashmiri Imponderabilia” as well as relevant links. All materials published with permission from the publisher, Spoken Tiger Books.

Reading Discourses of Power and Violence in Emerging Kashmiri Literature in English: The Collaborator and Curfewed Night — by Amrita Ghosh

Reading Discourses of Power and Violence in Emerging Kashmiri Literature in English: The Collaborator and Curfewed Night — by Amrita Ghosh

Abstract: This essay studies two literary texts on Kashmir, The Collaborator (2011) by Mirza Waheed and Curfewed Night (2010) by Basharat Peer and analyzes the discourses of power and covert and overt forms of violence that the works present. It first contextualizes events from the last three years that have occurred in Kashmir to present forms of violence Kashmiri subjects undergo in the quotidian of life. Thereafter, it situates the two works by the Kashmiri writers in the growing body of writing in English on Kashmir and historicizes the conflict. The essay, thus, argues that the selected literary works represent Kashmir as a unique postcolonial conflict zone that defies an easy terminology to understand the onslaught of violence, and the varied forms of power. As analyzed in the article, one finds a curious merging of biopolitics and necropolitics that constructs the characters as “living dead” within this emergency zone. For this, the theoretical trajectory of the essay is mapped out to show the transition from Foucault and Agamben’s idea of biopolitics to Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics. Thereafter, essay concludes how the two texts illustrate Agamben’s notion of the bare life is not enough to understand subjects living in this unique postcoloniality. The presence of death and the dead bodies go beyond bare life and shows how that bodies become significant signifiers that construct a varied notion of agency.

International Book Club Discusses the Now Classic 'Until My Freedom Has Come' (Penguin, 2011)

International Book Club Discusses the Now Classic 'Until My Freedom Has Come' (Penguin, 2011)

Hoda Khatebi converses with Sanjay Kak, editor of “Until My Freedom Has Come” (Penguin, 2011), contributor Mohamad Junaid and Professor Hafsa Kanjwal about the present circumstances faced by Kashmiris in context of what the important text discussed eight years ago upon its publication. This revisitation to the book is as relevant as ever, especially considering the current climate entrapping Kashmir. Attached along with the Youtube Live Stream of the one-and-a-half hour discussion is a series of bibliographical references and resources to familiarize readers with some of the extensive work about Kashmir by the participants.

Three Poems by Amirah Al Wassif from “For Those Who Don’t Know Chocolate”

Three Poems by Amirah Al Wassif from “For Those Who Don’t Know Chocolate”

Amirah Al Wassif from Egypt introduces three poems from her recently published collection “For Those Who Don’t Know Chocolate.” Amirah has published novels, short stories, poems and songs in Arabic, as well as certain works in English with certain poems translated into Spanish. The poems presented here reflect a poetic response to the human condition of those who live under poverty, famine, war, oppression and extremely harsh conditions.

Review: William Orem's "Our Purpose in Speaking" (MSU Press) — by Dustin Pickering

Review: William Orem's "Our Purpose in Speaking" (MSU Press) — by Dustin Pickering

Dustin Pickering reviews “Our Purpose in Speaking” (MSU Press, 2018), the debut book of poems by Emerson College’s senior writer-in-residence William Orem, who recently won the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Award. Pickering consistently familiarizes readers with Orem’s poetry collection from a particular understanding that is in tune with the reviewer’s greater appreciation for poetry. In doing so, the reviewer situates Orem’s verses within a greater history of poetry inspired by an engagement with God, life, being, existence, nature and world from the optics of contemporary Christianity, and in particular Catholicism. For the greater readership, the review elucidates the relevance of such introspective and contemplative poetry with religious motifs and undertones as one that is equally innovative and in constant development, which is best exemplified by Pickering’s engagement with specific poems and with the collection as a whole.

Book Review: David Devadas' The Generation of Rage in Kashmir (Oxford University Press, 2018) — by Sohini Chatterjee

Book Review: David Devadas' The Generation of Rage in Kashmir (Oxford University Press, 2018) — by Sohini Chatterjee

Sohini Chatterjee provides a thorough ‘reading as review’ of David Devadas’ recent book “The Generation of Rage in Kashmir” (Oxford University Press, 2018). The many ideas that emanate from Devadas’ work on Kashmir are presented by Chatterjee in an elaborate manner to articulate the redundant question of “why are Kashmiris so angry?”, addressing an unfamiliar yet curious Indian and possibly international readership. However, in doing so, the basic and ritualistic understanding of Kashmiri “rage against the machine” is reduced to a lack of faith in the Indian system, again parting from that “unquestionable” premise that “Kashmir is an integral part of India.” Chatterjee’s review offers an excellent summary and understanding of the text, revealing a greater effort from Devadas in critiquing India’s policies and operations in Kashmir, which according to this review could as well be deemed as malpractice, misgovernance and blunt use of violence as opposed to tactics of crowd management in situations of repeated protest. The questions of islamicization, Islamophobia, political Islam and the seeming allure of Sharia law and a caliphate for common Kashmiris are also explored in the book. War profiteering and benefiting from a “conflict economy” by various figures and parties is also observed in the text. Chatterjee, in familiarizing readers, effectively and cohesively allows us to navigate through the important aspects of Devadas’ writing, while also providing a thorough preview of the many ideas that the author elaborates and that require actual and direct engagement with his text to get to a deeper view of his understanding, analysis, synthesis, commentary and historiographic engagement with the Kashmir of the last decade, starting from the symbolic year of 2007. As a proclaimed insider-outsider, and a translator of the situation in Kashmir to an ambivalent Indian audience, a purposefully apathetic and dormant central government, a willfully oblivious bureaucracy, in this book, Devadas also fulfills a scholarly role to present his differed and nuanced views on Kashmir as an alternative to the in-depth research and academic writing produced by a variety of Kashmir scholars. Chatterjee’s reading as review works effectively to generate greater curiosity in a wide array of readers, so much so that the book can be perceived as essential reading for those who wish to understand the conditions from over the last decade that have led to the unchanging and escalating atmosphere of violence in the Valley, of course from within that unquestionable framework of Kashmir being an integral part of India.

Matheson Russell, "Husserl: A Guide for the Perplexed" — by Matthew Boss

Matheson Russell, "Husserl: A Guide for the Perplexed" — by Matthew Boss

This book is one of a recent series of “Guides for the Perplexed” largely devoted to “Continental” philosophers (but also including guides to Wittgenstein and Quine). It sets itself the task of presenting the interested student with a succinct introduction to Edmund Husserl’s philosophical work in its breadth and richness. Husserl (1859–1938) is a philosopher whose writings are in no little need of clarification to the uninitiated, a fact well known to those familiar with the work of the founder of the phenomenological movement. His influence is so far-reaching that much of the subsequent tradition now usually called Continental philosophy is scarcely intelligible without reference to it. Yet access to his thought is invariably hindered by a complex, dense terminology and a difficult style which is precise and scientific rather than instantly perspicuous (and usually further complicated by translation). The several “introductions” to phenomenology penned by Husserl himself, forever the “beginning philosopher”, present the reader with an ever-finer series of conceptual distinctions and ever deeper layers of analysis of consciousness and its acts – a further source of confusion for the non-expert. This book attempts to alleviate this confusion.

Knowledge is like Teher.
A handful of cooked rice
a humble offering
to ward off the grief
from an entire century.
Whosoever receives Teher
does so with blessings
and well wishes.
Today the T in Teher
is the T in Taaleem
just as the K in Kashmir
is the K in your name.
From Teōtīhuacān to Tral
we make a humble offering.

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