Letter from the Editors, November 2016
3 November 2016
Dear LeftWord Community,
As you read this letter, you should know that across India kisans are on the march. Organised by the All-India Kisan Sabha, they are part of an immense Jatha that will descend on Delhi on 24 November for a large rally. At our LeftWord Blog, there is a short note on the Kisan Sangharsh Jatha. We hope you will go and read it. The blog post on the rally is only our most recent offering. At our LeftWord Books Blog, you will find posts on the work of our author Suchetana Chattopadyay, a review of Mangai’s Acting Up and a story about P. Sainath’s forthcoming book for us on The Last Freedom Fighter. The Blog is our window to the world.
We, at LeftWord, are aware of our very limited offerings on rural India. There is of course the important two volume collection edited by Utsa Patnaik – The Agrarian Question in Marx and his Successors, volume 1 and volume 2. We do not have enough books that delve into the on-going crisis of agriculture and of the agrarian world in contemporary India. We hope to remedy over the course of the next few years with a series of books: Kisan Reader, which will collect the most important essays of agrarian struggles since the 1940s, including extracts from Mohammed Abdullah Rasul’s A History of the All-India Kisan Sabha; PARI Reader, which will collect the best of the stories at the People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI); Landscapes of Unequal India, edited by Jyotsna Singh and Akshay Deshmane, which will carry original reports from across India – including rural India – on the stresses and strains of working-class and peasant life. We look forward to more such books and hope that you will let us know what you’d like to read.
We have been working hard on the remainder of our list for 2016. The books include:
- Teesta Setalvad, Memoirs. We are thrilled to present to you – very soon – the reflections of journalist and activist Teesta Setalvad, who takes us back to her childhood and family and takes us through her brave journey on behalf of the survivors and victims of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. Teesta’s engagingly written book pushes against the demonization by the media and shows us who she is and what she stands for. This is truly a superb book.
- M.A. Manikumar, Murder in Mudukulathur: Caste and Electoral Politics in Tamil Nadu. This book is a careful archival investigation of the caste riots in East Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu in the late 1950s. It shows how the cleavages of caste opened up – resulting in violence along lines that reinforced social divisions rather than opening up new avenues for emancipation. This book is not only going to be a contribution to the study of the modern history of Tamil Nadu, but it will also be a necessary study of caste and politics.
- B.R. Ambedkar, India and Communism. Introduction by Anand Teltumbde. Babasaheb Ambedkar left behind an unfinished text that he planned to call India and Communism. This was going to be his full-fledged study of the problems faced by Communism in India – namely, the difficulty of building a communist movement without confronting caste hierarchies. Anand Teltumbde, one of the leading intellectuals in India, has written a powerful introduction to this book. It is a challenge to both the Communist movement and to the Dalit movement. We hope that both movements – parallel lines – will take Anand seriously and consider the unities that need to be built in struggle.
- Naomi Klein, Let Them Drown. Writers Respond to Climate Catastrophe and Capitalist Chaos. Naomi Klein, the celebrated Canadian author, delivered the 2016 Edward Said Memorial Lecture in London. The theme of the lecture moved swiftly from Palestine and green colonialism to racism and climate change – the perpetual dynamic of the theft of land is coupled with the loss of land to rising seas, in both cases with darker bodies to forfeit their humanity for others to thrive. We will publish this lecture alongside responses from such important writers as Masturah Alatas, John Bellamy Foster, Susan Abulhawa, Rafia Zakaria, Ghassan Hage and Sahar Mandour. Their responses are poetic and wondrous, reinforcing and deepening Naomi’s visionary lecture.
Our volume – Communist Histories volume 1 – is available as an e-book. It has been enthusiastically received. We are now working on the second volume, whose main theme will be caste and communism, with a broader look at communism and social identity. We are looking for original, well-researched (archival or ethnographic) essays that elaborate on this theme. If you have work you are doing along these lines, please write to [email protected].
Our team has been working hard to help people discover our books. We have conducted flash sales and had an active presence at books fairs as well as on social media. It is hard to make space for ourselves as the capitalist book publishing houses monopolize the space for discussion through their own high-profile advertisements, book launches and other such shenanigans. They create a culture of books that is antithetical to our own. We believe that we have better books than many of these presses, but that we suffer from a lack of capital. We’re grateful to our team for their efforts and for the dedication of our readers. This year we would have published more than a book a month. This is at a rate that we had hoped to reach within a few years: it has taken us only a year to get there.
Please keep an eye out for these books. You will know about them from our website, and of course from our social media (twitter and facebook) as well as our newsletter. Please follow us on twitter, friend us on facebook and – by all means – visit the website as often as possible. We rely upon you to tell you friends about our books. Our books are getting widely reviewed, but they would benefit from your help.
If you're in Delhi, please visit May Day Bookstore (pictured above), with Studio Safdar right next door. Not only does the bookstore have more books than what we have on the website, we also have bags, mugs, posters, badges and a bunch of other cool stuff. And, of course, you can meet the lovely comrades who keep this whole thing going!
If you have any comments on our books or on our website, please let us know. We would really like to hear from you. Help us make LeftWord the best Marxist book house on the planet!
With festive greetings,
Vijay Prashad, Chief Editor ([email protected])
Sudhanva Deshpande, Managing Editor ([email protected])