Letter to the LeftWord Books community
We have opened our year with a publication that has been long anticipated – Teesta Setalvad’s Foot Soldier of the Constitution: A Memoir.
The book has already been widely reviewed all favorably and is on the road to appear in Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and a host of other languages. Teesta’s book tells an intimate story of a young woman from an important legal family who goes on the quest of journalism only to be dragged into the world of the law through her involvement with the Bombay riots of 1993 and the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. Written with great honesty, the book shows us the depth of Teesta’s commitment to the cause of justice and to the creation of a secular society. In First Post, Maya Palit writes, ‘The strength of Setalvad’s memoir lies in her skill of pointing out small but crucial details . . . forgotten aspects of the riot that go some way in capturing a crucial era of Indian history’. Binu Mathew, at Counter Currents, notes that Teesta’s ‘indomitable spirit in spite of all the wild allegations, smearing of reputation, false cases, public humiliation, personal attacks and trolling amazed me. I wanted to know what keeps her going. Thankfully, this book has all the answers’. We are very proud of this book and hope you will enjoy reading it – now already in its second printing.
Coming very soon is a slim edited book with a very large message: Will the Flower Slip Through the Asphalt: Writers Respond to Capitalist Climate Change. This book collects essays from such important and visionary writers as Naomi Klein, John Bellamy Foster, Ghassan Hage, Rafia Zakaria, Masturah Alatas, Shalini Singh, susan abulhawa and Amitav Ghosh. Of this book, the actor Emma Thompson says, ‘With the earth and its inhabitants under more pressure than ever before, and with bona fide climate change deniers in the most powerful positions on the planet, reading this book is essential. It informs and inspires the actions that we all need to take to protect ourselves and our homes. Read it, and after you’ve wept, act’. The book traverses the planet, from Palestine to Indonesia, from Pakistan to the United States. It is just over a hundred pages long, but packs in many hundreds of pages of insight.
Not far behind this book is a serious study of a forgotten riot in Tamil Nadu – the riots of 1957 in Mudukulathur. This book, by Professor K. A. Manikumar – the Vice Chancellor of Swami Vivekananda University – is a finely researched, pointillist study of a tragic ‘caste riot’ that was driven by electoral considerations and by the failure of Tamil Nadu’s ruling class to accept the demands for land reform. What distinguishes Manikumar’s study is its careful assessment of the reasons for the riot and his very studious understanding of its impact on Tamil Nadu. There are no loose words here. The book is tightly written, starting with the assassination of Immanuel Sekaran and ending with the death of Muthuramalingam Thevar. S. Krishnaswamy, Professor at Madras Christian College, says of the study that it ‘points the way to younger scholars who wish to examine social conflicts in India with an eye to the liberation of oppressed peoples’. We could not agree more.
Alongside Manikumar’s book is a gem of a book that we are very pleased to be publishing. This is Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s unfinished work – India and Communism. Towards the end of his life, Dr. Ambedkar drafted a note on this book and wrote two chapters. He was either not able to complete the book or he did not save it. Either way, what we have are vibrant accounts of the roots of caste in Indian society and his note. The introduction to this book is by Anand Teltumbde, who has written several essential texts on caste and Marxism – including Anti-Imperialism and Annihilation of Castes – and important work on contemporary Dalit history – including his most recent book, Mahad: the Making of the First Dalit Revolt. In his introduction, Anand not only provides important context for the book, but he offers a spirited and important critical assessment of the rift between the Communist movement and the Dalit movement. This is a challenging introduction, which must be read carefully. We are looking forward to the discussion that will follow from this essential contribution.
We also have, in the pipeline, two books on The Freedom Theatre, which is located in the Jenin Refugee Camp in the north West Bank, Occupied Palestine. One is a book of essays, and the other is a gorgeous book of photographs and text, designed by Sherna Dastur. Sherna, by the way, is the designer who’s done some of our loveliest covers, including our very first title, A World to Win: Essays on The Communist Manifesto (now available on Kindle).
Finally, from T. M. Thomas Isaac – Minister of Finance of Kerala – and Michelle Williams – Professor at the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa) – we have an account of the Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society. This is India’s oldest workers’ cooperative, now ninety years old. It began as a construction worker cooperative and now is much more diversified to include residential housing and IT infrastructure development – all the while making sure that its values remain intact. The book offers a history of cooperatives in general and this one in particular and then lays out the nuts and bolts of this cooperative society.
We have not forgotten that this is the centenary year of the Russian Revolution. Coming soon from us – a collection of Lenin’s writings, edited with an introduction by Prakash Karat; a collection of Alexandra Kollantai’s writings, introduced by Parvathi Menon; a first-time English translation of Nadezhda Krupskaya’s The Woman Worker, introduced by Elisabeth Armstrong; John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World, introduced by P. Sainath; and more . . .
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Vijay and Sudhanva