To read or not to read: Yes. An interesting subject and good writing. But we got hold of a second-hand copy. It might be difficult to come by as the only edition I see on Amazon.in is a ridiculously priced imported edition.
SBR: The Princes is a charming, well-written book that doesn’t pretend to make a grand statement. It is narrated in the first-person voice of the heir-apparent of one of the small, deteriorating princely states of pre-independence India. It’s a bitter-sweet story of an old patriarch clinging to the old ways of life and his son feeling torn between his feelings of love and respect for his father, and his understanding of the changes coming with the rise of nationalism in the country that will inevitably sweep the parasitic class of prices away.
SBR: The Prisoners is a Bengali book, translated into many languages. I read it in English. It is a collection of short stories. Each story is about a prisoner in one of the Indian jails. The stories are set in pre-independence days and draw their inspiration from the author’s real-life encounters as a jailor. In today’s era, when we are used to hearing insider stories from all kinds of institutions, jails and judiciary included, the book doesn’t come across as particularly striking for its subject matter. Stories also feel too sanitized to my jaded mind. But it is an interesting read nonetheless, given the different kinds of people he talks about. From royalties and middle-class bhadra-lok to outlawed freedom fighters and outright criminals. The emotions can be complex and circumstances weird, and he captures them all.
To read or not to read: We got hold of it in a second-hand bookshop. Can’t find it on Amazon.in; so it might be a bit difficult to get hold of. You don’t need to go out of the way to find it, but if you do get it, it makes a decent one-time read.