Each week, we’re asking different writers, artists and others to share some of their current favorites. This week we feature picks from Amitava Kumar.
1. Ambedkar: The Fight for Justice
This summer I read a graphic novel Ambedkar: The Fight for Justice that I think needs to be read by all those people who read only prize-winning fiction by Indian writers. It was originally published in India by Navayana under the title Bhimayana. The book is a brief biographical account of Babasaheb Ambedkar, the great Dalit scholar and political leader, with the images drawn by two Gond tribal artists. The book is unusual, quite distinct even from other graphic novels I have read, the art beautiful and evocative, depicting a life that must have flashed meteor-like across the Indian sky in mid-twentieth century.
2. Jai Bhim Comrade
Another brilliant portrait of Ambedkar in recent years is veteran documentary film-maker Anand Patwardhan’s Jai Bhim Comrade. A protest against the oppressions of caste, and a tribute to Ambedkar’s great struggle, this documentary is remarkable because it shows that the fight against injustice has been carried on countless brave martyrs.
Amitava Kumar is the author of several books, including A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb. His latest title, A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna, was published in India in July and will appear in the UK and in the United States in April 2014. He is a professor of English at Vassar College.