Aleph Book Company’s ‘Short Biography’ series is a set of little gems. The biographies are of cities, but they’re not dry histories full of footnotes. The authors are insiders, and writers of repute, and these pocket-sized books are as much about their relationships with their cities as anything else. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Patna book, am halfway through Madras, and Bombay waits impatiently in my book bag. And there are more of them around the corner.
If you’re looking for gifts for the festive season, these are excellent buys for anyone from these cities, or for people going there. Or even as a gift to yourself. Actually, don’t get tied down by the city connection; these are worth reading anyway.
A Short Biography of Patna: City of Rats, by Amitava Kumar Madras: Degree Coffee by the Yard, Nirmala Lakshman Bombay: City Adrift, by Naresh Fernandes
Due in November and January respectively: Calcutta: City of Delusions, by Indrajit Hazra Delhi: Capital City, by Malvika Singh And in end-2014, Lucknow, by Mushirul Hasan. All at Rs 295 alephbookcompany.com