Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award for 2021
'A personal story of the way that the caste system in India [. . .] imprison[s] the humanity of those within them'-Gloria Steinem
Kumaon, 1856. History has already begun its steady march. Six native women clad in black and scarlet pichauras huddle around Naineetal Lake, attempting to cleanse it of ominous influences. These are the days of Upper Mall Road (for Europeans and their horses) and Lower Mall Road ('for dogs, servants and other Indians'). Amidst a theatre of British impunity, feisty young Tilottama Dutt, whose uncle is hung when he protests the reigning order, and her daughter, Deoki, confront change as Indians and as women.
Things to Leave Behind brings alive the romance of the mixed legacy of the British-Indian past. Full of the fascinating backstory of Naineetal and its unwilling entry into Indian history, throwing a shining light on the elemental confusion of caste, creed and culture, illuminated with painstaking detail, here is a fascinating historical epic and Namita Gokhale's most ambitious novel yet.
Namita Gokhale is a writer, publisher and festival director. She is the author of sixteen works of fiction and non-fiction. Her acclaimed debut novel, Paro: Dreams of Passion, published in 1984, has remained a cult classic and has been issued in a double edition with its sequel Priya. Gokhale has worked extensively across genres on Indian mythology, including her retelling of the Indian epic in the Puffin Mahabharata, and her novel for young readers, Lost in Time: Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions. The edited anthologies Himalaya and The Himalayan Arc: East of South-east provide valuable resource material on the culture and politics of the region. Gokhale is also founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and of Mountain Echoes, the Bhutan literature festival. She is director of Yatra Books, a publishing house specializing in translation.