Bureaucratic in its convolutions and brutal in its deceptions, the war on terror has had an impact on our lives that we do not yet understand. We sense it. A growing claustrophobia, wariness, suspicion, the stickiness of constant surveillance. But for those who are actually entangled in it, the trap has teeth and they are fierce. Author and teacher Amitava Kumar examines the mangled lives of some of those who tripped. In a US court Hemant Lakhani, an old man with a congenital heart condition, stands trial for selling a fake missile to an FBI informant; in another court Shahawar Matin Siraj, inveigled by the FBI into a conspiracy to bomb a subway, is sentenced to thirty years in prison. In New Delhi Kumar interviews S.A.R. Geelani, the mild-mannered professor apprehended for the 2001 Parliament attack, jailed and tortured. He also tries to speak to Tabassum Guru, the wife of the man on death row for the same attack, at the Sopore hospital in which she works. A few kilometres away, in Srinagar, he visits an army camp, where he sees the peculiarities that develop in an everyday battle-zone that is also a living, working city. And, he catalogues, with the critic’s compass and a curator’s zeal, the fierce renewal in art and literature that has evolved out of the war. Spanning the subcontinents of India and the USA, part reportage, part philosophy, part protest, this is a book whose importance cannot be exaggerated. Its intellectual power and moral force will keep the reader pinned to the page.
Manufacturing crime Livemint
Encounters of a different kind The Hindu
A terrible beauty Business Standard
The deceit of information Financial Express
Art as catharsis Business Standard