ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Flowing Together, Falling Apart?

Confluences: Forgotten Histories from East and West by Ilija Trojanow and Ranjit Hoskote (New Delhi: Yoda Press), 2012; pp viii + 215, Rs 300.

This is an enlightening and challenging book that could mean many things to different people as the title itself suggests. A “convergence” suggests a coming together in an end point. A “confluence” implies a flowing together in a continuing process, open-ended and not always predictable. Even when we track the many streams as they flow together to make a new one, we do not quite know where this confluence will flow. Rivers can unpredictably change their course over the years.

In a conversation at the book’s release in Mumbai earlier this year, the authors suggested two ways this book can be read. Trojanow recommended this book to those “who had somehow ended up leading lives of diversity and were continuously bewildered by it”. For Hoskote, “it is also a handbook of intellectual self-defence in the face of identity politics”. It may be comforting to look back into the past and trace the genealogies of our heritage and find ourselves to be the lucky heirs of an undeserved multifac­eted legacy, to seek therein a refuge and defence against the antagonisms and hostilities of our everyday circumstances. But this book is meant to do more. It is also a challenge and a call to discover and own our legacy, and bring it to bear on our problematic present, even as we carry it forward into a creative future.

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