HarperCollins presents 'Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay: The Art of Freedom' by Nico Slate

Feb 28, 2024

HarperCollins presents 'Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay: The Art of Freedom' by Nico Slate

New Delhi [India], February 28: 'Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay: The Art of Freedom', by Nico Slate, is the third book in the Indian Lives series, edited and curated by Ramachandra Guha.
A Fourth Estate Book
Hardback | Non-Fiction | History | 392 pp | Rs 799
Available wherever books are sold | Out Now
In 1947, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay made an unexpected visit to a gloomy government building in New Delhi to confront one of the gravest crises facing the newly independent nation--the fate of the millions of refugees pouring in from across the borders with Pakistan. She had no official standing but managed to play a key role in the creation of a model town, built to house 30,000 people. This town is today's Faridabad.
This is just one of the many efforts--often forgotten--made by an indomitable woman who strove to empower others throughout her life. Born a Saraswat Brahmin in Mangalore, Kamaladevi was a performing artist, a Gandhian, a social reformer, an educationist, an institution builder, a patron of the arts, an author, a visionary. She built bridges across divides decreed by tradition, while establishing her own identity as an Indian woman finding a place for herself in a male-dominated world. Her dream was of an India that was free not just of colonial rule but of the shackles of poverty, caste oppression and gender disparities.
Nico Slate's new and definitive biography explores the life of Kamaladevi, one of the most inspiring figures of twentieth-century India.
Nico Slate says, "The story of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay--full of courage and creativity, struggle and sacrifice--is a story for all times and all nations. Kamaladevi's life offers a unique vantage point on the making of modern India, and on the relationship between India and the world. I hope that readers are moved and inspired--as I am--by Kamaladevi's bravery, her fierce opposition to injustice of many kinds, and her deep love for the arts and crafts of India."
Ramachandra Guha says, "Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was indisputably the most remarkable Indian woman of the twentieth century. Her life and work straddled so many fields: nationalist politics, socialist politics, feminist politics; refugee rehabilitation, the theatre, the renewal of handicrafts, and more. In his wonderful new biography, Nico Slate presents a full, rich, and always nuanced picture of Kamaladevi's many-sided public career. And he pays proper attention to her personal life too. His magnificent book is a compellingly readable account of an extraordinary life, as well as a uniquely illuminating window into twentieth-century Indian history as a whole."
Udayan Mitra, Executive Publisher, HarperCollins says, "Close on the heels of the wonderful reception we've had for the first two books in the Indian Lives series -- Patrick Olivelle's biography of Ashoka and Chitralekha Zutshi's biography of Sheikh Abdullah -- we are delighted to bring to readers a wonderful biography by Nico Slate of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, one of the most inspiring figures of the twentieth century. We hope that this excellent work on Kamaladevi's life will acquaint a new generation of readers with the myriad aspects of her groundbreaking work."
Nico Slate is Professor of History and Head of the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University. His research focuses on the transnational history of social movements in the United States and South Asia, with a particular focus on the history of struggles against racism and imperialism. He is the author of four books: Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2012), The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson and the Colored World of Cedric Dover (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), Gandhi's Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating with the World in Mind (Washington University Press, 2019) and Lord Cornwallis Is Dead: The Struggle for Democracy in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2019).
India is not the most important nor the most powerful country in the world. However, it has strong claims to being the most interesting. This modern nation is heir to a rich civilizational history, with the rise and fall of mighty empires juxtaposed with the rise and renewal of great religious traditions. The past two centuries have witnessed an epic struggle against colonial rule as well as the construction of the world's largest democracy--in the inhospitable soil of the world's most hierarchical society. This history, ancient and modern, has featured many extraordinary individuals active in a variety of fields: politics, spirituality, social reform, science, literature, art, music, film, sport and more.
HarperCollins is very proud to publish Indian Lives, a great new series of biographies where leading writers and scholars will focus on the life and legacy of important figures from India's history. The series is curated and edited by Ramachandra Guha and will feature biographies of extraordinary individuals who may be separated in time sometimes by centuries but whose impact on shaping the India we live in is indisputable.

HarperCollins is celebrating its 31st anniversary this year, having begun publishing in India in 1992. HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian Subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalogue of more than 2,000 titles across 10 imprints. Its authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, JCB Prize, DSC Prize, New India Foundation Award, Atta Galatta Prize, Shakti Bhatt Prize, Gourmand Cookbook Award, Publishing Next Award, Tata Literature Live! Award, Gaja Capital Business Book Prize, BICW Award, Sushila Devi Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and Crossword Book Award. HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Harvard University Press, Gallup Press, Oneworld, Bonnier Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet. HarperCollins India has won the Publisher of the Year Award four times at Tata Literature Live! in 2022, 2021, 2018 and 2016, and at Publishing Next in 2021 & 2015. HarperCollins India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers.
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