Book review


Harper Lee’s magnum opus is perhaps one of the most widely read books today. However, it often finds itself under scrutiny for some of its themes.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel that everyone has either read or feigned familiarity with. Originally anticipated to achieve only modest sales, the book is recognised today as a timeless classic. The seemingly uneventful plot and the deliberate, unhurried pacing are common points of criticism. However, it can be argued that these very attributes are the source of its strength.

The novel is narrated in the first person by our narrator, Scout Finch, a little girl from the 1930s American South. Along with her brother, she takes us through the mundane life in her small town, which gradually reveals an atmosphere of gender and racial prejudice, reflecting the prevailing attitudes of that time. The story follows the experiences of these siblings and their friend as they gradually learn about the social norms and values of society. The racist and sexist ideologies of the time are depicted through various supporting characters, who are portrayed realistically as one would imagine for that time in America.


Scout is a spirited young girl who doesn’t just accept what she sees or hears from the town folk and constantly demands explanations from her father, Atticus Finch. Atticus, hailed as the novel’s hero, is a very virtuous man who embodies unwavering moral integrity. He consistently imparts wisdom to his children on delicate subjects instead of avoiding the challenge like other adults would. Young Scout, often oblivious and unaware, serves as the perfect receptacle for Atticus’s guidance. Atticus is a lawyer representing a black man falsely accused of rape. He does so in the face of judgement from both his family and the townspeople, who, during a period when the word of a black man held little sway over that of a white person, questioned his beliefs.

Through the trial that follows, the kids gain insight into the deeply ingrained prejudices of their society. They come to realise that the seemingly straightforward act of kindness and standing up for what’s right is, in reality, a complicated endeavor. Watching the story unfold from the perspective of a little child who doesn’t get why some people are treated differently leaves the reader with a deeper understanding of the absurdity of it all. The novel, through its simple and often amusing writing, leaves one thinking about the power of kindness, compassion, and the pursuit of justice.

The book is undeniably a literary classic but often finds itself under scrutiny in the educational landscape due to its use of racial slurs and the sensitive topic of rape. While the novel does employ racial slurs liberally, it is important to remember that it’s set in a specific historical context where the use of certain words was unfortunately prevalent. Moreover, the novel’s portrayal of the subject of rape is remarkably subtle, with no sensationalism. This approach has made it easier for the reader to better explore the broader themes of innocence, morality, and injustice.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ retains its relevance as it continues to convey the fundamental message that being a compassionate human being matters. And, given the world’s circumstances today, that is a lesson humanity should never grow tired of appreciating and practicing.

Read also: The Lesser Known History of Majnu Ka Tilla 

Featured image source: Bookstr

Arshiya Pathania
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A collection of poems, ‘Kyun-Dastan Khoj ki’ by author Suraj Singh discusses fundamental aspects of life ranging from wealth to love and friendship. Read on to learn more. 

‘Kyun?- Daastan Khoj Ki’ is a thought-provoking book that delves into the profound question of “why” and its significance in our lives. With a target audience of young adults, college students, and university goers, the book aims to inspire and guide readers as they navigate their aspirational goals and explore the depths of their curiosities.

The book’s investigation of the “why” question is one of its central themes. Although, it encourages readers to contemplate the reasons behind the major aspects of life, invites them to embark on a journey of self-discovery and understanding. And challenges them to seek answers, unravel mysteries, and find their own unique perspectives. The book severely suffers from a lack of coherence and thematic consistency. The poems seem disconnected and randomly placed, making it difficult for readers to find a unifying thread or sense of purpose throughout the collection. The absence of a strong thematic foundation leaves the reader feeling disjointed and disengaged, preventing any meaningful connection with the poetry.

The author, Sooraj Singh, a recent graduate of Hindu College, University of Delhi has demonstrated a empathetic understanding of the target audience, recognizing their aspirations, dreams, and challenges in the book. Through his poems, he aims to inspire and motivate young individuals to question, explore, and pursue their passions.

Additionally, Singh tries to spark readers’ curiosity by incorporating the “why” question throughout the book. This is done in the hopes that the readers’ future endeavors will be guided and shaped by their curiosity. Often times, though, these lines come out as unoriginal and overused, lacking the inventive wording and novel analogies that make poetry engrossing.

In conclusion, “Kyun Dastan Khoj Ki” by Suraj Singh is a good read  for those who enjoy contemplating profound questions and exploring certain aspects of philosophy, but is not recommended for those who are seeking an impactful exploration of Thematically-rich Hindi poetry.

DU Beat

A tale of love and loss set in the ages of Greek heroes, ‘The Song of Achilles’ is a mythological fiction novel penned by Madeleine Miller. The following piece is a review of this modern interpretation of ‘The Iliad’, examining the portrayal of queerness at its center through the author’s personal lens. 

A tale of love and loss set in the ages of Greek heroes, ‘The Song of Achilles’ is a mythological fiction novel penned by Madeleine Miller. The following piece is a review of this modern interpretation of ‘The Iliad’, examining the portrayal of queerness at its center through the author’s personal lens. 

Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed.

Homer, The Iliad 

A story about love, war, and everything that unravels in between, ‘The Song of Achilles’ is Madeleine Miller’s reimagination of the historic Trojan War, albeit from the perspective of an unnarrated character. Set in the age of heroes, we glide through the story of Patroclus, a young prince exiled by his father to the kingdom of Phthia, where he meets Achilles and embarks on a journey that is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking.

Awkward, and often inhibited, our main character Patroclus had always found himself not quite belonging anywhere in place or spirit. A sudden shift of events finds him in the Court of Peleus, Achilles’ home. Strong, handsome, and adored by everyone – Achilles is everything Patroclus was always expected to be. This marks the beginning of an ordinary friendship between the two that soon blossoms into something far more intense and enchanting, weaving us into a tale of love like no other. One can even go on to say that it’s the classic “socially awkward hero meets popular jock” trope, set in the time of legends.

An absolute page-turner and tear-jerker from the get-go, ‘The Song of Achilles’ is perhaps the most heartfelt and emotionally pungent book that I’ve read in a long time. The story from the start doesn’t stick to any traditional interpretation of ‘The Iliad’, exemplifying the great deeds of a conventional hero that one would probably treat as a fairy tale. Rather, through the eyes of Patroclus, Miller gives us the untold account of a character who was always veiled behind the shadows of great conquerors. It’s the extraordinary life story of an ordinary person. And in doing that, she gives birth to a tale that is so human and relatable in its essence, that it makes us shake to the core while bewitchingly asking for more.

As a person who identifies as Queer, reading ‘The Song of Achilles’ was like finding a mirror set amongst the landscapes of Greece. While being a story of love and loss, that is not all that the book encompasses. When I read about Patroclus describing his feelings on first realising that he was attracted to Achilles, I could echo the confusion that came with questioning his identity for the first time. His experiences of young love and the agony of not being good enough for someone else clearly spelled out the twisted emotions that I couldn’t find words to express before. It is then this tenderness and vulnerability of love portrayed by the author – so subtle in its narration, yet so powerful in its essence – that left me stung by a swarm of inexplicable emotions.

Perhaps the most redeeming factor of this book is that it doesn’t present itself as “a Queer love story”. Miller doesn’t place the protagonists’ Queerness as a distinction against prevailing heteronormativity – something that modern LGBTQIA+ centric romances are so fond of creating. We see no fetishization of the characters; they aren’t portrayed as alien species who’ve just discovered superhuman powers in the form of their sexuality, but just as two teenagers discovering the sweet reality of caring for each other. There is no need created for a grandiose “coming out” scene. And most of all, Achilles and Patroclus aren’t narrated to cater to the straight gaze. It is ironic that as a Queer individual, I could find more of myself between the lines of a mythological story than any modern Queer romances.

(Read also: The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller – Review by The Guardian)

At its heart, the book is everything you want from a modern rendition of an age-old romance: raw, soft, melancholic. Reading lines like “He is half of my soul, as the poets say” and “our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other” filled me with the bittersweet hope that love always brings. Miller’s rhapsodic descriptions and poetic voice are distinctively a literary symphony in themselves. To put it into metaphor, the book feels like the gentle warmth of sunlight on your back after a raging stormy day.

The biggest take back from the book for me was that it reignited the belief that love is indeed the most powerful force of nature, whether it’s on the battlefields of Ancient Greece or in 21st-century urban relationships. A tapestry of love that reeks of possibility and pain, ‘The Song of Achilles’ will be my foremost recommendation to everyone I ever meet. To all readers I’d say, quit romanticizing ‘Call Me By Your Name’ as the pioneer of young Queer love narration and pick up ‘The Song of Achilles’. I’m sure Achilles would be glad to know that his love for Patroclus didn’t end up being remembered as his Achilles’ Heel, but as a force so powerful, it helped all of us Heal.

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Featured Image Credits: All Characters Wanted

Molina Singh

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In times of an ideological crisis, conversations are imperative to prevent the homogenization of ideas by the authority. Rabindranath Tagore felt the emergence of a crisis during the freedom struggle. As a result, he delivered three speeches in different parts of the world, with two of them talking about the oriental ‘nations’ of India and Japan. The third lecture centered around the West and the ideology exhibited by its people. Tagore believes that the idea of nationalism originated as a measure to counter chaos and disorder. The chapter of nationalism in the west draws a subtle line between truth and untruth, and shows how untruth is lionized as a means to economic attainment. Through a resourceful criticism of the West, he gives them hope and assurance of a better future. The author praises the West for being a lover of individual rights and liberty but denounces its acts of suppression in the colonies. In Nationalism in India, Tagore scrutinizes the Indian society and provides numerous warnings to the same. In the beginning, he gives an explanation for the existence of the caste system and implicitly justifies it by terming it as a legitimate response to the diversity present in Indian society. Towards the end, he calls for action against the caste system, thereby retaining the faith imposed on him by his readers. Tagore showers words of praise for Japan, a nation which, according to him, embraced modernity while retaining its own spiritual and humanitarian values. He writes, “In a word, modern Japan has come out of the immemorial East like a lotus blossoming in easy grace, all the while keeping its firm hold upon the profound depth from which it has sprung.” As seen in the other two essays, he warns the Japanese as well, by saying that they might lose their ideals by racing with the west. “If it be a mere reproduction of the West, then the great expectation she has raised will remain unfulfilled.” The Nobel laureate writes the trio of essays by giving it a poetic touch. He’s able to capture the essence of oriental philosophy in a few pages, long before the world came to blows with each other. His essays draw a distinction between the oriental and the western culture, which serves as a beautiful reminder to the millennials, people who look at their hands and see no history. Tagore’s Nationalism ends with a Bengali poem, The Sunset of the Century, which is translated into English. In the last few lines of the poem, he appeals to the conscience of his readers through words weaved in majestic lines. The last stanza of the poem beautifully sums up his belief. Be not ashamed, my brothers, to stand before the proud and the powerful

With your white robe of simpleness.

Let your crown be of humility, your freedom the freedom of the soul.

Build God’s throne daily upon the ample bareness of your poverty

And know that what is huge is not great and pride is not everlasting.

Feature Image Credits: Sify

Kuber Bathla [email protected]]]>

Tired of romantic clichés? Want to savour jealousy, vengefulness, passion, and imagination? If your answer to these questions is- yes! Then Wuthering Heights is your one stop book destination. We bet it has more plot twists than your college life.

1.Humans are complex

Wuthering Heights has a theme that resonates time and again, screaming through the pages and chapters, warning the readers about the superficial extent of knowledge about a person that can have lethal consequences.

Be it Mr. Lockwood’s perception about Heathcliff, or Heathcliff’s love for Isabella or Linton’s blooming feelings for Catherine. It is a tricky business! Remember when Lockwood said, “He’ll love and hate equally under cover?” Lockwood must be dreading his own words in Chapter 33.

Didn’t you clench your heart when young Catherine was called by her uncle in the most hospitable manner ever? She thought of Heathcliff as a kind gentleman, but readers knew much more. Emily Brontë did not only want to get her readers to the edge of their seats but also had a lesson to teach. Humans can be complex, their psychological realms can resemble a spider’s web, so don’t be that fly!.

2.Man is a result of his situations- maybe (not)?

You’re lying if you couldn’t help but think how different Edgar Linton and Hindley Earnshaw were! Two loving husbands, death parting them from their wives. The difference- one turns to drinking, the other turns to his daughter. While Hindley turns to a lunatic, finding refuge in alcoholism, Edgar turns out as a loving father. The difference percolates through the generations and leaves imprints on the union of their children. (did we spill all the beans?)

“I used to draw a comparision between him and Hindley Earnshaw….They had both been fond husbands, and were both attached to their children; and I could not see how they shouldn’t both have taken the same road, for good or evil…Linton, on the contrary, displayed a true courage of loyal and faithful soul”

Now, one cannot ignore the fact that Hareton Earnshaw and Catherine Linton akin to Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Heathcliff and Hareton find shelter but fail to find familial love. But there is a difference, Heathcliff’s urge for love resembles tumultuous flames but Hareton’s love resembles rain after petrichor. Hareton amalgamates his wild spirit to his soothing love for Catherine. Heathcliff realizes this perfect balance that Hareton creates and makes Heathcliff realize his mistakes, (maybe) even turning him towards repentance. But one wishes if Hareton could lecture Heathcliff and force him to take down notes.

3. Love is a domestic affair- literally and very literally!

The love between siblings is not the usual hair-pulling and eye-scratching we can relate to! The Earnshaw siblings have a unique attachment which, even compelled Catherine to detach herself from Heathcliff. The Linton siblings have an unbreakable bond as well. Even when Isabella marries Heathcliff, Edgar’s isolation from Isabella is grave, but merely verbal. 

“It is out of the question my going to see her, however: we are eternally divided.

There is underlying concern and affection which is evident and highlighted when Edgar brings Linton Heathcliff after Isabella meets her end.

Incest reverberates time and again throughout the novel. Many critics argue that Heathcliff was Catherine’s foster brother and hence “suggests that an unconscious incest taboo impended Heathcliff and Catherine’s expectation of a normal sexual union”

As the plot unfolds, cousins share romantic relationships as Catherine and Linton marry, and later Catherine and Hareton unite. It might make some readers uncomfortable; however, Brontë weaves a story that focuses more on the turmoil of feelings than looking at the family tree.

4. It is not just a love story!

NEVER! NEVER tell a Wuthering Heights enthusiast that the plot is “only about a love story”. You might end up getting physically injured. (not kidding)

Brontë shows how love has other transcending emotions of envy, agony and betrayal. The novel seems to whisper- “How much love is too much love?” Is the failure of a romantic union capable to allow the usage of innocent lives as pawns in the ‘revenge game’? Such questions will make you scratch your head, the worst part- Brontë leaves these questions unanswered.

5. It’s complicated

Catherine and Heathcliff are in love, but Catherine marries Edgar Linton. Heathcliff marries Isabella Linton- his long lost love’s sister-in-law; his wife’s son marries her brother’s daughter; Catherine’s daughter marries her brother’s son. Are beads of perspiration rolling down your forehead already?

Do we still have to tell you to grab a copy of Brontë’s first and only published novel? Get your reading glasses and delve into one of the best gothic novels ever written.

Feature Image Credits: Priyanshi Banerjee for DU Beat

Priyanshi Banerjee

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Read our correspondent’s opinion on the book Fangirl. 

Fangirl is a coming–of–age story of two twins who grew up in the world of online fandoms. The protagonist, Cath, assisted by her twin Wren is one of the most successful fanfiction authors on the web based off of their favourite books. Wren and Cath had done everything together, owing to the absence of their mother in their lives growing up, until now. Moving out to university in Nebraska, Wren does not wish to be roommates with her twin and the decision proves difficult for Cath who has evolved into an introvert, being overly attached to Wren- her best friend and only link to a social life. Now being separated from her only source of comfort, Cath must face the life of a freshman in university, dealing with anxiety, a rude, eccentric roommate and hyperactive Levi, the guy who just won’t leave her alone.

Every chapter begins with excerpts from not only Cath’s fan fiction but also the “canons” from the Simon Snow books, which she is so intricately and deeply in love with. Through her writing, Cath can express things she can’t in real life, where she’s extremely reclusive and socially inept. Wren was the only one able to link with Cath and her parallel realities, but now she seems uncaring in her own party-life. Shaken, Cath finds solace in the company of Levi, and the emergency dance parties with him.

More than anything, the book proves to be extremely relatable. An easy, laidback yet creative and funny writing style aptly complements the fresh narrative layered with empathy, emotion and understanding.  

I’d wave my hands around and make noises to make everyone read this absolutely delightful yet a book that makes you think. It made all the emotional goosebumps and the teary-eyed reading and the big sighs happen for me as a reader. I so identified with Cath, with her determination, her directness and her fear of being a part of a world which was far from reality but brought her peace and ease when nothing else could.

So, fan-people, grab your copies today and let’s get that emergency dance party going.

 “Cath felt like she was swimming in words. Drowning in them, sometimes.”

– Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl


Feature Image Credits: Thoughts of a Bibliophile

Bhavya Pandey

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A 2008 Man Booker Prize nomination , Amitav Ghosh’s eye-opening work of historical fiction touches upon many contemporary social issues.

Set in the pre-Independence, colonial Indian subcontinent, Sea of Poppies by decorated historian and author, Amitav Ghosh is the saga of a phenomenon. In the first installment of the Ibis trilogy, the narrative of the book traces the lives of a diverse set of characters, forced together into complex social set-ups by the opium trade of British colonies with China and a slave-carrying ship.

On the face of it, the book seems only to be characterised by a Dickensian cast and crew that includes an out-of-place American, an opium addict from China and a European girl who’s actually native; but, there is definitely a lot going on under the surface.The book has many unconventional, honest, and raw women characters who break moulds. There’s Deeti, the widow of an addicted opium farmer, who choses and fights for her freedom by marrying outside of her caste after her husband’s death. There’s Paulette, who decides to run away to Mauritius aboard a slave-ship to escape the dire realities of her life back home and there’s Muniya, a young albeit naive girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. These women not only reflect the verity of our sociological growth as a country but also exhibit a deep insight into the kind of lives that women of our land have had.

The book also delves into an exploration of the caste divide in both rural and urban India before Independence and also talks about the rigidity of the society. Panoramic and rich in satire, Ghosh’s writing expresses what we already know in a manner that is opaque yet atrocious. The story-telling is engrossing and well-punctuated by his masterful weaving of local dialects and colloquial slang into the narrative. Painstakingly detailed historical accounts from the 19th century that reflect deep philosophies of an economically strained and colonised nation make the book a delightful read and coerce you to discern the deeper consequences of the historical events of a two hundred year span of imperialism.

With an absolutely appropriate title, Sea of Poppies is a meaningful read for all those interested in historical fiction that provides a lens to look at our nation and society in the contemporary world.

Feature Image Credits:Penguin Random House Canada

Bhavya Pandey

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Delving into Why I Am a Hindu by Shashi Tharoor and realising the truth about one of the oldest religion in this world and what it has become now has been nothing less than a tryst between our past and present.

I was a part of the Delhi University Theatre Circuit (DUTC) and anyone even briefly acquainted with DUTC knows very well that DUTC is crazy about Hinduism and Hindutva Politics. Ever since the game-changing play – Welcome to the Machine by Ankur, the theatre society of S.G.T.B Khalsa College came in 2014, the Delhi University campus saw conversations about saffronisation being loudly irked in public domain. And so I decided to read more about Hinduism and Hindutva. After a whole lot of research and reading several books, I stumbled upon Why I Am a Hindu by Shashi Tharoor.

Tharoor creates a mind-changing and super-impactful literary masterpiece that not only glorifies Hinduism in its pure form but also raises several questions regarding its current state in the mind of the readers. I, as a literature student, fell in love with the way the book is structured. I actually went over the index multiple times. Section one of the book makes the reader take a walk through parts of several religious books like Vedas, Upnishadas, Mahabharata, etc. It carefully explains truths, myths, rituals, and espoused in the dense religious texts. The second section deals with political Hinduism and sensational topics of Hindutva and cow politics. And then there’s section three, that asserts the hard-hitting truth and the alterations which we need in the current times.

Tharoor also focuses on several aspects to ponder about like Orientalism, Intellectual colonialism, retaining the pluralistic nature of Hinduism, and so on. Each of these aspects can be further elaborated in separate articles.  In times of constant turmoil of religion and politics, arming oneself with knowledge is one of the most impactful ways to contribute to the struggle of orthodoxy and fanaticism.

Feature Image Credit: Manorama Online

Palak Aggarwal

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Han Kang wrote this three-part novella, inspired by her short story Fruit of My Woman, in 2007. Deborah Smith translated the Korean novel into English in 2015 and it won the Man Booker International Award in 2016. The book has been widely read and Ms. Smith has been appreciated for her sincere translation. The subject and not the protagonist of the novella is Yeong-Hye who turns vegetarian after a gory and bloody dream. The book explores the various dimensions and consequences of this decision on her husband and family. The first section is a narrative by Mr. Cheong, her husband, expressing the havoc the decision wrecks on their family. The second section titled ‘The Mongolian Mark’ delves into the utter neutrality and insanity of Yeong-Hye post her divorce and her relationship with her brother-in-law who remains nameless throughout the story. The third part titled ‘Flaming Tress’ traverses through the past and present of the sisters, their dreams, and their inhibitions. The story is a dark tale at some levels as it plunges into the depths of cruelty against animals as well as women. It also has a feminist edge to it because the two women/sisters do not wish to conform to societal roles and want to break free from the clutches of patriarchy, one evident example of which is their father. The narrative is rhythmic and almost musical to the reader’s ears. It has a spontaneous bounce at the end of each sentence that I have never come across in any book. The story floats in front of the eyes and you feel one with the subject, Yeong-Hye. By the end of the story, the very definition of ‘vegetarian’ undergoes a paradigm shift. The choice of consumption of meat is questioned multiple times and the reader cannot disagree with it. Being a vegetarian in India would not be a hullabaloo but it is a complete change of one’s lifestyle in Korea, the place of the story. I, as a reader would have loved to hear Yeong-Hye’s voice in one part of the book to get a deeper insight into her decisions, insanity, dreams and reality. In a nutshell, the story is moving tale and should definitely be given a try.   Feature Image Credits: Daily Jstor Prachi Mehra [email protected]]]>

Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History edited by Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai encompasses the literary history of homosexuality, ranging from Vedic ages to 2Ist Century in India. With the NDA government derecognising transgender persons as the ‘third gender’ in the country’s labour law framework, Trump signing a directive that bans military from recruiting transgenders, and India voting against the ban on death penalty for homosexuality in United Nations, it looks like the attainment of LGBT rights have a long way to go. This makes me wonder, had our administrators read Same-Sex Love in India, edited by Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai, then we would not have had to see such policies being practiced. Edited by former lecturer and literature student of Miranda House Ruth Vanita, and activist-scholar Saleem Kidwai, this book has an array of writings on same-sex love picked up from over 2000 years of Indian literature. The book is divided into four parts. The first part deals with ‘Ancient Indian Materials’ coves Mahabharat, Jataka tales, and kamasutra. The second section caters to ‘Medieval Materials in the Sanskritic Tradition’ which talks about references to homosexuality in Puranas and folklore. The third section has ‘Medieval Materials in the Perso-Urdu Tradition’ that depicts homoerotic love expressed via gazals and Sufi traditions. The last and the longest, and perhaps the most interesting part, discusses the ‘Modern Indian Materials’. Here the subject goes from the letters of Amrita Shergill to Vikram Seth. The data on same-sex love in India is expansive and one can tell the meticulous level of research that must have been invested to put together as well as organise this anthology. Since many chapters are translations from more than a dozen languages and drawn from folk, Vedic, and Buddhist traditions, there is a well-explained introduction before all major chapters which contextualises the terms and subsequently makes it easier to understand the text. The book deals more with abstract love than with sex. The editors, Ruth Vanita resonates, “A passionate attachment between two persons, even between a man and a woman, may or may not be acted upon sexuality. For this reason, our title focuses on love, not sex.” Therefore, those looking for explicit mention of eroticism will be disappointed. Some people may even claim that devotional love, that is an intrinsic component of Sufi-Bhakti traditions, is being misinterpreted as homosexual romance. Overall, for a gender studies student, activists, and for those interested in queer history this book is a must-read.   Feature Image Credits: Palgrave Macmillan Niharika Dabral [email protected]]]>