My Books

What can you expect in a family of quirky adults, hyperactive children and an assortment of pets?  Growing up in a joint family in Thiruvananthapuram, the author and her siblings had many creatures great and small as pets such as Kesavan, the incorrigibly curious black monkey; Judie, the nimble giant squirrel; Mini, the shy mouse deer that strayed; Psitta, the cackling parakeet; Devil, the runaway hound and Maxi, the ratcatcher Pom. Their father, Anna, was in the Indian Forest Service and used to bring home abandoned and injured baby animals which the children named, nurtured and loved before taking them to the Trivandrum Zoo. The adventures and antics of the children and their pets together with the conduct of the adult humans make for a great deal of fun and laughter – not just in the backyard but indoors as well. 

These stories are bound to evoke “a twinge of nostalgia and a dollop of envy for the author and her adventures with her menagerie.” – Bahar Dutt 

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A Bond So Sacred tells the story of Raman, a satyagrahi, who adopts Kokila, an orphan. He leaves the five year old in the care of his mother while he plunges into the freedom struggle. His nationalist fervour, however, clashes with his love for Amina, his charming neighbour who wants parental approval to their marriage. Raman’s mother is as staunch a Brahmin as Amina’s father is a Muslim.  Will Raman be able to get their consent?

The joy of India becoming an independent nation is marred by Gandhiji’s death. Raman’s fellow satyagrahis have gone their ways and he finds himself with no role to play in a rapidly changing country. Meanwhile, Kokila, his protégée, has her own battles to fight. 

As the years bring them together again, Kokila discovers truths about Raman that she would never have imagined. She is forced to confront the ghosts of the past, his and hers.

“This is the book to go to if one needs to know about the struggle for Independence in pre-partition days, especially in the southern parts of the country.” Deccan Herald, 2016.

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A missing actress. A gutsy journalist. A cold-blooded murder. Twenty-four year old Aditi Sridhar is trying hard to establish herself as a newspaper reporter in Bangalore. In her first major feature article, Aditi, with her never-say-die spirit, resurrects Purnima, the once celebrated singer and actress from the 60s and now a forgotten and missing star. Soon, Aditi is warned off by an unknown caller. Intrigued and defiant, the feisty girl ropes in her friend Reshmi, a photographer, to help her track Purnima. Her detractors become bolder and more violent. Will Aditi solve the mystery that shrouds Purnimas disappearance? Will she unravel the dubious identities and missing links as she gets closer to Purnima? Or does something more sinister await Aditi as she risks her own life to find Purnima, dead or alive.

The first of a series featuring Aditi and Reshmi. Published under a pseudonym, “Usha Kathir.”

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Panchali’s Pledge

Panchali’s Pledge is the English translation of Bharati’s seminal work, Panchali Sabadham, based on the pivotal Game of Dice incident in the Mahabharata. Bharati wrote and published the first of the two part minor epic in 1912 while living in the French territory of Pondicherry to escape British persecution. Intended as a political allegory to the ongoing freedom movement and as an affirmation of the latent power in women, this is a rich and textured poem.

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Selected Poems of Subramania Bharati

Ranging from the fiercely patriotic and the deeply romantic to the humbling intensity of devotion and the sharp criticism of self and society, this selection brings together poems that reflect the very essence of Bharati’s broad philosophy. Usha Rajagopalan’s translations echo the lyricism and transformative power that have lent Bharati’s poetry their distinctive and enduring quality. They seeks to complement what Bharati himself set out to do with the original text: to create an epic using ‘simple phrases, a simple style, easily received prosody, and the rhythms used in the language spoken by the common man.’

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Corpse Kesavan and Other Stories

The eighteen stories in this first collection are a tribute to extraordinary India. The simple language and taut style enhance the uniqueness of every character.

“Judging stories is very subjective and it is rare for people to agree about  the merits of a story. Nevertheless, here is the same person getting through the sieve three times in a row….  Her (Usha’s) style is economical and straightforward and she conveys a great deal in very few words…”  Elizabeth Smith, O.B.E., Secretary-General, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association.

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Gauri’s world implodes on her when she learns that she is an illegitimate child, born out of her mother’s liaison with Raghu. One short trip to his house is enough for Gauri to realise her illegitimacy – and her father’s ignorance of it – is nowhere near the problems that Raghu’s family has. Traumatised by the violent death of their mentally challenged daughter, Amrita, on the night of her sister’s wedding, the story behind Amrita’s death unravels as the family reaches out to Gauri, each telling their story. Why and how Amrita died is a cross they will all have to bear, even Gauri.

“What a relief to read a novel with a difference. Rajagopalan deals with a very sensitive issue in a style and brings out the pathos and anguish with becoming maudlin.  Amrita is likely to stay with the readers long after they have finished reading it.” Seetha, The Book Review, March 2005

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Get Published

Get Published is a detailed guide for the aspiring Indian creative writer, providing information on all aspects of the publishing process. This well-researched, succinctly written handbook is the first of its kind in India, filling an important  gap in Indian writing with its range, presentation, and invaluable fund of details.

“Was it Einstein who said that genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration? We may not all be Shivaram Karanths, but surely, there is nothing preventing us from trying to be one? And this is where Usha Rajagopalan’s Get Published helps.” M.V. Kamath, Free Press Journal, 2006.

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