Posted by Literary Titan
NINU tells the saga of the Wanchos of Arunachal Pradesh and helps readers learn about North East India. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I am an Army Officer and I was posted to Tirap in November 1982. The area was still backward in terms of infrastructure and almost all activity in the villages necessitated active Army assistance. The area was very close to the core areas of the militant Naga Insurgent Group, the Naga Socialist Council of Nagaland. This insurgent organization had been formed in December 1979 and was declared an independent Naga Group in February 1980. This they announced to the world by carrying out the raid on Indian Army’s Kunsa Post as mentioned in my book. The Civil Administration was also dependent on the Army for routine activity in the villages. We thus became very close to the villagers who looked up to us for all kinds of assistance. Despite their disadvantages and dependencies, I found them to be very proud and actually very fiercely independent. They dressed in just an ordinary loincloth and beads. Some of them wore a coat. The Village Chiefs wore a red coat over the loincloth but that did not deter them from sitting in front of us and talking to us man to man. On their request to travel by air, our Brigade Commander sent two of them on a round trip from Dibrugarh to Tezu and back in a regular Indian Airlines regular flight. They were not shy to travel in their traditional dress. Besides the tribes of Tirap we had to travel to other areas of Arunachal Pradesh too. The State has over 40 tribes co existing peacefully and working towards development. Most followed their animist or Buddhist religions. Christianity has made rapid gains recently. I developed a very healthy respect for them. I felt that the world should come to know of these wonderful people. With the beginning I have made I do hope more people will write about these wonderful people and visit their villages. Arunachal Pradesh has opened its doors to tourism in a big way and eagerly welcomes anyone who desires to enjoy their beautiful land. Of Course, today the infrastructure is very good.
What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the historical aspects of the book were accurate?
I began this book as a historical narrative in 1986. Over a period of time, I collected all the material required for the book. History books on Assam are available aplenty. There are books on the society and culture too. The Government Gazetteers on Arunachal Pradesh and its Districts are priceless. However, my work in the Army and in the Corporate Companies precluded me from devoting time to begin writing. It was only in 2015 that I got down to collating the material into a book form. I then realized that the bland historical format may not appeal to the common reader. So I decided to add a little bit of fiction into it. This is a first historical fiction on Northeast India. I believe that this has lightened the book enough to enable an easy read. As I wrote, I included a lot of details of the area which may not essentially about the tribes. For example the information of the origin of Badminton in Thanjavur in South India; or Bamboo Flowering once I 12 to 20 years resulting in widespread famines; or the construction of the famous Stilwell Road from Ledo in India to Kunming in China by Afro American Troop Labor and Indian Labor; or the Naga Insurgency; or the advent of Catholicism in Tirap. All information is accurate besides adding interest to the original story. I can proudly state that with my extensive research, my book is a veritable reference book useful not only to the general reader, but to the Government Administrators and Armed Forces Personnel serving in the Area but also to tourists and general public to understand the area. The book also has a number of stories that could appeal to filmmakers.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?
I wish that more people come to know about Arunachal Pradesh both in India and all over the world and to respect all cultures equally and learn from them.
Do you plan to write more books on this subject?
I plan to write military fiction based on my experience in the army. My next book, based in Kashmir is on the way, but it will be very different from this book. I do not plan to write on Northeast India now, but I do hope more of my friends from the army write about their experience in the area.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: A Saga of the Valorous Wanchos, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, culture, ebook, goodreads, india, kindle, kobo, literature, Mady Menon, ninu, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, writer, writing
Posted by Literary Titan
NINU: A Saga of the Valorous Wanchos by Mady Menon is a historical and military fiction story about a real tribe (the Wanchos) in North East India, told by a fictional character. Peter Atamkhung Shawang is a student studying at Trinity College in London, but he plans to return to India to work on his thesis. Peter’s family is part of a tribe of headhunters who live in the village of Ninu. He shares the region’s history with fellow classmates and tells the story of his father’s childhood and career. Will the young man be able to hold on to his tribe’s traditions while living in an increasingly modern world?
Mady Menon has added a touch of authenticity to the story by including real historical events. The map at the beginning of the book helped me to better picture the region. You learn a lot about the history of North East India, from the constant struggles to maintain the Ahom kingdom for 600 years, to the native tribes living under British rule, to India becoming an independent republic and the many improvements made to the infrastructure in the area. I had little previous knowledge of the native people of this country, and it was interesting to read about the tribal structure and daily life in the villages. The author provided good descriptions of the setting, especially the village layout, the Naga Army headquarters, and Shawang’s mission school.
The historical information that was conveyed in the first part of the book, where Peter was relaying the history of the region reads a little like a professor giving a lecture. This slowed the pace of the story but it is all worth it in the end. There were portions where some of the historical details were repeated from previous chapters. The pace picks up when Peter was retelling his father’s life experiences and an overview of historical events was given while Shawang was visiting significant sites during his class trips and while working as a Circle Officer. I found the vocabulary definitions at the end of the book very helpful to clarify Indian terms used in the story. Ninu is an insightful and beautiful read that I highly recommend to readers looking to be immersed in an exotic and intriguing culture.
Pages: 272 | ASIN: B08GQYZ8BY
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, culture, ebook, goodreads, historical, historical fiction, kindle, kobo, literature, Mady Menon, memoir, NINU: A Saga of the Valorous Wanchos, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, writer, writing