Marginlands: Indian Landscapes on the Brink Has Been Shortlisted for the 2023 Tata Literature Live! First Book Award (Non-fiction)

‘Arati Kumar Rao’s timely book comes as a warning in a world
that’s riddled with too many difficulties. Richly intense writing …
A marvellous treatise on life on the margins, on cultures on the
brink and on the disappearance awaiting ecosystems. It is a lesson
and, at the same time, a heartfelt tribute to India’s diverse ecology.
Marginlands is a work that makes you despair as well as hope’

~ Rahul Singh, Deccan Herald

‘In chapter after chapter, [Kumar-Rao] tells poignant stories of loss,
including those that can’t be quantified … Through her meticulous
research and impassioned storytelling, she unveils the multifaceted
challenges faced by local communities, wildlife and ecosystems on
the brink of irrevocable change. [Her] eloquent prose breathes life
into the pages … the fragility of these regions becomes palpable,
igniting a sense of urgency to protect what remains. [Marginlands] is
yet another reminder that the fate of our environment is intricately
braided with our own’

~ Nawaid Anjum, Federal

‘A few pages into the book, I realized that if Kumar-Rao’s pictures
are a brush-stroke, words are definitely her sword. She writes with
searing clarity, weaving strands of history, prose, and science together
into a compelling narrative. Marginlands does not weep; it shares
the wisdom of ancient people and mixes their native language into
the main story … and in doing so, offers us a front-seat view of
the subtle yet tectonic changes taking place in ecosystems across the
country … I would urge you to read this book. This is bold writing’

~ Bahar Dutt, Frontline

‘There are very few storytellers who can let go of their comforts and immerse themselves in the harsh environments they talk about. Arati Kumar-Rao is one of them, which is why her work never fails to inform and astound … What makes this book special is that it’s not an academic exercise on Indian landscapes. It is more about the lives, both human and wild, that are an intrinsic part of these ecosystems. Rao combines folklore, science, history, personal accounts and policy decisions to paint images through words that illuminate our understanding. It’s a book that lays bare the ecological wonders and human blunders of India’

~ Manu Moudgil, Tribune

‘Kumar-Rao’s commitment to spotlighting the stories of people affected by decisions taken far away from their reality is reflected in her words, images and illustrations … The book has the lucidity of fiction and the factual punches of non-fiction … It’s like she has created a time capsule, documenting practices that have been handed down over generations, which help people live in harmony with the land, or of people who have lost and lived with the vagaries of nature and human decisions. For anyone concerned with the environment, the lives of people, and the often convoluted business of coexistence in times of polycrisis, the book is a must-read’

~ Shatakshi Gawade, Sanctuary Asia

‘Exemplary … Kumar-Rao evocatively tells us the stories of the wasted landscapes of our country and of the unforgivable official neglect of traditional wisdom and knowledge systems, which sustained the people living here …. The writing is riveting … This book needs to be mandatory reading for all the planning mandarins who ought to get out of their offices and do the kind of fieldwork Kumar-Rao has done, before launching their grandiose projects’

~ Ranjit Lal, Open

‘Timely … Arati Kumar-Rao documents first-hand accounts of apathy toward the environment and how it is affecting lives on the fringes of our country’

~ Shail Desai, Moneycontrol