In Japan there is a legend that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will have their wishes realized. But folding cranes, and the meditative, solemn care that it involves, has come to mean more than just an exercise in wish making. Origami cranes have become a symbol of renewal, atonement and warning. Their symbolism may have emerged out of Japan’s particular mythology and history, but they do not belong to any one nation. The crane is a migratory bird that crosses borders and makes its home with scant regard to the blood-soaked lines that humans have drawn on maps. This anthology uses origami cranes as a way for some of India’s best-known writers and poets to form a shared civic space for a conversation about the fault lines in India at a time of darkness. The twenty-three pieces collected here encompass reportage, stories, poems, memoir and polemic—the kind of complex and enriching diversity that India demands and deserves. The paper crane becomes a motif of connection, beauty and reclamation in an otherwise degraded country, enabling those who fight with words to become the best army they can be.

Reviews

  • Apologising for the Past to Build an Empathetic Future by Rakhshanda Jalil, The Wire

    An excellent volume....Taken together, all 23 pieces make compelling reading and leave one wishing that we in India too could devise an over-arching symbol of hope and redemption, one that would unite rather than divide us, teach us to love rather than hate, cause us to look forward with pleasure rather than look back in anger.

  • Something Rich and Strange by Nahla Nainar, The Hindu

    Something rich and strange... as this anthology shows, there are clearly many ways to fold a piece of paper.

  • Battling the Menace by Mandira Nayar, The Week

    Heart-warming as well as heart-breaking, the anthology is an antidote for anyone who felt helpless—there is a tribe, and for once it is not just on Twitter but in the comfort of black and white—but it is also very much a battle plan. These, then became the weapons to fight for her India as Aiyar writes. It is her army of words marching out in the world. The only way forward is hope.

  • Read, resist and relearn from new books in the new year by Somak Ghoshal, The Mint

    A Thousand Cranes For India is an attempt to direct our attention to the spirit of solidarity that still endures in India--and why. From reportage to verse, an eclectic assortment of writing lends new meaning to the well-worn dictum, 'unity in diversity'