Suraj Gurung’s bird book rustles the literary world

Monday, Jan 01, 2024 23:15 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Dec 31, 2023 17:39 [IST]

Suraj Gurung’s bird book rustles the literary world


SILIGURI, : Year 2003 ends on an exciting note for book lovers and also good news for nature lovers, travellers and those with a penchant for poetry. A bird book that breaks new ground – ‘A Rustle in the Foliage’ written by Sikkimese writer Suraj Gurung has paved the way for a completely new genre of nature writing.

The one-of-a-kind bird book with a collection of travelogues, anecdotes, essays, and poems along with 84 colour photographs gives a unique perspective on the avian world.

‘A Rustle in the Foliage’ is published by Rachna Books & Publications, Gangtok. World renowned British ornithologist and author Carol Inskipp has written the foreword to the book.

The bird book is a result of the author’s journey into the world of avifauna that traverses through remote locations in his home State and the adjoining hill regions of Darjeeling and Kalimpong as he treks for hours braving rain and cold, in search of rare avian species. In addition to the birds in the wild, the book also depicts common birds in a new light and reveals their distinct personalities.

The author, a travel writer and a wildlife photographer takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through the verdant oak forests of Neora Valley, the alpine rhododendron groves in western Sikkim, the cold desert of Gurudongmar on the edge of the Tibetan plateau and the warm wetlands of Gajoldoba in Jalpaiguri.

The book-release event held at BukAnt, Salbari had the participation of nature lovers, bird photographers as well as distinguished literary personalities from Siliguri, Darjeeling and

Sikkim. The programme started with a book review by environmentalist and eco-entrepreneur Utsow Pradhan.

In his address, Pradhan said, “The book ‘A Rustle in the Foliage’ talks about sustainable birding by bringing the issue of responsible birding and the usage of birdcall playbacks in the field. Through some of his poems, the author also subtly talks about the need for conserving our traditional ways of agriculture and the sowing of endemic food grains of the Eastern Himalayan region that will sustain the avian population and bird tourism. The survival of the endemic birds depends largely on the sound and healthy ecology of the region.”

Pradhan added, “The book needs to be incorporated into the school curriculum for children so that they may learn about the urgent need for the appreciation and conservation of our environment and ecology”.

‘A Rustle in the Foliage’ garnered praise from the academic world too.

In her address during the event, Priyanka Chatterjee, Assistant Professor (English), North Bengal University shares that ‘A Rustle in the Foliage’ showcases a new way of writing with empathy about our surroundings and our entangled lives, is not just a tale of birdwatching but also a tale of the region – the Eastern Himalaya.

“The narrative also challenges the metaphor of the ‘fastness’ of our lives in the current capitalistic system by slowing down the narrative and making us absorb the sounds of the forest and nature. The narrative style is crisp and has an economy of words that never spill over the boundaries. The book is interspersed with brilliant photographs of birds and rhyming poems that are not only self-reflective but also a happy digression from the prose, yet equally intense. The book is replete with local names of trees, birds and local myths and legends in the narrative is reminiscent of cultural storytelling that is fast vanishing from our disintegrating lives.”

She added, “The book which is at its heart a tale of birds, is also an inviting read for many different strands of writings which ruffles up categorization. It has literary, social, cultural and environmental connotations that make it an exemplar of transdisciplinary writing. It is a book that speaks of nurturing our passion with the utmost care, nurturing the world around us, and nurturing the self into someone who understands the world with empathy so that we can pass it on to the future and our children.

Thereafter, Lekha Rai, proprietor at Café the Twins and literary enthusiast was in conversation with the author. During the talk, many things regarding birding, bird photography and issues related to the conservation and sustainability of bird tourism as well as village tourism were discussed at length.

The book-release event also had the presence of Pempa Tamang, former senior bureaucrat,

Government of Sikkim, Subash Deepak, veteran journalist and accomplished litterateur, Dr. Sonam Wangyal, renowned historian and author, and Rajen Moktan, retired Police Officer -turned- birder and writer from Salbari.


Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi