Nilda by Nicholosa Mohr
First published in 1973, this groundbreaking book about the coming of age of a Puerto Rican girl in New York was recently re-released. Nilda, the protagonist suffers raids from racists cops, mean-spirited nuns and countless other adults who let her down. She rises above it all and could teach an adult a thing or two about remaining idealistic and principled.
5-The Bad Boy's Guide to the Good Indian Girl or the Good Indian Girl's Guide to Loving, Living and Having Fun
Annie Zaidi and Smriti Ravindra
Who is the �Good Indian Girl�? What does she look
like? How does she dress? Is she real � or is she
In this funny, wicked, touching, irreverent, poignant collection of stories, Annie Zaidi and Smriti Ravindra lift the veil (or sari pallu) on the lives and loves of girls who have been born or raised in the subcontinent.
The niceties have to be observed, but the urge to subvert is often overwhelming. As they shimmy down drainpipes at midnight, or steal covert glances at the boys across the street, the real life incidents from which these stories are
drawn will ring a bell with any woman who has negotiated the minefield of family love and romantic longing and desire that lies between childhood and womanhood.
The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud
Gaspereau Press, 2009
"A brief, subtly written story of a grown daughter's investigation into her father's Vietnam war memories..." The Guardian
Johanna Skibsrud’s debut novel connects the flooding of an Ontario town, the Vietnam War, a trailer in North Dakota and an unfinished boat in Maine. Parsing family history, worn childhood memories, and the palimpsest of old misunderstandings, Skibsrud’s narrator maps her father’s past.
Napoleon Haskell lives with Henry in the town of Casablanca, Ontario, on the shores of a man-made lake beneath which lie the remains of the former town. Henry is the father of Napoleon’s friend Owen, who died fighting in Vietnam. When her life comes apart, Napoleon’s daughter retreats to Casablanca and is soon immersed in the complicated family stories that lurk below the surface of everyday life. With its quiet mullings and lines from Bogart, The Sentimentalists captures a daughter’s wrestling with a heady family mythology.
The Way Things Look to Me
My name is Yasmin Murphy, and I don't remember very much about the morning that my mum died, which is odd, as normally I remember everything.
At 23, Asif is less than he wanted to be. His mother's sudden death forced him back home to look after his youngest sister, Yasmin, and he leads a frustrating life, ruled by her exacting need for routine. Everyone tells Asif that he's a good boy, but he isn't so sure.
Lila has escaped from home, abandoning Asif to be the sole carer of their difficult sister. Damaged by a childhood of uneven treatment, as Yasmin's needs always came first, she leads a wayward existence, drifting between jobs and men, obsessed with her looks and certain that her value is only skin deep.
And then there is Yasmin, who has no idea of the resentment she has caused. Who sees music in colour and remembers so much that sometimes her head hurts. Who doesn't feel happy, but who knows that she is special. Who has a devastating plan.
THE WAY THINGS LOOK TO ME is an affecting, comically tender portrayal of a family in crisis, caught between duty and love in a tangled relationship both bitter and bittersweet.
December / January 2011
The Last Pretence By Sarayu Srivatsa
Harper Collins India, Rs. 299.00
"Machilipatnam, a small town on the Coromandel coast in South India where the British first landed to trade in dyes, comes to life through a lively cast of characters - Ammamai, resigned to her widowhood, but a fighter; Saroja, the pseudo-intellectual who owns and runs the Victorian dyes factory; Kamala, the eunuch, who carries within her a painful past and Raman, the mosquito-scientist whose experiment with the malarial insect comes to be known as the Raman Technique. Then there is the ghost of Elizabeth Gibbs, the bored English woman who slept with her equally bored brother George and gave birth to a hermaphrodite. And Nayantara, who teaches Mallika all there is to know about love. But above all, this is Mallika and Siva’s story – a mother and son in a complex and deeply disturbing relationship."
PRAISE OF THE BOOK
• Longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2009
• The Last Pretence grapples with notions of love, gender and sexuality.
• Sarayu Srivatsa was the winner of the 2002 Picador-Outlook non-fiction award.
• Her book Out of God’s Oven, co-authored with Dom Moraes,was nominated for the Kiriyama Prize
Hygiene and the Assassin
Amélie Nothomb, Alison Anderson (translator)
Pub. date: November 2010
Size: 5¼ x 8¼
Prétextat Tach, Nobel laureate and one of the world’s most renowned contemporary novelists, has only two months to live. He has been living in seclusion for years, refusing interviews and public appearances. But as news of his impending death leaks, intrepid journalists from all over the world flock to his home in the hope of getting an interview with the elusive Tach. Five journalists finally gain entry, but one after the other they discover that, far from being the literary luminary they imagined, Tach has become an obese misogynist, a petulant bigot, an embittered, disgusting madman. The world’s most famous author turns out to be the worst misanthrope imaginable.
Nina, the fifth journalist to interview with Tach, will call his bluff and beat him at his own game. As Nina’s questions fly and the author’s biting responses arrive, Tach will be led to a final, definitive confrontation with the demons of his past.
Amélie Nothomb is one of Europe’s most successful and controversial authors. She wrote Hygiene and the Assassin, her first published novel, when she was only twenty-five. Winner of the Fournier and René Fallet prizes, it is now published in English for the first time.
Some Sing, Some Cry
Ntozake Shange & Ifa Bayeza
St. Martin's Press, September 2010
Award-winning writer Ntozake Shange and real-life sister, award-winning playwright Ifa Bayeza achieve nothing less than a modern classic in this epic story of the Mayfield family. Opening dramatically at Sweet Tamarind, a rice and cotton plantation on an island off South Carolina's coast, we watch as recently emancipated Bette Mayfield says her goodbyes before fleeing for the mainland. With her granddaughter, Eudora, in tow, she heads to Charleston. There, they carve out lives for themselves as fortune-teller and seamstress. Dora will marry, the Mayfield line will grow, and we will follow them on an journey through the watershed events of America's troubled, vibrant history—from Reconstruction to both World Wars, from the Harlem Renaissance to Vietnam and the modern day. Shange and Bayeza give us a monumental story of a family and of America, of songs and why we have to sing them, of home and of heartbreak, of the past and of the future, bright and blazing ahead.
by Mitali Perkins
Rs. 495 approx
Chiko isn’t a fighter by nature. He’s a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family's home and bamboo fields. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion as each boy is changed by unlikely friendships formed under extreme circumstances.
This coming-of-age novel takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Narrated by two fifteen-year-old boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma, Bamboo People explores the nature of violence, power, and prejudice.
Red Dust Road
by Jackie Kay
"Red Dust Road opens in the Nicon Hilton Hotel in Abuja. Jackie Kay is confronted by the man who is her natural father. He is a born-again Christian and self-styled faith healer who prays over her for two hours. He is disappointed by her failure to give herself to Christ, the condition required by him to acknowledge her publicly as his daughter. "I am sitting here," writes Kay, "evidence of his sinful past, but I am the sinner, the living embodiment of his sin." Kay resists. They do not meet again.
For the previous 40 years Kay's existence had been kept secret from the families of both her natural father and her birth mother. Kay was born in 1961 in Edinburgh to a Scottish nurse and a Nigerian student. Soon afterwards she was adopted. Red Dust Road is Kay's 20-year search for her birth parents and for her existence to be recognised. "
Read more here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jun/26/red-dust-road-jackie-kay
Modern Spice ( Indian food for today’s kitchen )
by Monica Bhide
Random House India
Guava Bellini. Lamb chops with a fennel and coriander crust. Masala pop corn. Crab tikkis. Chicken in mint and ginger. Tamarind margarita. Tomato and basil pulao. Spicy fig yoghurt. Pan-seared eggplant with ginger and honey. Curried carrot soup with paneer. Pista-mirch-dhaniya spread. Lychee phirnis. Achari chicken salad. Mango and champagne granita.
Modern Spice teaches you how to cook Indian food for today’s kitchen, giving you recipes that are quick to make, short on ingredients, and full of global influences. Try an Indian inspired cocktail; soups and salads using masalas; Indian-style stir fries, and fantastic spice combinations for meat dishes. Whether it’s for a quick meal or a stylish party, here are recipes bursting with flavour and originality. Full of passion and mouthwatering ideas, Modern Spice is the most fun you’ll ever have in your kitchen.
How to Salsa in a Sari
By: Dona Sarkar
Issa Mazumder, a nerdy half Indian, half African teenage girl who lives in the US with her single mother, has just been utterly destroyed because the gorgeous Cat Morena, Latina princess, Issa's worst enemy and the most popular girl in school, has stolen Issa's equally nerdy boyfriend Adam. And there's worse to come – Issa's mother announces that she and Cat's father are getting married. And they are moving into Cat's huge mansion.
Cat has no respect for Issa's traditions and makes Issa's life hell. But Issa gets some tough advice: if she wants Cat Morena to welcome her traditions, Issa had better learn to salsa in a sari!
MY NAME IS GAUHAR JAAN!: The Life and Times of a Musician
by Vikram Sampath
Rupa Books, Jan 2010
My Name is Gauhar Jaan!’: The Life and Times of a Musician tries to demystify the myth and mystery around one of the most enigmatic legends in Indian music history – Gauhar Jaan. Vikram Sampath, in this remarkable book, brings forth little known details of this fascinating woman who was known for her melodious voice, her multi-lingual skills, poetic sensibility, irresistible personality and her extravagant lifestyle. From her early days in Azamgarh and Banaras to the glory years in Calcutta when Gauhar ruled the world of Indian music, to her sad fall from grace and end in Mysore, the book takes the reader through the roller-coaster ride of this feisty musician. In the process, the author presents a view of the socio-historical context of Indian music and theatre during that period.
Witness the Night
By: Kishwar Desai
Cover Price: Rs. 250.00
Extent: 256 pages
On Sale: January 2010
Durga. A fourteen-year-old girl, found all alone in a sprawling farm house tucked away in a corner of Punjab. Silent, terrified, and the sole suspect in the mass murder of thirteen members of her family. Simran. Whisky-swigging, chain-smoking unmarried social worker from Delhi. She is Durga’s only hope, for Simran is the only one who believes that Durga may be more a victim than a suspect. As Simran tries to explore every corner of Jullundar and its people, from the enigmatic tutor Harpreet and his disfigured wife to the pictureperfect high-society Arminder and her superintendent husband Ramnath, she delves deeper and deeper into a cruel world where even the ties of family are meaningless. It isn’t long before she realizes that nothing is quite as it seems.
Eating Women, Telling Tales
120 pp Pbk
A young woman, neglected by her rakish husband, decides to 'kill him with kindess' and stuff him with food, another cooks manically, a third helps herself to money and small knick-knacks from her husband's pockets where she finds the different scents of each of the women he has been with... Along with the husband is the ubiquitous mother-in-law who moves into the mewly-married couple's bedroom barely a month after they have set up home.
Each vignette is, by turns, funny, poignant, macabre - a delicious spread, showcasing Bulbul Sharma's mastery of the stories small actors and the drama of daily life.
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (April 30, 2009)
In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners – mother, son and daughter – are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own.
But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.
Prepare yourself. From this wonderful writer who continues to astonish us, now comes a chilling ghost story.
Love Will Follow: Why the Indian Marriage is Burning by Shaifali Sandhya
Random House India, 2009
Rs 266, 320pp
"The Indian marriage is burning. In this groundbreaking study—the first clinical and cultural portrait of its kind—Shaifali Sandhya explores the intimate lives of middle class Indian husbands and wives living in India and abroad and looks at what is causing this breakdown. Interviewing countless couples, using current research, and looking deeply at the key areas in relationships which cause conflict—sex, money, family—she draws a devastating picture of the modern Indian marriage."
Outlook Magazine - http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?263165
Tehelka - http://www.tehelka.com/story_main43.asp?filename=hub311009the_rearranged.asp
Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith
320pp, Hamish Hamilton, £20.00
"Zadie Smith brings to her essays all of the curiosity, intellectual rigor, and sharp humor that have attracted so many readers to her fiction, and the result is a collection that is nothing short of extraordinary.
Split into four sections-"Reading," "Being," "Seeing," and "Feeling"-Changing My Mind invites readers to witness the world from Zadie Smith's unique vantage. Smith casts her acute eye over material both personal and cultural, with wonderfully engaging essays-some published here for the first time-on diverse topics including literature, movies, going to the Oscars, British comedy, family, feminism, Obama, Katharine Hepburn, and Anna Magnani.
In her investigations Smith also reveals much of herself. Her literary criticism shares the wealth of her experiences as a reader and exposes the tremendous influence diverse writers-E. M. Forster, Zora Neale Hurston, George Eliot, and others-have had on her writing life and her self-understanding. Smith also speaks directly to writers as a craftsman, offering precious practical lessons on process. Here and throughout, readers will learn of the wide-ranging experiences-in novels, travel, philosophy, politics, and beyond-that have nourished Smith's rich life of the mind. Her probing analysis offers tremendous food for thought, encouraging readers to attend to the slippery questions of identity, art, love, and vocation that so often go neglected.
Changing My Mind announces Zadie Smith as one of our most important contemporary essayists, a writer with the rare ability to turn the world on its side with both fact and fiction. Changing My Mind is a gift to readers, writers, and all who want to look at life more expansively."
- The Guardian - http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/nov/15/changing-my-mind-zadie-smith-review
- The Village Voice - http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/nov/15/changing-my-mind-zadie-smith-review
- The LA Times - http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-zadie-smith15-2009nov15,0,279531.story
- Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2009: One of Zadie Smith's great gifts as a novelist is her openness: both to character and ideas in her stories, and to what a novel itself should be. That she's a novelist was clear as soon she broke through with White Teeth in her early twenties, but what kind she'll be (or will be next) seems open to change. Which all, along with her consistent intelligence, grace, and wit, makes her an ideal essayist too, especially for the sort of "occasional essays" collected for the first time in Changing My Mind. She can make the case equally for the cozy "middle way" of E.M. Forster and the most purposefully demanding of David Foster Wallace's stories, both as a reader and, you imagine, as a writer who is considering their methods for her own. The occasions in this book didn't only bring her to write about writers, though: she also investigates, among other subjects, Katherine Hepburn, Liberia, and Barack Obama (through the lens of Pygmalion), and, in the collection's finest piece, recalls her late father and their shared comedy snobbery. One wishes more occasions upon her. --Tom Nissley
Like a Diamond in the Sky
By Shazia Omar
At twenty-one, Deen is dismayed by the poverty around him and trapped in negativity. Alienated from family and society, heroin is his drug of choice.
Deen and his partner in crime, AJ, ride high on acid and amphetamines, philosophize in the university canteen, party in a politician’s posh pad and contemplate God at a roadside tea stall. From Maria, a chemically imbalanced diva, to a rickshaw-walla who reflects on the importance of positive energy, to a group of fakirs who sing about love, and a detective who has his own take on addiction, the characters in Shazia Omar’s debut novel crackle with life.
They represent the despair, hopes and aspirations of a generation struggling to survive in the harsh realities of life in modern Dhaka. Hard-hitting and intensely moving, this is an extraordinary novel, and one that is destined to launch Omar as a major contemporary voice from South Asia.
"Shazia Omar's energetic debut novel heralds a new voice in Bangaldeshi fiction. Located in the urban chaos of Dhaka city, Like a Diamond in the Sky shines a light on the crime, drug addiction, love, and loneliness at the heart of the modern metropolis."- TAHMIMA ANAM, author of A Golden Age
Muhammad Husain Jah
Tn Musharraf Ali Farooqi
488pp; Rs 495
From Tehelka: "SELDOM DOES a book these days recommend itself to storytelling. Still rarer is an opportunity to irrevocably entangle oneself in the folds of a relationship that begins with the call, “tell me a story.” If one follows Walter Benjamin’s argument in the essay The Storyteller, a story is inextricably linked to marvellous and miraculous happenings; its shape is not brick-like, nor informational but a filigree of narrative retellings. Muhammad Husain Jah’s Tilism-e Hoshruba teems with objects like magic birds that burn up after announcing the arrival of a trickster and princesses who maim and murder – but only after surrounding their enemies with beds of tulips and roses. It even showcases every bibliophile’s dream, The Book of Sameri, which contains an account of every event in the world." Read More...
If It Is Sweet
Westland/Tranquebar, May 2009
"The best stories are those that are born of the lives of the working class people on the streets, says former professional trade union worker-turned short story writer Mridula Koshy.
The 40-year-old writer's maiden anthology of short stories, If It is Sweet, was released in the Capital on Wednesday.
Published by one of the youngest publishing houses in the country, the Westland/Tranquebar Press, the book "travels through the streets of Delhi picking on odd lives and the disavowed dramas that play themselves out on the stretch of the crowded BRT and in the adjoining residential neighbourhoods like Defence Colony, M-Block Market (of Greater Kailash I), Chirag Delhi flyover and Humayun's Tomb", the writer says." Read More...
by Marilynne Robinson 336pp, Virago, £16.99
Extract: What a strange old book [the Bible] it was. How oddly holiness situated itself among the things of the world, how endlessly creation wrenched and strained under the burden of its own significance. "I will open my mouth in a parable. I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us." Yes, there it was, the parable of manna. All bread is the bread of heaven, her father used to say. It expresses the will of God to sustain us in this flesh, in this life. Weary or bitter or bewildered as we may be, God is faithful. He lets us wander so we will know what it means to come home.
Review: "Early in Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead,” one of the few recent American novels that have found and deserved both critical praise and readerly love, the narrator, the Rev. John Ames, admits that he has a tendency “to overuse the word ‘old.’ ” This habit, he muses, “has less to do with age . . . than it does with familiarity. It sets a thing apart as something regarded with a modest, habitual affection. Sometimes it suggests haplessness or vulnerability. I say ‘old Boughton,’ I say ‘this shabby old town,’ and I mean that they are very near my heart.”" Read More from the NY Times...
Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown
by Jennifer Scanlon, OUP
"Helen Gurley Brown's transformation from mousy secretary to glamorous queen of the glossy magazine makes for a gripping tale, says Carole Cadwalladr...
Just reading about Helen Gurley Brown's daily regimen of steely self-discipline and relentless determination is exhausting. At the age of 87 she still goes into work (she's the international editor of Cosmopolitan) and exercises for 90 minutes a day, as she has done every day, bar two, for the past 20 years (including that of her mother's funeral). And in the event that she accidentally eats more than 1,800 calories in a day, she'll fast for 36 hours." From the Guardian.
The Writing on My Foerehead: A novel
By Nafisa Haji
Publisher: William Morrow
Haji traces in her impressive debut the fortunes of a family divided by secrets and lies as much as by the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent. Saira Qader, an American teenager of Indo-Pakistani descent, lives a sheltered life in California with her older sister, Ameena, and their overprotective and fiercely traditional parents. Saira's view of her family changes dramatically when she attends a wedding in Karachi and learns that her mother had lied to her about Saira's grandfather: he is not dead but living in London with a second family. As she learns more about her grandfather's work with Gandhi and the independence movement, Saira dreams of going to college instead of marrying early like her sister, and later carves out a life as a war journalist. But an unforeseen tragedy makes her choose between her peripatetic existence and the more traditional (and perhaps more desirable) setup awaiting her at home. Haji achieves an effortless commingling of family and social history in this intricate story that connects a young woman and her family over continents and through generations." From Publishers Weekly
by Anita Brookner
Fig Tree, 2009
"When Paul Sturgis lies down at night in the hope of sleep, he walks back in memory to his childhood house. He peers at his mother's dressing table, and grows nostalgic over what he lacks in his present life: "a hallway with a proper hallstand". Seventy-two when the book begins, Paul is a retired banker. He is comfortably off, like most of Brookner's characters; necessity doesn't coerce them, so if they make shoddy moral choices they have nothing external to blame." Read more...
Amélie Nothomb, Alison Anderson (translator)
Pub Date: Feb 2009
"“Why must pleasure always have a price? And why must one always pay for sensual delight with the loss of original lightness?”
Amélie is a young language teacher living in Tokyo. When she succumbs to the attentions of her one and only student—the shy, wealthy, and oh-so-Japanese Rinri—the lovers-to-be find themselves swept along by an affair that is as unusual as it is tender. This is a new kind of love story that pits a woman’s desire for companionship against her strong sense of individual identity. In its exploration of contemporary themes—the confidence of independence, the possibility of love as a form of limitation—Tokyo Fiancée foregoes conventions to create a compelling image of love for the contemporary woman, an anti-Prince-Charming story that is an antidote to traditional romantic fables.
The author brings humor, intelligence, and a refreshing honesty to this highly autobiographical work. Her storytelling appeals to those who feel that their own immediate and personal sense of love is seldom adequately represented in popular fiction. This splendid novel offers readers a quietly revolutionary vision of romantic love."
From the Guardian
A Private Experience
Two women caught up in a violent street riot take shelter in an abandoned shop. A short story by the Orange Prize-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"Chika climbs in through the store window first and then holds the shutter as the woman climbs in after her. The store looks as if it was deserted long before the riots started; the empty rows of wooden shelves are covered in yellow dust, as are the metal containers stacked in a corner. The store is small, smaller than Chika's walk-in closet back home. The woman climbs in and the window shutters squeak as Chika lets go of them. Chika's hands are trembling, her calves burning after the unsteady run from the market in her high-heeled sandals. She wants to thank the woman, for stopping her as she dashed past, for saying "No run that way!" and for leading her, instead, to this empty store where they could hide. But before she can say thank you, the woman says, reaching out to touch her bare neck, "My necklace lost when I'm running."" Read More...
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
By Marina Lewycka
Rachel Aviv, the Village Voice, says of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, "The author of six books about caring for the elderly, Marina Lewycka brings a rare elegance to her description of 80-year-olds. The geriatric hero of her first novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, is enchantingly annoying—spacey, ornery, and completely unrealistic about his sexual prowess. Like many men with failing hearing, vision, and bladder control, he happens upon a "Big Idea," marrying a 36-year-old blonde from Ukraine (in need of an English visa) and horrifying his middle-aged daughters. They spend most of the novel tittering about their dad—like most sibling gossip-fests, the conversations never lack in humor.
The wife's "superior breasts" quickly become the focus ("Man like tits. You papa like tits"), reducing the daughters to idly stealing her bras. Formerly "leftish," the youngest sister, when tested, adopts a newfangled old-world snootiness, learning how to deport an immigrant and then writing letters of complaint to the British Home Office. Like a reverse tale of colonization, booby-wife accumulates all the necessary Western loot (Hoover vacuum, Rolls -Royce, even bigger breasts) while the sisters watch in a state of ideological crisis. Their family problems become a cheery parody of the country's political dysfunctions."
Almost Single by Advaita Kala
Harper Collins India
Heralded as the Indian chick-lit novel, Almost Single by Advaita Kala has garnered a loyal following since its early 2007 release. Kala tells the story of Aisha, a single 29-year-old woman living and working in the hotel industry in Delhi, and her search for the perfect husband. Thrown into the mix are an archetypal, overpowering Indian mother, friends who pathetically throw themselves at divorcees, the quintessential NRI banker, who happens to be Aisha's love interest.
Although well-written, this book reinforces every chick-lit cliché as well as the most antiquated stereotypes of women: that a woman’s main goal in life should be to find a man. And not just any man - a rich, good-looking, designer-clothes-wearing, Mercedes-driving hunk. Aisha’s idea of a marriageable man smells an awful lot like an asshole to me.
But most worrying is the dearth of sex, sensuality and sexuality from Almost Single. According to the book, all upper-middle class, single, young women in Delhi are virgins sporting chastity belts under their Versace jeans. I think not; I know not. Instead we have to suffer the trials and tribulations of practising karva chauth and dating someone who, shock horror, takes us home in a taxi. (What? No Mercedes from Daddy?)
Yes, yes, we know – chick lit is supposed to be light and easy to digest but perpetuating the idea that the world is a hetero-normative space occupied by man-hungry virgins is hard to swallow.
Have you read it? Let us know what you think! Write into firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post your comments below.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Set during the ardent Biafran-Nigerian independence struggle in the late 1960s, Half of Yellow Sun tells the story of Olanna, a soul-searching young woman, Richard, a shy Englishman and Ugwu, a thirteen-year old houseboy as they battle to stay alive and close to their loved ones during this blood-soaked, three year-war that left 3 million dead.
Heralded as the “21st century daughter of Chinua Achebe”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a natural storyteller. Her vivid descriptions and enlightened insights on human relationships - white and black, coloniser and colonised, rich and poor, male and female - are reflected throughout the book and paint an unforgettable portrayal of a momentous point in Africa’s history.
Read an interview with the author here or click here for one of many glowing reviews on Half of a Yellow Sun.
Recent recipient of the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction 2008 and our recommended reading this month, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale is “a dramatic page-turning detective yarn of a real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction. Kate Summerscale has brilliantly merged scrupulous archival research with vivid storytelling that reads with the pace of a Victorian thriller.
The book is a rare work of non-fiction that mimics suspense genre and leaves one gripped until the final paragraph. Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard, who became the most celebrated detective of his day, is a complex, shabby character who immediately conjures up images of the scruffy looking LA cop, Columbo and even of Rebus. The Road Hill murder case was to dominate newspaper headlines and caused national hysteria, and inspired a generation of novelists from Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to Conan Doyle.”
By Curtis Stittenfeld
The protagonist of this novel from Curtis Stittenfeld, Lee Fiora, is a shy, angst-ridden, thoughtful teenager. We follow her years at a posh boarding school in New England where she battles with sexuality, relationships, friendships, identity and class. Stittenfeld doesn’t revert to crass stereotypes to make Lee relatable, like so many other authors who write about teenagers. Instead she draws the reader into Lee’s very private, angst-ridden, insecure world, wrought with issues that everyone, not just teenagers, can connect with. The result is a breathtaking novel that is both honest and compelling.
By Jhumpa Lahiri
Unless you were on Mars the last couple of months, you will have noticed the sensational buzz around Jhumpa Lahiri's latest offering, a collection of short stories entitled Unaccustomed Earth.
Proving that fame doesn't always crush the writer, Lahiri delivers a tight, well-crafted collection of short stories that read even better than the Interpreter of Maladies, her first book.
Fear of Flying
By Erica Jong
"Show me a woman who doesn't feel guilty and I'll show you a man," says Isadora, the protagonist of Erica Jong’s groundbreaking novel Fear of Flying originally published in 1973. The brazen novel follows Isadora, a 29-year-old Jewish, unhappily married woman as she wanders across three continents on an existential odyssey that is ripe with sexual and emotional revelations.
Still considered one of the most pioneering books of the 70s and a feminist classic, Fear of Flying is a gripping, no-holds-barred look at a woman’s sexuality. Essential reading for anyone with a vagina (and even for those without one).
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
By Yiyun Li
Rs 295 approx
"The first time Yiyun Li saw a group of prisoners on their way to execution was when she was five. There were three men and a woman, their hands bound with ropes, and they shuffled on to a makeshift stages in a field in suburban Beijing. An officer raised his fist, shouting: "Death to the counter-revolutionary hooligans!" And the five-year-old Li was happy to see them go, because a world free of hooligans, of those who would even dare to harm China's socialist paradise, was clearly a better place." writes David Robison of Li in the Scotsman in early 2006.
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is an honest, sweeping collection of short stories, each revealing an otherwise-hidden China. Winner of the Guardian First Book Award in 2006, this book is easy to read. Li is insightful and sensitive to her characters, never faltering to stereotypes or gimmicks to portray a country on the brink of great change. A collection to be savoured with each story begging to be read again and again.
By Amruta Patil
Harper Collins India
This debut graphic novel from Amruta Patil is a beautifully-drawn, hauntingly-told story of a young woman in Mumbai named Kari. At the heart of this book lies Kari's sexuality and the confusion, heartache and beauty that accompanies it. More than anything else, Kari is an acute potrait of depression and loneliness. Patil's prose and imagery captures the intensity of feeling alienated and isolated every minute of every day.
"It's not that I have a bad relationship with the mirror. On the contrary, i think mirrors are splendid, shiny things that make great collectibles, whether whole or in smashed bits. Problem is, I just don't know what they are trying to tell me. These things can be troubling. The girls are outside the door telling me to wear kohl, and here I am wondering why I amn't looking like Sean Penn today."
To hell with you Mitro
By Krishna Sobti
Translated by Gita Rajan and Raji Narasimhan
“Good language is not just… knowing that a word exists. You cannot even establish a word or install it unless you are aware of its shape, colour, as also the country of its origin and use. An exhibition of words, without an avowed intent or aesthetic sense, is meaningless." Krishna Sobti
This brazen, candid tale of a woman's sexuality was first published in Hindi in 1966 and, not surprisingly, ruffled some feathers among the writing elite. The English translation released in 2007 successfully captures much of Sobti's magic and finally makes this unapologetic novel accessible to English-language readers.
Neither Night Nor Day
13 short stories by women writers from Pakistan
Edited by Rakhshanda Jalil
These thirteen stories aim to capture the everyday, mundane details of life for Pakistani women. The editor states in her introduction, "I must confess I chose Ordinariness as my anthem, for I believe that by celebrating ordinariness we celebrate life as it is lived by scores of real people."
From Partition to the streets of London, the stories are unique and beautifully told by "young and relatively less known writers. Hopefully, readers will find it refreshing not to come across the usual names that are most anthologized and therefore, erroneously, taken as being representative" Jalil writes.
Namita Devidayal's The Music Room (Random House)
This impressive memoir from first-time author Devidayal follows her relationship with Dhondutai, her guru and mentor as she trains her in the Jaipur gharana.
Bina Shah Blessings
Srividya Natarajan no onions nor garlic
Anita Rau Badami Can you hear the Nightbird Call?