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Books and blurbs: July

  • Published at 05:39 pm July 21st, 2018

A list of recommended fictions and nonfictions

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

Shanbhag’s rags to riches thriller is as precisely pitched as it is lucid. The story of a family’s ascent to wealth and power, it flawlessly shows, in a novella barely 70pgs, how working class protectiveness mutates in the presence of money. 

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

Saadawi’s ghoulish novel is a wartime spin on the classic Frankenstein, where an eccentric collects victims of the US invasion and stiches them together as one body only to have it disappear. At times surreal, it is a worthy testament to the Iraqi reality that is as comic as it is bitingly macabre.  

War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence by Ronan Farrow

Farrow’s book on American diplomacy, thoroughly researched and international in scope, is a richly drawn narrative that traces the decline of American influence, from Kissinger to Clinton, in the time of Trump

Feel Free by Zadie Smith

From Jay-Z to the books of J.G. Ballard, the booker nominated author’s second collection of essays sees her confront diverse topics as social media, Brexit and, among others, the Novel in first person with the same deftness she brings in her fiction. Concise and Incisive, “Feel Free” is outstanding literary journalism, where Smith comfortably surveys both the personal and the political.

Sick by Porochista Khakpour

Khakpour’s memoir, her deeply felt account of struggling through late-stage Lyme disease, is honest, emotional, and at times off-putting in the most beautiful way. It loses none of the urgent fervor of her previous, The Last Illusion yet shines on its own as a straightforward, no B.S. account of suffering.

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston

The Afro-American novelist’s recovered nonfiction finally sees the light of the day after almost a century. At the story’s center is Oluale Kossula, one of the last survivors of the Clotilda, the last vessel to carry kidnapped Africans into a life of bondage in the United States. Featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective, Barracoon brilliantly illuminates the tragedy of slavery and one life forever defined by it. 

When the Moon Shines By Day by Nayantara Sahgal

The India that Nayantara Sahgal sets her story in her latest work of fiction, with alarming familiarity, is the one her Indian readers live in the here and now — except it's descended into a worse dystopia. The trappings of anarchy are cemented ever more firmly: books are banned, paintings destroyed and people get killed on the suspicion of carrying a suitcase made of cowhide, presided over by the all-pervasive eye of the Director of Cultural Transformation. In this brilliant, dystopian satire, Sahgal draws a telling portrait of the most contemporary India.

Space Opera by Catherynne M Valente 

Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire winner’s most recent work of fiction imagines Eurovision in space, with high and deadly stakes, in this frenetic, imaginative intergalactic extravaganza set many years after the brutal Sentience Wars roiled the galaxy.

The Storm by Arif Anwar

Toronto based writer Arif Anwar’s debut novel is inspired by the 1970 Bhola Cyclone, in which half a million people perished overnight. The Storm seamlessly interweaves five love stories that, together, explore sixty years of Bangladeshi history. 

The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst

The 2004 Booker winner’s novel plays out across nearly a century of gay life in England. It begins in 1940 when David Sparsholt, an impossibly handsome young man bound for a military career, arrives at Oxford University. It takes readers through several generations and across key periods of uncertainty and change in British society.

Leila by Prayaag Akbar

Prayaag Akbar’s debut novel is a dystopian work that speaks directly to the ongoing changes in India’s politics and society. The inhabitants of urban India, browbeaten by economic recession and a scramble for essential resources like drinking water and clean air, begin to revert to a state of communal segregation. 

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Former US president Bill Clinton and bestselling novelist James Patterson have written a spellbinding thriller together. As the novel opens, a threat looms and soon Washington is plunged into chaos, with cyber-terror, espionage and a missing president. It reveals as many secrets about the U.S. government as “The Pink Panther” reveals about the French government.