Recommended fiction and nonfiction titles
My Mother's Lover and Other Stories by Sumana Roy (Bloomsbury India)
My Mother's Lover and Other Stories is a collection of fourteen stories about people who suffer from curious ailments, including of a poet whose writing is seen to be an ailment by her family, an insomniac's experience with sleep therapy, a woman's obsession with getting rid of plastic, a woman in Darjeeling desperate for a drop of water, a student fixated on reading a love poem as the failed relationship of her parents, and a young couple trapped in a student's hostel during the 1971 war.
Plassey: The Battle that Changed the Course of Indian History by Sudeep Chakravarti (Aleph Book Company)
The Battle of Plassey, fought on 23 June 1757, changed the course of Indian history forever. Using multilingual sources and a multidisciplinary approach, Sudeep Chakravarti answers all the questions related to the battle and a myriad others with great insight and nuance. Impeccably researched and brilliantly told, Plassey is the best account yet of one of the turning points in Indian history.
Low by Jeet Thayil (Faber & Faber)
When Ullis discovers that his wife Aki has committed suicide, he escapes to Bombay with a bag of drugs for one final party. On the plane, he finds himself sitting by a glamorous society lady called Payal, and a friendship of sorts blooms into life. Over the coming days they embark on a whirlwind of self-destructive misadventures as Ullis attempts to mask his grief through excessive narcotics, resulting in episodes of increasing dysfunctionality that flirt with total self-obliteration - and perhaps a kind of resolution.
Manto and I by Nandita Das (Aleph)
“In this book, I have chosen to share not just my creative, but also my emotional, political, and spiritual experiences of the six years I spent with Manto,” says Das. If you’ve watched the film, this book will serve as a companion, as it candidly cuts into the behind-the-scenes moments and the making-of the story on screen.
The Death of Jesus by JM Coetzee (Harvill Secker)
In 2020, his 80th birth year, the Nobel Laureate and double Booker winner closes his trilogy—following on from the much-loved The Childhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus—and continues along the path of “exploring the meaning of a world empty of memory but brimming with questions”. We’ll be re-reading Childhood and Schooldays in anticipation of its arrival.
Jaipur Journals by Namita Gokhale (Penguin Random House India)
Part love letter to the “greatest literary festival on earth”, part satire about the glittery attendees who go year after year, and part ode to the many up-and-coming writers, Gokhale’s next book stages and makes space for “the pretensions and the pathos of the loneliest tribe of them all: the writers”. If you’re attending JLF 2020, we recommend you bring along a copy in your bag.
Chats with the Dead by Shehan Karunatilaka (Penguin Random House India)
From the Commonwealth Book Prize and DSC Prize-winning writer of Chinaman—whose 10th anniversary edition will accompany this publication—comes a classic whodunit with a cutting twist. Featuring war photographer Maali Almeida who is given the task of solving his own murder, this is a “dark comedy of life, death and everything in between”, set after the Sri Lankan civil war.
The Lion of Kashmir by Siddhartha Gigoo (Rupa)
Commandant Abdul Aziz, Special Forces, Kashmir is a legendary police officer in the valley, albeit not always for good reasons. And then one day he disappears. His daughter, Zooni, a human rights activist has to return home for her missing father. Bizarre events unfold in the ensuing night at a safe house where she’s forced to stay and where she comes face-to-face with the most disturbing truth of her life, and of the lives of her father and half-brother.
A Small Revolution in Germany by Philip Hensher (Fourth Estate)
Everyone remembers what it’s like to be seventeen. The conversations you have; the ideas that burst on you; the kiss that transforms you. And then you grow up, and make a deal with adulthood. A Small Revolution in Germany is about that rapturous moment when ideas, and ideals, and passion crash over one boy’s head. And what happens in the decades afterwards? When you see the overwhelming truth when you are seventeen, why should you ever abandon that truth?