Books of the week: From Benyamin's Al Arabian Novel Factory to The Family Table, FirstCulture's picks of 2019
FirstCulture picks: Our choice of 2019 books that should be on your radar.
We love stories and there is nothing like a good book that promises a couple of hours of absorption.
As the year comes to an end, we have a succinct pick of books, across diverse genres, that have been made available for your reading pleasure
We love stories, and even in the age of Netflix-and-chill, there's nothing like a good book that promises a couple of hours of absorption — whether curled up in bed, in your favourite coffeehouse, or that long (and tiresome) commute to work. As the year comes to an end, we have a succinct pick of books, across diverse genres, that have been made available for your reading pleasure. Get them wherever you get your books — the friendly neighbourhood bookseller, e-retail website, chain store — and in whatever form you prefer. Happy reading!
For more of our weekly book recommendations, click here.
By Amitav Ghosh
Penguin Random House India | Rs 699 | 288 pages
Sahitya Akademi Award winner Amitav Ghosh’s Gun Island follows rare book dealer Deen Dutta, whose shifting beliefs force him out on a journey from India to Los Angeles and Venice, which challenges everything he knows about himself. Along the way, he meets Piya, a fellow Bengali-American; Tipu, who exposes Deen to the realities of growing up in today’s world; Rafi, who is desperately trying to help someone in need; and Cinta, an old friend. His journey is one of an increasingly displaced world, and the hope and faith of one man in the future.
Al Arabian Novel Factory
By Benyamin; translated by Shahnaz Habib
Juggernaut Books | Rs 599 | 376 pages
The sequel to Malayalam writer Benyamin’s award-winning Jasmine Days, Al Arabian Novel Factory is a literary thriller, and a recognition of the power of books in the face of state repression. It follows Pratap who has left a stable family life in Toronto for an unknown middle-Eastern city, in search of Jasmine, the lost love of his youth. There, he discovers the manuscript of a secret novel, A Spring Without Fragrance, that tells of an Arab Spring and its failure. But the book is dangerous, and anyone who reads it disappears.
Girl, Woman, Other
By Bernardine Evaristo
Penguin Random House | Rs 799 | 464 pages
Recipient of the Booker Prize 2019, author Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, follows the lives and challenges of twelve characters, most women, black, and British, talking of their families, friends, and lovers. From Cornwall to Newcastle, the books spans across Britain and through time, from the births of the 20th-century to 21st-century teens. It follows the cast as each looks for something, from a shared past to an unexpected future and from a place to call home and fit in to a lover or lost relative.
The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali
By Uzma Aslam Khan
Context | Rs 350 | 357 pages
Novelist Uzma Aslam Khan’s latest book The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali brings into focus the stories of the powerless people, often lost and silenced in history. On the one hand are Nomi and Zee, local borns on the inhospitable Andaman Islands to which their parents were condemned. In the unreliable world, the kids have their friend Aye, pet hen Priya, and their distracted parents. On the other hand, within the walls of the prison is Prison 218 D, rebelling against her jailers through just her body and her memory. This unstable dynamic quickly starts to change as the British are forced out and the Japanese take over.
Read an excerpt from the book and interview with the author here.
– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES
By Mira Jacob
Bloomsbury | Rs 599 | 368 pages
Writer Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir Good Talk documents her life as she navigates race and identity through present-day America. She talks of the stories and experiences that have shaped her, from being a brown-skinned New Yorker on 9/11 to challenging exchanges with her Trump-supporting in-laws, and from the uncomfortable relationship she shares with her parents to the questions her six-year-old son Zakir asks her, including ‘Does Donald Trump hate Muslims? Is that how people really walk on the moon? Is it bad to be brown? Are white people afraid of brown people?’
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
By David Wallace-Wells
Penguin Random House | Rs 799 | 320 pages
Journalist and editor David Wallace-Wells best-selling book The Uninhabitable Earth about global warming and climate change, is a travelogue of the near future, exploring what it might look like; how the climate emergency will transform global politics, reshape the nature of the modern world, and question the meaning of technology and sustainability of capitalism. He explains how the effects of global warming go beyond sea-level rise, to food shortages, refugee emergencies, and climate wars. The book is also a call to action, with responsibility for avoiding catastrophe now belonging to the present generation.
Read more about the book here.
Antoni in the Kitchen
By Antoni Porowski
Pan Macmillan | Rs 1,900 | 272 pages
Food and wine guru of the Netflix show Queer Eye, Antoni Porowski’s book inspires new and seasoned cooks alike to get back into the kitchen with this cookbook. He explains to cooks the tricks to be more confident and casual in the kitchen. His recipes are healthy, entertaining, visually appealing, and often composed of no more than five ingredients. From his Bastardised Easy Ramen to Malaysian Chili Shrimp and from his Roasted Carrots with Carrot-Top Pesto to Salty Lemon Squares, these are recipes that can easily be followed through, even by beginners.
Read more about the book here.
The Family Table
Edited by Aysha Tanya
Qitaab | Rs 950 | 96 pages
Food writer and photographer Aysha Tanya’s debut cookbook The Family Table is a collection of 47 heirloom recipes from the Arinhal Karuvantevalappil family archive. The Malabar region of north Kerala has a diverse cuisine, with rich local produce and seafood, and the recipes in the book range from sweet to savoury and include both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. For ease of use, the book is divided into three sections: breakfast, lunch and dinner, and desserts and snacks.
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Read an excerpt from Arjun Raj Gaind's The Anatomy of Scars, based on the aftermath of Operation Blue Star
Amidst mounting conflict, when the protagonist of Gaind's narrative, a young boy named Himmat, visits his grandparents in Amritsar he becomes witness not only to the acts of dissidents fighting for a free Khalistan but also the violence brought on in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's death.
How to Wash a Heart explores the relationship between an immigrant guest and a citizen host.
Mehta was long praised by critics for his forthright, luminous prose — with its “informal elegance, diamond clarity and hypnotic power”.