Books of the week: From Leesa Gazi's Hellfire to Pallavi Aiyar’s A Thousand Cranes for India, our picks

Our weekly roundup of books that should be on your radar.

Aarushi Agrawal September 27, 2020 15:21:45 IST
Books of the week: From Leesa Gazi's Hellfire to Pallavi Aiyar’s A Thousand Cranes for India, our picks

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. Every Sunday, we'll have a succinct pick of books, across diverse genres, that have been newly 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.

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– FICTION

Hellfire
By Leesa Gazi; translated by Shabnam Nadiya
Westland Publications | Rs 399 | 204 pages

Translated by Shabnam Nadiya, the British-Bangladeshi writer and filmmaker Leesa Gazi’s Bengali debut follows sisters Lovely and Beauty, for whom home is a cage, where their mother Farida Khanam never lets them out of her sight. On her 40th birthday, Lovely embarks on her first solo trip to Gausia Market, in Dhaka. As she roams the streets, her mother’s carefully constructed world begins to fall apart, and their household arrangement starts to assume a macabre quality.

Piranesi
By Susanna Clarke
Bloomsbury | Rs 699 | 272 pages

Author Susanna Clarke’s novel follows Piranesi, who has lived in the House for as long as he can remember. Each day, he records in notebooks the House’s endless halls, statues, walls; speaks to birds; and brings tributes to the House’s Dead. One day, messages begin to appear in pebbles, as someone tries to communicate with him. And in his journal, another story is unfolding, written in his own hand but which he cannot remember writing.

Read more about the book here.

Delhi: A Soliloquy
By M. Mukundan; translated by Fathima EV and Nandakumar K
Westland Publications | Rs 799 | 533 pages

Translated from Malayalam by award-winning writer and translator Fathima EV and Nandakumar K, award-winning author M Mukundan’s novel has been hailed as a contemporary classic. It examines the Malayali migrant experience in Delhi since Independence, from the 1960s when the Malayali community was just beginning to lay down roots, through the Indo-China and Indo-Pak wars, the Emergency, and the 1984 riots.

The Wall
By Gautam Bhatia
HarperCollins India | Rs 399 | 420 pages

Constitutional law expert Gautam Bhatia’s novel follows Mithila, whose world is bound by a Wall that encloses the city Sumer. Life has been this way for 2,000 years. When she tries to cross the Wall, everyone comes together to stop her. To break rules is to risk civilisational collapse. But to follow them means never knowing who built the Wall and why, and what lies beyond. As she looks for answers, she risks losing family, loved ones, and her life.

Read more about the book here.

– MEMOIRS and BIOGRAPHIES

Why I Am Not A Hindu Woman: A Personal Story
By Wandana Sonalkar
Women Unlimited | Rs 350 | TBC pages

Feminist scholar and activist Wandana Sonalkar outlines why she, born as an upper caste woman in Maharashtra, has rejected her religious identity. In a critique of Hindutva and Hinduism, she offers an intimate account of caste practices, and argues that patriarchy and Brahmanism – misogyny and casteism – are integral to the practice of Hinduism; and to Hindutva, which extends this discrimination to Muslims.

Read more about the book here.

– NON-FICTION

Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion in the Indian Workplace
By Parmesh Shahani
Westland Publications | Rs 699 | 320 pages

In this book, Godrej India Culture Lab founder Parmesh Shahani makes a case for LGBTQ inclusion in the corporate world and lays down a step-by-step guide to reshape India’s office culture. In this part-memoir part-manifesto, he animates data and strategy with intimate stories. Above all, he highlights the importance of diversity and inclusion, and how in these concepts are the promise of an equitable future.

A Thousand Cranes for India: Reclaiming Plurality amid Hatred
Edited by Pallavi Aiyar
Seagull Books | Rs 499 | 176 pages

Edited by author and journalist Pallavi Aiyar, this anthology uses the metaphor of origami cranes to talk about connection, beauty, and reclamation, in an otherwise degrading country. The 23 pieces here range reportage, stories, poems, memoir, and more. Among the contributors are Tishani Doshi, Anjum Hasan, Samrat Choudhury, Annie Zaidi, Jonathan Gil Harris, Sumana Roy, and more.

Read more about the book here.

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