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Wouldn’t you like to know what your favourite women authors have read recently? 9 of these authors recommend their best read in 2018.
Andaleeb’s books have the fragrance of wonderful food – they are either structured around food, or have yummy food references in them that make you salivate. Not surprising, given that she is also a great cook and started writing as a food blogger. One book by Andaleeb Wajid that I would pick is More Than Just Biryani.
What Andaleeb Wajid has to say about Mothering a Muslim by Nazia Erum:
It’s an important book for everyone to read. Those who don’t realise the divisiveness that is prevalent today, and those who are firmly being ignorant and holding on to their belief that everything is fine. Nothing is fine and this is one aspect of that state that Nazia is showing to the world.
Funny, irreverent, sharp-witted prose, and bang-on observations with excellent awareness of the personal and political, Sowmya’s books are both a delight to read and make you think. My pick from her books is The Lesson.
What Sowmya Rajendran has to say about Ants among Elephants by Sujata Gidla:
I cannot vouch for its historical authenticity and I’m aware that people have raised issues with it. But as a personal narrative, I found the book to be an empathetic and moving account of a Dalit family in undivided Andhra. I enjoyed the humour in the book, the sharp portraits she draws of family, friends and the political class.
As a writer of historical fiction, in-depth research into the living conditions of the time period her story is set in is Nandini Sen Gupta’s strength, I think – giving us the perfect mix of fact and fiction, in engaging prose that keeps us turning the pages. I’d recommend her first work of fiction, The King Within, certainly.
What Nandini Sen Gupta has to say about Kathputli by Ushasi Sen Basu:
Very nuanced and subtly defined vision and some very identifiable characters. The protagonist Chitrangada is very much a modern woman in search of her roots. Through the novel within a novel structure the author uses Chitrangada and her search as a metaphor for the the way women have found their voice over the years in post independence India. It’s a layered and nuanced portrayal, and not strident or angry. Chitrangada and her cousin are like you and me and their story could be ours too.
What do I say about Kirthi? A writer par excellence, she is also a really wonderful human being, always ready to help and hear you, despite having her time divided among so many things – writing, drawing (her Instagram page Femclyclopaedia has women achievers from around the world, a labour of love), her work as the founder of The Red Elephant Foundation, the Saahas app that she developed to help women facing domestic violence – I always wonder how she finds the time for all she does. My pick from among her books? The Doodler of Dimashq, which, while I haven’t read, sounds like something I want to.
What Kirthi Jayakumar has to say about Chup by Deepa Narayan
The book made me understand some of my own behaviours and where it came from – what I chose silence for, and how I acted out as a result of choosing silence. It also altered my thinking and ideas surrounding silence – we keep urging women to speak up, but it is really not that linear. So I stopped “imposing” on women to speak up, and instead, began to “encourage” women to break all that prevents them from speaking up.
Devapriya Roy has many books to her name, but I’ve read just one – Heat and Dust, which is a travelogue written along with her husband, Saurav Jha. A very honest, warm, and engaging account of travelling on a shoestring, it is an insight into not only
What Devapriya Roy has to say about Potluck by Ramona Sen
It’s a sequel to her novel Creme Brûlée and is published on the Juggernaut app. I loved her protagonist, Aabir Mookerjee, the last ‘Brit’ left in Calcutta, and I adored how Ramona weaves in food in her narrative. Potluck gives us further advantages of Mr Mookerjee and his dotty family. Sen’s writing is charming and effortless, and the only warning I will issue is that the book will make you very hungry – and you might find yourself booking a ticket to Calcutta!
I’ve read Sudha Menon’s Legacy, and I felt grateful for the privilege of getting to read letters that great Indian names wrote to their daughters, the warmth in the words and the inspiration that readers can derive from it.
What Sudha Menon has to say about Seventy and to Hell With It! by Shobhaa De
You can love her or hate her but you must admit that it takes great courage to open up your life for inspection by the entire world, especially today when everyone with access to a laptop or a smart phone feels he/she can voice an opinion and pass judgement on anyone. Just like that. Without even having met the object of that judgement even once.
Which is why I am awed by Shobhaa De’s Seventy and to Hell With It! It is vintage Shobhaa De at her best- honest to the point it makes your squirm, funny, sassy and still the unapologetic social commentator she has always been.
The author of several books that take a close look at the inner working of modern-day Indian homes and society at large, this book turns the spot light on her own life, her triumphs and tribulations, her relationships, children and comments unflinchingly on the things that she wished she had done, or not, when it came to all of the afore mentioned.
At seventy, the author is living a charmed life, travelling the world, rubbing shoulders with the bold, the beautiful and the powerful who lead seemingly perfect lives. Shobhaa goes where few would dare to tread and calls out the double standards and the duplicity in the charmed circles in which she lives..
Part of the reason th book kept me engrossed is the fact that it looks at topics that concern us all as we age- be it the fifties, sixties or seventies- with empathy, sensitivity and none of the ‘you are ageing and deal with it’ rhetoric we often see around us. From the greys in her once glorious tresses to moles, warts and her own insecurities about ageing, her concern for her children and the frantic pace of life Gen Z have adopted, she goes on a journey of introspection which I too find myself doing frequently these days.
There are anecdotes in plenty in this book, such as her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and her clumsy attempt to take a selfie with him; she had me in splits with the anecdote about her column in a prominent financial daily where she introduced the then new RBI governor as the “man who introduced sex into the sensex” and the furore it caused among the suited and booted folks of India Inc. Shobhaa talks sheepishly of the time she finally ran into the man, almost at the end of his tenure and of walking up to him to introduce herself, after which, she notes, they had a rather good time chatting.
What struck me about the book is the universality of the things she talks about- about marriage, raising kids, dealing with kids gone rogue with substance abuse and entitlement, finding and guarding her own space in her family and in the universe, learning to take responsibility for her own actions and facing the consequences for it, learning to assert herself, say No and realising her own worth.
An engaging read, especially if you have been around long enough to understand the India that she talks about frequently.
This might not be the best book I have read this year but it is certainly the sassiest book I have read this year.
It was PG Wodehouse who made the ordinary shenanigans of his characters hilarious. It was a keen eye for the possibility of comedy in the mundane and a way of turning a phrase that tickles, that immortalised his books. Jane de Suza’s writing reminds me of that. Her words have a sense of the absurd that is nothing if not entertaining. I’d recommend her book The Spy Who Lost Her Head.
What Jane DSuza has to say about Woman to Woman by Madhulika Liddle
I’ve been a fan of Madhulika Liddle’s from the time I picked up her first Muzzaffar Jang mystery, and moved my loyalties from the icy, angst-ridden Swedish detectives to this 17th Century charmer. Woman to Woman is a different set of stories, but with Liddle’s trademark sleight of pen. Her research is intricate, her creation of atmosphere heroic. The stories dig into those areas deep within our ribcages, which we cover otherwise with a sari pallu, and wish away… Could a child consider a mother being unfaithful? Would a nun and a prostitute be seen together on the same page? A book that raises questions.
Want a quick, engaging romantic read, or a set of chilling short stories? Vibha Batra has both kinds on offer among her many books. I found her latest book, Glitter and Gloss, quite intriguing.
What Vibha Batra has to say about The Whole Shebang by Lalita Iyer
Insightful and candid. Witty and hilarious. And best of all, non-preachy. What’s not to like? Must read, ladies AND gentlemen.
I’d read one book by Kirtida Gautam, and I’d say she knows her stuff! A psychologist, her insight into the recesses of the human mind comes across with chilling accuracy. I’d certainly recommend her book, #IAm16ICanRape.
What Kirtida Gautam has to say about Selection Day by Arvind Adiga
It has the elements that I enjoy. 1- LGBTQ+ rep, 2- Angst of being in modern India 3- Fierce professional competition turning people into their sub-human version.
So, which book will you be picking up next?
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