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A handy roundup of interesting new books in October 2018 by Indian women authors (and a couple by non-Indian authors that we think are a must-read), that can be added to your to-be-read list.
We bring you a roundup of interesting new books that you can take a look at and maybe buy. Some of these will of course get full reviews some time, so that you get an in-depth look at them.
Editor’s note: Since these are upcoming books, the descriptions are not reviews, but blurbs taken from Amazon.
Shweta Bachchan-Nanda (HarperCollins India)
Dinesh opens the door to the Kapoor flat to find Lata, the enchantress who works at Mrs Aly Khan’s, carrying a hot case with freshly made gaajar ka halwa. On the first floor, the inquisitive Mrs Mody wipes the dust off her precious binoculars to spy on the building’s security guard. The Singhs open the doors of their SUV, their four boys creating a ruckus – they are the newcomers, the outsiders. Through the peephole, the ever-watchful Mrs Ranganekar observes their arrival. Welcome to Paradise Towers, an apartment building in central Mumbai. Everyone here has a story to tell. Or maybe they have stories to hide.
Shweta Bachchan-Nanda’s quirky, intimate debut explores the intertwined lives in this building – a forbidden romance, an elopement, the undercurrents of tension in corridor interactions and an explosive Diwali celebration. Bachchan-Nanda’s is a dazzling voice that will draw you into the intoxicating, crazy world that is Paradise Towers.
Buy your copy at Flipkart, Amazon India, and Amazon US.
Twinkle Khanna (Juggernaut)
There sitting on that porch, that light-eyed man, a pitta like me, was my ex-husband and that woman whose inner element I was unaware of, unless bitch is accepted as an undiscovered fourth dosha, was his young wife.
In the serene sanctuary of Kerala’s Shanthamaaya spa where food is rationed, sex forbidden and emotions centred, Anshu meets someone familiar and deeply unsettling – her ex-husband. Bittersweet, funny and wise, Pyjamas Are Forgiving confirms Twinkle Khanna as one of our great storytellers.
Preeti Shenoy (Westland)
Studious, smart and sincere, Veda harbours big dreams for the future. But her parents arrange a marriage for her, and the twenty year old discovers that she has no say in the matter.
Forced to leave behind an idyllic life in the hill town of Joshimath—filled with conversations and pleasurable times with her siblings, and her best friend, the handsome Suraj—she puts aside her ambitions and moves into a flat in Pune with an indifferent husband and a mother-in-law from hell.
Though brought up to be quiet and obedient, Veda chafes at the meaninglessness of her existence and struggles to cope with the unexpected loneliness she is engulfed in. Then, amidst the dark clouds of stagnation and despondency, Veda carves out the unlikeliest of silver linings.
How does she do this? By breaking the rules? Or by following them?
In this emotional roller-coaster of a novel, Preeti Shenoy treads bold new ground yet again.
Suravi Sharma Kumar (Srishti Publishers & Distributors)
A teenaged Anita fights with her first wave of infatuation, a grownup girl goes through crests and troughs of her various firsts, a married woman struggles with the meanderings of her mind at various stages of her married life, a love story told from a child observer’s perspective and a story of a man’s yearning to feel hisroots in another part of the globe, in another world.
Mundane details of ordinary lives and the darker recesses of the minds of these marginalized characters are played with strokes of myriad colours to bring forth the strangeness, unpredictability and adventure that life holds for all of us.
In Search of Lost Life is a collection of tales of broken hearts, unstable minds, lust and love. These narratives are woven around characters caught in webs created by their minds and the struggle to fit into the societal norms.
Andaleeb Wajid (Amaryllis)
The Sum of All my Parts is a gripping and poignant story that centers on women and relationships. It has everything, be it tragedy, heartbreak, courage, conviction, catharsis, humour or romance. The protagonist, Mariam, is living the retired life of an old woman in a quiet Vellore suburb. She teaches four woman how to crochet and all of them recount their lives while crocheting. their time together is refuge for them all.
Of these four woman, one is merely 15, already married and pregnant, but doesn’t want the child. The second has been married for 3 years but hasn’t conceived yet. The third is in love with someone who is not her husband and is scared to break free from the shackles of marriage. And the fourth is sick of managing her home, son and mother-in-law all by herself, while her husband lives and works in Dubai.
All the stories blend seamlessly. The conceptualization is brilliant and the narrative us beautiful. this engrossing tale of the lives of four ordinary women will surely invoke myriad feelings in the reader.
Sudha Menon (Pan Macmillan India)
Candid, fun … an upbeat take on hitting the big five-oh’ SHOBHAA DÉ
If you ever thought that women in their fifties must lead dull, boring lives, Sudha Menon is here to bust your myths and show you that life indeed begins at fifty. Join this wise and witty fifty-something in pursuing middle-aged sexiness, nailing the work-life balance, taking on the FOMO, celebrating mid-life discoveries and generally feeling great about ourselves.
Hilarious yet poignant, Feisty at Fifty is both a moving personal story and the ultimate guide to making the fifties the most fabulous decade of your life yet.
Dr Nikita Lalwani (Redgrab books & Anybook)
2-day-down is a compilation of stories of 5 women from different walks of life. Each story digs into one of the five period related problems: Pain/Staining/Sexual Inhibition/PMS/Taboo, through each one’s journey. The title signifies the second day of a woman’s period, which is said to be the toughest of the five days. The stories are a reflection of the less acknowledged society around us. Through menstrual problems as a window, the book is an attempt to bring light to the intriguing yet briefly understood aspects of womanhood in different age groups.
Raisha Lalwani (Rupa Publications)
A woman leaves her infant at home but finds her on a busy street in an unexpected turn of events.
Another woman wakes up in a flight hours later, befuddled, in the strangest circumstance.
A fascinating tale of a twenty-five-year-old woman that takes hold of us from the moment she enters the fifth floor of a hospital; more precisely, the psychiatric ward. Visibly terrified, she clutches at her clothbound diary, caught in the horns of a terrible dilemma—whether or not to hand over the diary to the doctor. She fears that she will be declared insane if her tangled web of thoughts unspooling in dark mysterious stories is read by the dissecting eye of a doctor.
What does this diary contain? As the novel progresses, we are drawn into characters and stories that are toe-curling, strange, and haunting in their raw intensity. What is the story of this woman? What secrets lie in the pages of her diary? And most importantly, what happens on the fifth floor?
Barnita Bagchi (Tulika Books)
In Pliable Pupils and Sufficient Self-Directors, Barnita Bagchi examines writings that focus on female education and development by five representative British women writers who flourished between 1778 and 1814 – Lady Mary Hamilton, Clara Reeve, Elizabeth Hamilton, Mary Brunton, and the early Jane Austen.
In a climate in which female education was a subject of anxiety in print culture and fiction a site of contestation, and in which women were emerging as major producers both of educational writing and heroine-centered, ostensibly didactic fiction, these writers produced fictions of female education that were pioneering Bildungsromans.
Highly gendered, these fictions explore key tensions generated by the theme of education, including the dialectics between formal and experiential education, between the pliable pupil obedient to pedagogical authority-figures and the more self-sufficient autodidact, and between a desire for greater institutionalization of education and a recognition of the flexibility given by distancing from established structures.
There is a congruence between the ambulatory, tension-ridden patterns of female education found in these fictions and the distinctive, miscellaneous fictional knowledge they represent – their creators grappled with the epistemological and ethical status of fiction which they connected with female experience. The writers of these fictions held conservative views on national politics, and categories such as gender, race and class are disturbingly aligned in many of their works. However, Bagchi argues, these women writers should not be straitjacketed as subjects of an emergent hegemonic bourgeois order. Also, the journeys towards emancipation as well as the starkly disturbing closing off of many such possibilities in the writings analyzed here remain reflected in the lives of many women today.
Abdulali Sohaila (Penguin Viking)
Sohaila Abdulali was the first Indian survivor to speak out about rape. Gang-raped as a teenager in Bombay and indignant at the deafening silence on the issue in India, she wrote an article for a woman’s magazine questioning how we perceive rape and rape victims. Thirty years later, she saw the story go viral in the wake of the fatal 2012 Delhi rape and the global outcry that followed.
Writing from the viewpoint of a survivor, writer, counsellor and activist, and drawing on three decades of grappling with the issue personally and professionally and her work with hundreds of survivors, Sohaila Abdulali looks at what we-women, men, politicians, teachers, writers, sex workers, feminists, sages, mansplainers, victims and families-think about rape and what we say.
She also explores what we don’t say. She asks pertinent questions: Is rape always a life-defining event? Does rape always symbolize something? Is rape worse than death? Is rape related to desire? Who gets raped? Is rape inevitable? Is one rape worse than the other? Who rapes? What is consent? How do you recover a sense of safety and joy? How do you raise sons? Who gets to judge?
Trisha Das (Harper India)
Budding archaeologist Tara Singh has been excavating the ruins near Khajuraho for two years, hoping to discover a new temple. In the process, she’s discovered that she has a slight crush on her boss, eminent archaeologist Hari Varma. But the man Tara is truly fascinated by is the Chandela King Vidyadhara, who built the crowning jewel of the complex – the Kandariya Mahadeva temple – ‘the one with the most sex stuff on its walls’. Tara’s curiosity is about to be satisfied when she runs into Kala Devi, a tantric who sends her back in time to 1022 CE. Now, armed only with an unwieldy sword and her wits, Tara finds herself trapped in the medieval world of queens, concubines, courtiers and, of course, the King himself, who is everything she’d imagined – only sexier. As she scrambles to find a way back home, Tara begins to wonder why she was sent here in the first place.
A heady cocktail of romance and history, this delicious tale will leave you thirsting for more.
Gayatri Rangachari Shah, Mallika Kapur (Penguin)
Since Bollywood’s earliest days, women have played a part in its success, both in front of the camera and away from it. Yet it has taken more than half a century for women to assert their presence in significant numbers in Bollywood. Today, Hindi cinema relies on a record number of women who work tirelessly, sometimes invisibly, to keep the world’s largest dream factory buzzing.
This book tells the story of twenty incredible women, many with no prior connections in the industry, who have carved successful careers despite significant challenges. They often work away from the public gaze-as studio heads, producers, directors, make-up artists, stylists, script writers, lyricists,editors, choreographers, stunt artists, set designers, and in the many other jobs that support the making of a movie. These women deserve to be applauded and their journeys acknowledged, as they transform Bollywood and in the process, create a new India.
Saranya Umakanthan (Writing Geeks)
Love…does it mean going around the trees in Switzerland, singing tra-la-la-la in the snow? Is it chanting “I love you” mantra a thousand times a day? Is it about gifting teddies and roses to your partner? Or is it bombarding each other with a thousand and one pings in Messenger from morning till night?
Life batters Samaira. Stuck to these clichés, she loses everything…her love, parents, and wealth. Hopeless, she collides against the dynamic boss of Creative Tanks (CT), Vivian, who basically holds great contempt for losers. He aims to be the top entrepreneur in India, whereas Samaira has not even a notion of her dreams.
Fate plays its own game when she goes in search of work, where she encounters him again.
Shubha Vilas (Westland)
Happily ever afters are easier said than done. How do we choose the right partner, and how do we sustain that relationship so it lasts a lifetime?
Spiritual life coach Shubha Vilas tells you how, with the help of six beautiful love stories from the scriptures. Nala and Damayanti, Krishna and Rukmini, Shakuntala and Dushyanta, Udayana and Vasavadatta, Satyavan and Savitri, Draupadi and the five Pandava brothers—these are accounts we may have heard many a time but have not had an opportunity to understand in such depth and detail, and with such empathy.
But why 5.5 ways and not 6? Because the sixth way is a half-truth, which can be twisted either way.
Combining powerful story-telling with deep philosophical truths, Perfect Love is a treasure trove of scriptural wisdom for the modern age.
Anita Nair (Context)
In a small town by the river Nila, a thirty-five-year-old writer kills herself. No one knows why. Fifty-two years later, an antique cupboard in a private resort opens to reveal a frightened child. And the mystery begins to unravel.
From the bestselling author of Ladies Coupe comes an unusual new novel about the intensity – and consequences – of desire.
Lalita Iyer (Westland)
She was a diva, a dancing queen and a comedienne par excellence. An actress who set the box office on fire in a male-dominated Bollywood. What made her tick? What did it take to work in films across five languages, and churn out hits like Himmatwala, Chaalbaaz, Moondram Pirai, Nagina, Kshana Kshanam, Mr India, Sadma, Chandni or Lamhe?
All this did not come easily for her. An outsider in Bollywood, she was mocked for her poor accent and dubbed ‘Ms Thunder Thighs’. Sridevi had to reinvent herself many a time, whether it was by making the white salwar kameez sexy or by playing double roles with flair. Then, after she’d left it all to be a doting wife and mother, she made a brilliant comeback with a memorable role in English Vinglish. This book traces her journey and her battles against odds, and is a tribute to her as an actor and as a woman.
Khadija Mastur (Penguin Modern Classics)
Aliya lives a life confined to the inner courtyard of her home with her older sister and irritable mother, while the men of the family throw themselves into the political movements of the day. She is tormented by the petty squabbles of the household and dreams of educating herself and venturing into the wider world. But Aliya must endure many trials before she achieves her goals, though at what personal cost?
Set in the 1940s, with Partition looming on the horizon, The Women’s Courtyard cleverly brings into focus the claustrophobic lives of women whose entire existence was circumscribed by the four walls of their homes, and for whom the outside world remained an inaccessible dream. Daisy Rockwell’s elegant and nuanced translation captures the poignance and power of Khadija Mastur’s inimitable voice.
Kalpana Lajmi (HarperCollins India)
We all know Bhupen Hazarika as a singer-composer, poet and lyricist non-pariel. What about the man behind the legend? Told through the lens of Kalpana Lajmi, Bhupen Hazarika: As I knew Him is a free-flowing memoir, moving back and forth across time, defying description, much like the love story it narrates. It is the story of a unique bond, of the coming together of two talented artistes, of a man who used his art as an instrument of social change, who was charismatic and passionate, and a woman, a fierce feminist, who has never cared much about societal norms, and yet who could never turn away from him despite his mercurial ways, his unreasonable tantrums and his unwillingness to recognize her as a companion.
Rana Safvi (Hachette India)
Through nuanced translations of four Urdu narratives spanning the period of turmoil that led to the Revolt of 1857 – and culminated in fall of the Mughal Empire – this compelling volume reveals the tragic and affecting story of a royalty in decline. Vividly documenting the twilight years of not just a historical era but also an entire way of life, these first-hand accounts – gleaned from princes and paupers alike – provide rare insight into how the royals and their subjects experienced life lived on either side of a cataclysm. Tales of suffering describe the perfidy of the British and the plight of the last royals as they are disbanded and pushed into dire poverty; livelier accounts of fealty and treachery detail palace intrigues; and nostalgic reminiscences recreate the days of past glory and communal comity – of feasting and festivals, and shared faith and devotion.
An intimate chronicle of a crucial era in India’s history, City of My Heart is the saga of a changing city and a people experiencing the end of life as they know it.
Dina Torkia (Ebury Press)
‘This is the story of my life. It’s about me as a Muslim Brit embracing dual identities, surviving the turbulent teens and transitioning from self-doubt to self-belief. There is a little bit of drama, lots of laughs, plenty of practical advice and a shedload of bold statements. You can’t get a Muslim woman in a hijab with no opinion, am I right?!’
Guys, get ready. YouTuber and social media sensation Dina Torkia is giving you a never-seen-before look into her world. From advice on fashion, beauty and style, to frank opinions on family, career and faith, this is everything that Dina has ever wanted to share with you.
So let Dina tell you how it really is, living and loving life as a modern Muslim Brit.
And here are 2 books that are not by Indian women, but are significant books that need to be know. Inspirational, relevant, and worth our time.
Soraya Chemaly (Simon & Schuster Ltd)
Women are angry, and it isn’t hard to figure out why.
We are underpaid and overworked. Too sensitive, or not sensitive enough. Too dowdy or too made-up. Too big or too thin. Sluts or prudes. We are harassed, told we are asking for it, and asked if it would kill us to smile. Yes, yes it would.
Contrary to the rhetoric of popular “self-help” and an entire lifetime of being told otherwise, our rage is one of the most important resources we have, our sharpest tool against both personal and political oppression. We’ve been told for so long to bottle up our anger, letting it corrode our bodies and minds in ways we don’t even realize. Yet our anger is a vital instrument, our radar for injustice and a catalyst for change. On the flip side, the societal and cultural belittlement of our anger is a cunning way of limiting and controlling our power.
We are so often told to resist our rage or punished for justifiably expressing it, yet how many remarkable achievements in this world would never have gotten off the ground without the kernel of anger that fueled them? Rage Becomes Her makes the case that anger is not what gets in our way, it is our way, sparking a new understanding of one of our core emotions that will give women a liberating sense of why their anger matters and connect them to an entire universe of women no longer interested in making nice at all costs.
Following in the footsteps of classic feminist manifestos like The Feminine Mystique and Our Bodies, Ourselves, Rage Becomes Her is an eye-opening book for the twenty-first century woman: an engaging, accessible credo offering us the tools to re-understand our anger and harness its power to create lasting positive change.
Nadia Murad (Virago)
Offers powerful insight into the barbarity the Yazidi suffered alongside glimpses into their mystical culture this is an important book by a brave woman, fresh testament to humankind’s potential for chilling and inexplicable evil (Ian Birrell the Times)
Courageous. Anyone who wants to understand the so called Islamic State should read (The Economist)
With a foreword by Amal Clooney. A Nobel Peace Prize nominee and the first Goodwill Ambassador the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations and winner of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, Nadia Murad is a courageous young woman who has endured unimaginable tragedy (losing eighteen members of her family) and degradation through sexual enslavement to ISIS. But she has fought back.
This inspiring memoir takes us from her peaceful childhood in a remote village in Iraq through loss and brutality to safety in Germany. Courage and testimony can change the world: This is one of those books.
Image source: Unsplash
In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya
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