- The Twice-Born by Aatish Taseer
When Aatish Taseer first came to Benares, he was eighteen, the Westernized child of an Indian journalist and a Pakistani politician, raised among the intellectual and cultural elite of New Delhi. Nearly two decades later, Taseer leaves his life in Manhattan to go in search of the Brahmins, wanting to understand his own estrangement from India through their ties to tradition.
Known as the twice-born – first into the flesh, and again when initiated into their vocation – the Brahmins are a caste devoted to sacred learning. But what Taseer finds in Benares, the holy city of death, is a window on an India as internally fractured as his own continent-bridging identity. At every turn, the seductive, homogenizing force of modernity collides with the insistent presence of the past.
From the narrow streets of the temple town to a Modi rally in Delhi, among the blossoming cotton trees and the bathers and burning corpses of the Ganges, Taseer struggles to reconcile magic with reason, faith in tradition with hope for the future and the brutalities of the caste system, all the while challenging his own myths about himself, his past, and his countries old and new.
- Bake with Shivesh by Shivesh Bhatia
This is not your regular cookbook. Popular food blogger and maverick baker Shivesh Bhatia includes carefully curated recipes. He provides fool-proof tips on food styling that can be easily followed at home, in your kitchen, with tools you already own. In Bake with Shivesh, he also talks about his favourite styling techniques, and what works or doesn’t on Instagram and blogs.
- Paradise Towers by Shweta Bachchan-Nanda
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.
- Pureland by Zarrar Said
An assassin, accused of heinous acts of terror, begins his testimony by claiming responsibility for the murder of the Nobel Prize winning physicist, Salim Agha. To explain his motive, he narrates the story of Salim and the tragic relationship he had with his beloved nation, Pureland.
Inspired by a true story, Zarrar Said’s novel Pureland is a tour-de-force debut about a nation that has lost its way, its people who suffer from unspeakable tyranny, and a remorseful hero whose legacy has been wiped out by hatred.
Salim’s unlikely life is prophesized by a levitating saint. Starting as a feudal servant, he inadvertently contributes to a coup d’etat that derails his country and eventually leads to a hostile takeover of Pureland by the Caliphate. Salim leaves for New York. Over his subsequent years in exile, remorse leads him to try and undo this wrong – and in doing so he creates vicious enemies who vie to slay him. One such enemy is the narrator himself.
- The Queen of Jasmine Country by Sharanya Manivannan
Ninth century. In Puduvai, a small town in what we now know as Tamil Nadu, young Kodhai is taught to read and to write by her adoptive father, a garland-weaving poet. As she discovers the power of words, she also realizes that the longing for a great love that she has been nursing within her – one that does not suppress her desire for freedom – is likely to remain unfulfilled. Then, she hears of a vow that she can undertake that might summon it to her. In deepest winter, the sixteen-year-old begins praying for a divinely sensual love – not knowing that her words will themselves become prayers, and echo through the centuries to come. Rich with the echoes of classical poetry, The Queen of Jasmine Country, Sharanya Manivannan imagines the life of the devotional poet Andal, whose sublime and erotic verses remain beloved and controversial to this day.