If you’re a bibliophile, 2016 didn’t give you much to complain about. There was some great non-fiction (Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement), scandalous memoirs (Yaseer Usman’s Rekha: The Untold Story) and even comebacks (Aravind Adiga with Selection Day). 2017 promises to be no less. Here’s a line-up of books we’re eagerly awaiting. Tweet to us with #BrunchBookChallenge to tell us your reading list.
1. Indians: A Portrait of A People
Shashi Tharoor (Aleph)
As India nears 70 years of Independence, Tharoor examines our existence as a liberated nation, through the prism of our habits, food, languages, customs, religions and attitudes towards one another. The book poses interesting questions – for instance, if we pride ourselves on a several millennia old culture, why are we uncultured in our public behaviour?
2. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Arundhati Roy (Penguin India)
Roy returns to fiction 20 years after the Man Booker-winning The God of Small Things. During the announcement, she had said, “I am glad to report that the mad souls (even the wicked ones) in The Ministry... have found a way into the world.” While more details are awaited, Simon Prosser, of Hamish Hamilton & Penguin Books UK, had said that it was one of the finest works he had read in recent times.
3. The Book of Chocolate Saints
Jeet Thayil (Aleph)
Four years after his debut novel, Narcopolis, Thayil returns with the story of Newton Francis Xavier, who now lives in New York. The 66-year-old reformed alcoholic, and India’s greatest living painter, is getting ready to return from New York to India for one final show. As we follow him and his partner, Goody, on their journey to New Delhi, we’re introduced to a host of memorable characters.
4. An Unsuitable Boy
Karan Johar with Poonam Saxena (Penguin India)
One of India’s most influential film personalities opens up in this personal account of his life and the business of Bollywood, in his memoir, co-written with Hindustan Times’ journalist Poonam Saxena. At last year’s Jaipur Literature Festival, the director had said he was often called ‘pansy’ as a child, and had sleepless nights over the fact that he was different from other children.
5. The Lovers
Amitava Kumar (Aleph)
By recounting his years in college in Delhi, and university in New York, Kailash takes us through the bitter-sweet arc of youth and love. Through a mix of story and reportage, we’re taken on a journey exploring cultural misunderstandings and the lack of clarity between men and women. The novel makes us think of fiction as something we practise every day, in the way we narrate our lives not just to others, but also to ourselves.
6.Indelible India: A Golden Treasury of Journalism
Edited by MJ Akbar (Aleph)
This anthology features powerful stories and opinion pieces written by independent India’s finest journalists like Arun Shourie, Vinod Mehta, Khushwant Singh and Romesh Thapar, among others. MJ Akbar picks areas as diverse as politics and economics to war and crime, ensuring that the writing lives beyond the time it appeared in.
7. Nawaznama: A Memoir
Nawazuddin Siddiqui with Rituparna Chatterjee (Penguin India)
While he rose to mainstream fame with Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s had a long, challenging path to tinsel town. This memoir traces his journey and days of struggle from his home town of Budhana, Uttar Pradesh, to becoming one of Bollywood’s biggest and most unconventional stars.
8. When I Hit You
Meena Kandasamy (Juggernaut)
Told through an unnamed narrator, Kandasamy weaves together a scathing portrait of a traditional marriage, marred by violence and abuse, in modern India. The narrator, an academic and writer, falls in love with a university professor and subsequently gets married, only to discover that she is about to be bullied and reduced to his idealised version of a kept woman. Like Kandasamy’s many works, this one is fierce and courageous.
9. My Masters: My Games, My Life since Augusta 1997
Tiger Woods (Hachette India)
Twenty years after his historical win (a record margin of 12 shots) at the Masters Tournament, golfer Tiger Woods explores his history with the game and how it’s changed in two decades. Woods also opens up on his relationship with father Earl Woods, dispelling misconceptions, and reveals many previously unknown stories.
Prayaag Akbar (Simon & Schuster India)
In a digitised city, walls come up dividing and confining communities. In the forgotten spaces between, where garbage gathers and disease festers, Shalini must search for Leila, the daughter she lost one tragic summer sixteen years ago. With Leila, Prayaag Akbar makes a powerful comment on the issues of class and privilege that assail India.
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From HT Brunch, January 8, 2017
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